What to Expect of Speech Therapy for Stuttering
Stuttering is a common speech disorder that affects both children and adults. If you have noticed your child experiencing blocks or repetitions while speaking, they may be exhibiting signs of childhood onset fluency disorder or stuttering. One of the most effective treatments for stuttering is speech therapy. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the role of speech therapy in treating stuttering, what to expect during therapy sessions and the long-term expectations of stuttering therapy.
What is Stuttering?
Stuttering is a speech disorder characterized by interruptions in the normal flow of speech. It often involves repetitions of sounds, syllables, or words, as well as blocks and prolongations. Stuttering can have a significant impact on a child’s communication skills, self-confidence, and overall well-being. Parents need to understand that stuttering is not caused by anxiety or nervousness, but rather by complex interactions between:
- Genetic factors
- Neurological factors
- Environmental factors
Does My Child Need Therapy for Stuttering?
If your child has been stuttering for more than 8 weeks and falls within the age range of 18 months to 6 years, it is recommended to consider speech therapy as an intervention. Speech therapy can help reduce the intensity of stuttering and prevent it from becoming a lifelong problem. However, it may be difficult for parents or pediatricians to differentiate between normal disfluency in children and childhood onset fluency disorder. This is where a speech-language pathologist (SLP) plays a crucial role in screening, assessing, and providing therapy for children with communication disorders, including stuttering.
The Role of Speech Therapy for Stuttering
Speech therapy plays a vital role in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of stuttering. A team approach involving the SLP, the child’s parents, and the child themselves is essential for developing a customized intervention plan that meets the specific needs of each child and family. The primary goal of speech therapy for stuttering is to improve fluency and communication skills while enhancing the child’s self-confidence.
Stuttering Evaluation in Speech Therapy
The initial step in stuttering therapy is a comprehensive evaluation conducted by the SLP. The evaluation aims to determine the presence and severity of the stuttering or fluency disorder. During the evaluation, the SLP will interact with and observe the child, assess their fluency within the context of overall communication skills, and ask questions about potential risk factors. Based on the evaluation findings, the SLP will formulate recommendations for home programming and/or speech therapy. In some cases, referrals to other professionals may be made if concerns arise beyond the scope of communication.
Home Programming in Speech Therapy
The SLP plays a crucial role in helping create an environment that supports fluency and reduces any demands that may be contributing to the child’s stuttering. If environmental shaping is recommended during the evaluation, the SLP will review and model strategies that parents can incorporate into daily activities. This may involve providing guidance on creating a fluency-enhancing environment, implementing specific techniques, and offering support and education to parents.
If therapy is initiated, the SLP will work closely with the child and their family every week. The therapy sessions will involve discussions about home programming, determination of therapy goals, and implementation of practice activities that can be incorporated into the child’s daily routines. While therapy visits are important, the home programming practiced between sessions is crucial for the child’s progress. The SLP’s primary role is to ensure that parents understand and can carry out therapy goals and activities in the child’s everyday environment.
What to Expect from a Speech Therapy Session for Stuttering
Speech therapy sessions for stuttering are designed to be interactive, engaging, and tailored to meet the unique needs of each child. The therapy sessions may vary depending on the severity of the child’s stuttering and their individual goals. Here is an overview of what you can expect during a speech therapy session for stuttering:
1. Establishing Rapport
The SLP will prioritize building a positive and trusting relationship with the child and their family. Establishing rapport is essential for creating a comfortable and supportive environment where the child feels safe to express themselves.
2. Assessment and Goal Setting
The SLP will assess the child’s current level of fluency and communication skills to establish a baseline. Based on this assessment, therapy goals will be set in collaboration with the child and their family.
3. Fluency Techniques and Strategies
The SLP will introduce various fluency techniques and strategies to help the child manage and improve their fluency. These techniques may include slow and deliberate speech, easy onset of sounds, gentle airflow, and relaxed articulation. The SLP will provide guidance and support in implementing these techniques during therapy sessions and in daily life.
4. Language and Communication Skills
Speech therapy for stuttering also focuses on improving overall language and communication skills. The SLP will work on enhancing vocabulary, sentence structure, expressive and receptive language, and social communication skills. This holistic approach ensures that the child develops well-rounded communication abilities.
5. Parent Involvement and Home Practice
Parents play a critical role in supporting their child’s progress during speech therapy for stuttering. Speech therapy sessions will involve parents in the process, providing guidance on how to practice techniques and strategies at home. Consistent practice between therapy sessions is essential for reinforcing skills.
Speech Therapy for Stuttering in Circle of Care
Speech therapy plays a vital role in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of stuttering. By working closely with a speech-language pathologist, children with stuttering can develop improved fluency, communication skills, and self-confidence.
At Circle of Care, we’re dedicated to supporting young voices and helping children reach their full potential in communication. If you’d like to learn more about our pediatric therapy services or schedule an evaluation for your child, please contact us today. Understanding what to expect during speech therapy sessions and having realistic long-term expectations can help parents support their child’s journey towards improved fluency and a brighter future. Call us now!