As we talked about in the last part of this series, parents play an integral part in speech-language therapy, particularly therapy for stuttering. Additionally, speech-language intervention for stuttering should also address three main areas: affective, behavior, and cognitive. These are sometimes referred to as the ABCs of stuttering. First, the affective component relates to the child’s feelings and attitudes towards stuttering. Some children may be very aware of their stuttering and may feel their stuttering is a problem. Other children may have limited awareness and have a positive attitude towards their stuttering, such as “I sometimes have bumps when I talk but that’s ok.”
The second part of the ABCs is the behavioral component. This part refers to the actual stuttering itself. Does the child repeat words (e.g., “bump bump bump”) or do they stretch out sounds (e.g., “sssssssoda”)? Do they ever have blocks, where it looks like words are “stuck”? Do they avoid eye contact or change facial expressions while stuttering? The last component is the cognitive component. This is related to the child’s thoughts about stuttering. This may include decisions to avoid or change word, or avoid raising a hand in class or saying “Nevermind” a lot. As Mr. Coleman stated, “If we only target the disfluencies, we have failed because we have only addressed the behavioral component.” By acknowledging the importance of each of the ABCs, we are able to better support each patient by focusing in on the specific component that matters most to them and their family. This may include patient and parent input, practicing with peers or siblings, and practicing strategies outside the therapy environment.