I believe in...
Therapy approaches customized to the client's needs
Consistent clinician modeling of speech strategies
Positive reinforcement of targeted speech behaviors
A therapy structure based upon producing increasingly longer and more complex utterances
Procedures to maximize success in and out of the therapy room
Activities designed to improve self-esteem and self-confidence
Family participation whenever possible
Stuttering therapy for preschoolers
For so many years, it has been common for parents to take the “wait and see” approach when a preschool-aged child begins to stutter. Pediatricians, family members, and even speech therapists often tell parents that “it’s just a phase,” and “he’ll likely outgrow it.” Many children do outgrow their stuttering, but we do not know which children will and will not continue to stutter. What we do know, is there are many risk factors that can put a child more at risk of continued stuttering:
- Family history of stuttering
- Time since the onset of the stuttering (more than three to six months)
- Delayed or imbalanced speech and language skills
- Other co-occurring speech, language, emotional, psychological, or physical delays/disorders
- Consistency of the frequency and type of stuttering
- Frustration with or awareness of his/her stuttering
In addition, children with any of the following personality traits may be more at risk of continued stuttering.
- Highly sensitive
- Highly reactive (i.e., reacting strongly or over-reacting when hurt/upset)
- Has a hard time calming down when upset
Research and clinical experience has led us to believe that early intervention can actually increase a child’s chance of recovering from stuttering. However, we don’t know exactly which children will not naturally outgrow their stuttering. So, it is my aim to identify which children appear more at risk of continued stuttering, and to give them the best opportunity possible to recover from stuttering as quickly as possible. If a child is not on a path to outgrowing their stuttering, we may be able to help set them on a different course.
If your preschool child is stuttering, I strongly suggest you speak to a speech-language pathologist with expertise in pediatric stuttering. An evaluation or consultation may be in order. Most of the families with preschool children attend weekly sessions. Following an initial evaluation along with parent education and counseling, therapy is conducted regularly and consistently and parents and caretakers are integrally involved.
Stuttering therapy for children
School aged children — from about age six and older — often have begun to develop attitudes and feelings about their speech difficulties. It is at this age level that a more direct, multi-faceted approach becomes appropriate. An evaluation is first conducted to assess the child's and family's needs. Evaluations can be made without the obligation of enrolling in treatment.
Treatment typically involves the development of speech management tools as we work toward the elimination of the fears and avoidances. I support a strengthening in the perception of self and help to empower the child to take charge and educate his/her teachers and peers. Family is supported through this process of change. Education assists all involved in the child's life in order to develop a strong, positive and supportive environment in which the child can thrive with his new found attitudes and skills. This is accomplished through individual treatment sessions, group treatment, as well as parent/caretaker support groups.
It is with this age group that the child's friends and classmates can also be enlisted as a part of the support system. As the therapist and child educate them about stuttering and its treatment, the child's peers develop a healing understanding which facilitates support. I serve as liaisons to schools to educate school faculty as well as speech support staff.
Stuttering therapy for teens
It is important that techniques used in therapy for teens feel natural to them. This will increase the likelihood that the individual will use the techniques in the real world and decrease likelihood of a relapse. Another component of therapy is learning strategies to reduce physical tension which will assist with reducing the overall severity of stuttering. Often, teens who stutter exhibit struggle behaviors during their moments of stuttering. This increased tension results when the speaker attempts to prevent or avoid stuttering by forcing words out; however, it actually results in more severe stuttering as the struggle behaviors become incorporated into the teen’s stuttering pattern. Many teens who stutter experience embarrassment and shame about their speaking difficulties. They may be nervous or anxious when they need to speak, and they may engage in various strategies designed to help them avoid speaking. All of these reactions to stuttering limit their ability to participate fully in their life. The ultimate goal of therapy is to help teens who stutter communicate effectively in all situations with out fear or worry.
Stuttering therapy for adults
Managing stuttering therapy is a lifelong process with achieving effective communication being the goal. Although one may have attended therapy in the past and felt that it was ineffective in managing their fluency, I would encourage you to consider therapy again. Not only are there effective strategies that can assist with management of your stuttering, but there are many local community supports to aide you. Overt, as well as covert stuttering can be addressed in therapy.