Tag Archives: Stuttering

The Stuttering Foundation- SALE

21 Nov

Teachers, Parents and Therapists!  If you have a child who stutters, take advantage of this Thanksgiving Special from The Stuttering Foundation and pick up some great resources for yourself or child.  Check out the online store here, but order by phone to receive 30% off of your order.

The stuttering foundation is a non-profit organization that offers a comprehensive collection of books, brochures, flyers and DVDs for parents, teachers and students.  The Stuttering Foundation also provides free online resources, services and support to those who stutter and their families, as well as support for research into the causes of stuttering.  So go ahead and browse the website for lots of great information about stuttering!

Thanksgiving Special

30% Off Everything when ordering
by phone!

Offer ends Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011

Starting today, the Stuttering Foundation is offering 30% off our entire selection of resources for stuttering when you place your order over the phone. Call 800-992-9392.

View the e-catalog by clicking here.

In order to receive the special, you must call the toll-free number at 800-992-9392Online orders do NOT receive this discount. Our hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central Time on Monday and Tuesday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday. Offer ends at 2 p.m. on Nov. 23, 2011. Shipping not included in discount.


In the News: Parents’ Ums And Uhs Can Help Toddlers Learn Language

15 Apr

I’ve posted a bit about stuttering lately, and this article from yesterday’s NPR Health Blog is a very cute, informative and related follow up. 

While language modeling for young children can be critical to how they develop language,  don’t worry about having perfectly fluent and smooth speech when talking to your kids!  Research from the University of Rochester suggests that when parents have disfluencies in their speech (or fumble over their words) children learn to anticipate that an unfamiliar or “big” word may follow and it may in fact help them to learn new words and acquire language.

You can click on this link below to access the short article on NPR’s Health Blog:


Stuttering: Let’s Talk About it!

8 Apr

image from Keyframe.org

Stuttering has always been an area of communication disorders that is particularly interesting to me.  It is complex.    There is still no conclusive evidence as to why people stutter.   And furthermore,  no two people stutter in the same way.

But first and foremost, let’s clear the air.  Yes, we should talk to kids  about stuttering.

Kids are smart. They know they stutter and they know you know.  If we don’t talk about it with them we are inadvertently sending the message that it is something to be afraid of and something to feel shame about.   “Talking about stuttering” with kids doesn’t mean having a parent or teacher tell them to try again, or slow down or think first.  Most of the time, what kids want most from their parent, or teacher, is someone to listen, someone to understand and accept them for who they are.  For most kids, stuttering is much more than just the stuttering we hear.  Research shows that most kids who stutter feel  a loss of control,  that they don’t have a voice,  and may feel like there is something wrong with them or that they are stupid.  We should talk openly with our kids about their feelings about stuttering and create open,  supportive channels of communication for them to be heard and understood.

There are strategies that we teach in Speech Therapy to help kids talk more fluently.  The goal with stuttering therapy, however, is not to get a child to stop stuttering completely.   The goals are:

  • to help kids learn about their own stuttering
  • to help kids learn how to gain control over their speech
  • to help kids work with their families, teachers and peers to increase support for the child’s challenging environment
  • and most importantly to help kids be effective communicators.

Stuttering is highly variable and changes over time.   Therapy is a place for the child to learn to experiment with his or her speech in different ways.  There are tools we can give our kids to help them speak more fluently.  However,  laying the appropriate groundwork during therapy is fundamental in order for kids to have success with using the strategies.  It takes lots of practice, hard work, presence and acceptance.  Outside of Speech Therapy, we need to first build acceptance and support the child in the challenging environment that they face.  We can focus first and foremost on WHAT our kids are saying and not HOW.

I went to an excellent workshop yesterday.  Dr. J. Scott Yaruss, Board Recognized Specialist and Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Pittsburgh presented “Effective Treatment for School-Age Children Who Stutter.”

We have several kids in our school who stutter, so this workshop was extremely relevant and useful.  Here are a few quick tidbits about stuttering from Dr. Yaruss’s workshop:

  • Disfluency is any disruption in smooth speech.  What makes stuttering different from normal disfluency in speech that we all experience, is that the speaker experiences a loss of control.
  • Stuttering behaviors can be prolongations of the initial sound in words (“llllllllike this”), part word repetitions (“li-li-like this), pauses, twitches, facial grimaces….These are all stuttering behaviors things we can see that indicate the speaker has experienced a “loss of control.”
  • Stuttering involves much more than the stuttered behaviors that we see and hear as listeners.  A child who stutters may also experience feelings of frustration, depression, embarrassment, shame, hopelessness, bullying, teasing, pressure from parents, teachers

Yaruss presented a framework for working with school age children who stutter.  His framework is not so different from other models I have used in the past.  One BIG difference, however, is that his framework is entirely student centered.  In addition to learning the fluency strategies, the student learns to become a self-advocate.  He learns about his own stuttering, the student himself educates his parents about his stuttering and stuttering therapy (the therapist facilitates this, but the child is completely in charge here), and the student learns how to talk with his teachers and peers about his stuttering.

Dr. Yaruss’s  framework also relies heavily on laying a proper foundation, learning about the speech mechanism and what they are doing when they stutter.  Therapists often move too quickly, and jump ahead to teaching fluency techniques but if a child doesn’t even know what he’s doing when he stutters in the first place, how can he really make a change?

Please visit the updated link category “Stuttering” for links to websites for people who stutter and resources for parents and clinicians.  For parents of kids who stutter, I really encourage you to check out these links.  The best place to start is by reaching out to some of these organizations and meeting other parents of kids who stutter.  Please let me know if you want guidance or assistance and I will be more than happy to sit down with you and help connect you with some great programs and people.

The King’s Speech and Some Stuttering Information

1 Mar

“Listen to me… I have a voice!”

Colin Firth as King George VI


I saw the King’s Speech a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it.  Now that it won an Academy Award for Best Picture, I simply can’t avoid mentioning it here.

I loved the portrayal of the speech therapist, Lionel Logue.   Besides the fact that I simply admired his personality and his deep understanding of his client, I felt that his character was a positive nod to the profession of Speech Pathology at large.  Lionel Logue certainly contributed to the early development of the field of Speech Pathology.  And I find that many people don’t exactly know what I (a Speech Pathologist) do for a living, or they are quick to assume that I mainly help to correct lisps.  To learn more about what a Speech Pathologist does, click this link for a short cheat-sheet.

(P.S. I currently only have 3 kids on my caseload who are working on intelligible speech or articulation errors, like a lisp, and 3 kids who stutter.  I see a total of 34 kids so it’s a small percentage of what I do every day).

Lionel Logue was a pioneer in the field of Speech Pathology.   His background was in public speaking.   Although he didn’t have the same training in anatomy, physiology, child development and communication science and disorders that Speech Pathologists have today, he did possess  an ingenuity, and a deep sense of empathy that, in conjunction with his background in public speaking,  set the stage for him to achieve better levels of speech fluency with the clients he worked with.

Some of the strategies he used with the King to help him produce fluent speech in the movie are not supported by evidenced-based research to be effective across patients.  However, other strategies are still part of the framework that many Speech therapists use today when working with people who stutter.

For more information on Lionel Logue, and a brief background on the field of Speech Pathology , you can read a short article in the ASHA Leader by Dr. Caroline Bowen, an Australian Speech-Language Pathologist.

It is estimated that more than 60 million people in the world stutter, including 5% of all children.  There is still no conclusive evidence as to the cause of stuttering.  Some more recent studies suggest that there is a genetic component to the disorder, and it is not just a product of environmental factors.  We do know that stuttering is more common among males than females.  However, how stuttering develops, and when and where stuttering occurs (at beginning of words, on certain words, a whole word, a part of a word, certain sounds, at certain times of day, in certain environments, when talking to certain people, etc.) is different for each person who stutters.  It has been said that no two people stutter alike.

Researchers believe that some children are born with a predisposition to stutter.   Many kids when they are learning to talk, have “disfluent” or “bumpy” speech.  Some kids grow out of this as they gain a better command over language.  Many kids who begin to stutter early on will stop.  Other kid’s who exhibit these same “disfluencies”, “bumpy speech”, or “moments of stuttering” can be exacerbated by how other people react to them or how frustrated they themselves are with their speech as they are learning.  Kids who are easily frustrated and/or have a predisposition to stutter may tense their muscles more and have a more difficult time stringing together coordinated muscle movements necessary for fluent speech.

What is most interesting to me, and what I focus on in therapy sessions with people who stutter, is that, all people, even those who are very disfluent (or stutter A LOT) have moments of speech in which they ARE fluent and they are NOT stuttering.  The focus therefore, is on what they are doing with their muscles, tongue, teeth, lips, and breathing in those moments of fluency.  Then it becomes a matter of translating that awareness to other, more bumpy or difficult moments of speech.

If you’re interested in learning more about stuttering, a great place to start is the American Speech-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Information for Public section. Or, feel free to stop by my office if you are at PS20 or email me with any questions if you’re not.

Finally, I will probably write another blog entry at some point on the Our Time Theater Company, a FREE program right here in New York City that aims to improve the confidence and communication skills of kids who stutter through the arts, but I need to quickly mention it because their upcoming show I Could Be King is a tribute to David Seidler, the screenwriter of the King’s Speech, and a childhood stutterer.

Here is Our Time’s Mission Statement, but I really encourage you to take a peak at their website, especially if you know a child of age 5 -18 who stutters.  It is an incredible organization and best of all, many of their programs are FREE:

Our Time is a non-profit organization that uses the arts to improve the confidence and communication skills of children who stutter.  Through a local New York City-based program and a summer camp open to children from around the nation and abroad, Our Time helps young people transform their fear and shame from stuttering into confidence and determination to reach their fullest potential.  Our Time participants gain enriching friendships and experience tangible success, giving them the confidence to overcome the challenges presented by stuttering.

Our Time serves children who stutter, their young family members and friends, ages 5 to 18, from a wide diversity of backgrounds.  The company is committed to offering its NYC programming free of charge and providing financial aid for its national program, Camp Our Time.

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