Recently, I took a course presented by Craig Coleman, M.A., CCC-SLP on ways to involve the family of a school-age child who stutters in the therapy process. He offered many great examples and ideas that will be shared in this four-part blog series.
Parents are the experts on themselves and their children. The speech-language pathologist is the expert on stuttering. Working collaboratively together for a school-age child who stutters is key. For stuttering therapy to be effective, we have to help the patient connect information from therapy to personal values and experiences. This may include having the parent within the therapy room itself during each session or it may include discussion following each session about how to best support the child at home. The parent and child can help the speech-pathologist understand where the child does the most talking; who the child usually talks to; speaking situations that are easier; and speaking situations that are harder. Learning the child’s interests also helps connect strategies from treatment to personal experience.
Additionally, the speech-language pathologist can help the family understand some of the challenges of what a child who stutters is being asked to do. For instance, imagine that after reading this post, you were to try to stutter on purpose for every single sentence for the next five minutes. Then you tried to stutter on purpose on every single sentence for the next hour, day, and month. Likely, you would not be able to intentionally insert a stutter into your speech for that long of a time period because it is very, very hard. You may do it for five minutes and then forget. It requires someone to change their natural way of speaking and work to correct it every single second. Thus, building up the child’s success in easier tasks then harder tasks is very essential to success. By working as a team, the speech-language pathologist and the family both gain better understanding of how they can contribute to therapy. This helps make intervention more successful.