How to get support for learning for your pre-school child who stammers
Remember to keep a file with all the details of your child's medical history, education reports and other important documents. You may need this information at some time and it should be kept in a safe place.
What to do if you think that your young child has a stammer
Take action yourself: two important steps to take.
1. Contact your local speech and language therapy service
The BSA would advise a parent to seek advice from a therapist when they are concerned about a stammer, particularly if the child seems to be anxious. Do not delay seeking the advice of a therapist as Early Intervention gives the best chance of recovery from stammering. As parents may make this referral directly to most services, it is not worth waiting for the pre-school to decide to refer after going through the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice. Remember that this service is free to you as the National Health Service funds it. The BSA can provide you with the contact details of your local service.
Stammering and more complex needs
If your child is not attending a pre-school when you have a concern about his overall development as well as his stammer, you can also approach the Early Years team at your local authority. They will be able to provide you with information about the next step. See When your child has complex needs.
2. Working in partnership with the pre-school staff
Even when you have contacted a therapist yourself, it is advisable to keep the pre-school informed. When you do, you are likely to find that the staff will be guided in their response by the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (SEN Code).
The Code is there to ensure that any child, who has a need for additional support, can be provided with this in a pre-school or school setting. It is therefore helpful for parents to talk about this with their pre-school. The BSA would always advise parents to discuss the SEN Code with staff as it is the means by which resources may be provided for a child. The SEN Code should ensure that the child's needs are monitored and planned for, and that parents and any other professionals involved, such as a speech and language therapist, are kept regularly informed about the child's progress.
Talk frequently to your child's key worker and pass on any concerns you have, and respond to any concerns expressed by her. If your child is receiving therapy ask the therapist if she could go into the nursery or other setting, to give the staff information and, if appropriate, involve them in any programme of therapy being used.
Ask the staff in the setting to use the BSA-Leaflets and Information about stammering for staff.
Do not worry that you are being a nuisance, or are over-reacting when you express your concern about your child's stammer, research does show that parents usually know their own child best and their concerns are legitimate. It is important that the pre-school and the therapist work with you to ensure that the stammer is not a barrier to learning for your child.
What can the pre-school do to help your child
Staff in the setting can work with you to discuss and support your child's needs through the processes available under the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice. There is provision for extra support in the setting, for example through 'Early Years Action'. If your child receives 'Early Years Action Plus' help for a reasonable time without success, and the pre-school thinks that there is a serious cause for concern, the pre-school may ask for your consent to contact the local authority for a statutory assessment.
This will only happen if your child's stammer is part of more complex needs that should ideally have been identified at an earlier stage. The majority of children who stammer are unlikely to be statutorily assessed. See When your child has complex needs.
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