The Haven For Stuttering, PLLC|
17 Pennington Way
Spring Valley, NY
The First Amendment For Some, Not All and
The WH's on Stuttering
Once acquired, many people take the ability to speak properly for granted. Normal child growth and development dictate a child speaks his first word at or about 12 months of age and increases their vocabulary and mean length of utterance with proper modeling and stimulation. A premature newborn may or may not reach its norms needing extra assistance and early intervention. Similarly, a special needs child most often will not reach milestones at their age appropriate times. There is much pathology in which age norms and severity are tell tale signs of something potentially more concerning. Stuttering is one of those pathologies.
A recent article in this publication defined the explanation, cause and treatment for stuttering. Therefore this expose will view Stuttering in a different light by highlighting the most commonly asked Wh's on Stuttering.
When to start therapy?
Parents of young children who stutter will frequently begin their inquiries with this question. Contrary to popular belief, professionals in the field of fluency deem fit to begin assessment and stuttering intervention as early as three years old. Some parents wonder if by making their child aware of their stutter it will impact negatively. On the contrary, this is a healthy, helpful start to therapy. Most therapy for preschool children will begin as a family-focused treatment. Its focus will be on communication behavior and will address attitudes that children and their parents may exhibit in reaction to stuttering. A significant amount of attention is paid to educate parents about stuttering, helping parents reduce their own fears and concerns about their child's speech, and training parents about the use of appropriate communication modifications to support their children's therapy. Once the parent-focused aspects are addressed the parents can provide support for their child through out the child-focused aspects of treatment. The number one rule of thumb is if the frequency of stuttering is greater than ten percent meaning 10 out of 100 words are dysfluent therapy is warranted. Barry Guitar, an expert on stuttering says," If children who stutter are treated before they reach school age it's possible to resolve the issue." True, 80 percent of youngsters will outgrow their stutter however reactions to stuttering, frequency and genetic history are good indicators to ones spontaneous recovery. A battery of assessments will determine necessity for therapy. Concerning school age children, teens and adults, initiation of therapy is not as much a question once stuttering is persistent and the individual is aware and avoiding words and situations. A qualified therapist will assess frequency and severity of stuttering making sure services are warranted. For individuals who have received therapy in the past a modified approach, a change of therapist, a new time in one's life, are all factors which can contribute to increased fluency and communication.
What kind of therapy treatments are out there?
Unfortunately, currently there is no pill cure for stuttering. Certain drugs are in research for enhancing speech fluency but have not yet been FDA approved. A good Speech Pathologist though can provide their client with the tools to not only speak more fluently but also regain his confidence with a more fluent communication lifestyle. A person with choices, with goals, dreams and freedom of speech. Therapy has changed lives for many people. People who previously felt ashamed ordering food in a restaurant or held themselves back from making a phone call because of their inability to converse became overcome with feelings of renewal and rebirth. In past years professionals only targeted the physiological aspects of stuttering, metaphorically referred to as the iceberg. The stutter. Over the years clients have taught professionals that it's not all about what is being spoken, there's a lot below the surface of the iceberg that needs to be addressed as well. Very often its case mind over matter. I firmly believe a client-centered Integrated Approach is the therapy of today.
On a different note, there are also anti-stuttering devices made available by Casa Futura Technologies. These are best used in conjunction with stuttering therapy to minimize device dependency. For those looking to focus on fluency-shaping Dr. Fluency is on the market. The user friendly, interactive program, based on internationally recognized fluency shaping methodology, maximizes precious therapy time, provides specific and objective feedback, monitors patients' progress reports and motivates clients to learn and practice their techniques and exercises. The program is compatible with a wide variety of stuttering therapy approaches. The Speech Easy and Fluency Master are additional devices to help stutterers speak more fluently. These are miniature, wearable, electronic devices that look like a hearing aid. It is up to each client together with their therapist to explore their options individually and see what course of therapy best suits their needs and lifestyle.
How to react when speaking with someone who stutters?
A person may be caught off guard when communicating with a stranger or person he's met for the first time. Teachers may get a new student who stutters when they've never had a student with this challenge. Stuttering may look like an easy problem that can be solved with some simple advice, but for many adults, it can be a chronic life-long disorder. Here are some ways that you, the listener, can help. Don't make remarks like "Slow down", Take a breath", or "Relax". Such advice can be demeaning and is not helpful. Let the person know by your manner and actions that you are listening to what he or she says-not how they say it. Maintain natural eye contact and wait patiently and naturally until the person is finished. Respond in an unhurried way so your speaker won't feel as if you're waiting for the conversation to be over- but not so slowly as to sound unnatural. Lastly, be aware that those who stutter usually have more trouble with their speech on the telephone. Be extra patient in this situation. If you pick up the phone and hear nothing, be sure it is not a person who stutters trying to initiate the conversation before you hang up.
Who can help?
When seeking help for diagnosis or treatment of stuttering one should turn to a Speech Language Pathologist. You can visit www.asha.org and click on find a professional for a list of therapists in your area. Note however this site does not warrant the competency of the speech pathologists nor guarantee their treatment. It is up to each individual to inquire whether the therapist specializes in Fluency and feels competent to treat your particular case. The client is best seeking help from a professional holding at minimum a Masters Degree with a Certificate of Clinical Competence and who has dedicated continuing education, time and research in stuttering.
Where can I gather information and support?
The following are a list of key stuttering organizations and resources:
The National Stuttering Association (NSA) publishes helpful booklets for children who stutter and their families. They support more than 80 local chapters for adults who stutter and their families and host an annual conference with 3 day youth program. The Stuttering Home Page contains a tremendous amount of helpful information about stuttering. Friends: Association for Young People Who Stutter hosts an annual conference bringing together people who stutter from around the country. Support and information is a click or call away. Education is power. Help turn your own dreams into reality.
Batsheva Sheps, M.S., CCC-SLP, TSHH is the founder of The Haven For Stuttering
located in Spring Valley, NY. She is a Speech Language Pathologist offering services and support for people who stutter and their families. For more information please contact The Haven For Stuttering at 845.517.0965.