On September 9th, the Eastside Stuttering Support Group and the Kent Teen Stuttering Group met up for a hike. It was a beautiful day to meet new friends and enjoy the outdoors. I particularly enjoyed this experience because it related well to a course I took recently on assessment and treatment of stuttering in school-age children. This course focused on the multi-dimensional aspect of stuttering. Often, when a person thinks of stuttering, they only think of the behavioral component, or what we see/hear. This might include repeating of sounds (e.g., “b-b-back”), prolonging sounds (“hhhhhhhike”), or getting stuck on sounds (e.g., “s (pause) tuck)”).
However, there are many more aspects to stuttering. For instance, my recent course focused on the CALMS model. CALMS stands for: Cognitive, Affective, Linguistic, Motor, Social. When treating a school-age child who stutters each of these areas becomes important. The cognitive component refers to the child’s thoughts, perceptions, and awareness of his/her stuttering. For instance, a first grade child may not be aware of his stuttering while a sixth grade child is highly aware. The affective component involves the feelings, emotions, and attitudes associated with stuttering. The linguistic component is the complexity of language, including language skills, story-telling, and the current demands of the language environment. The demands of a language environment when answering yes/no questions is much easier than producing 400-word story! The motor piece is what we actually see during moments of stuttering. Lastly, the social component includes the different listeners and speaking environments the child may encounter, and the effects of these on the child.
Each child is unique, so each piece of the CALMS model will be different for every child. For instance, a child may demonstrate very little stuttering (the Motor piece), but they are highly aware and self-conscious (the Cognitive and Affective pieces). This then means that they do not like to talk in class (the Social piece) and only respond to questions with yes or no (the Linguistic piece). This model helps us see which components affect a child the most, and drive treatment so that we can target needed areas.
Our recent hike was a great example of incorporating this holistic approach into every day functional activities. By participating in a support group, there is a great opportunity for a person to understand more about feelings, attitudes, and perceptions regarding stuttering. Additionally, it is also a chance to participate in social activities within a supportive environment. However, most importantly, it is a fun time for everyone to meet and explore the beautiful Northwest!