Did you know that Skill Builders offers fluency therapy? This topic can be a little elusive and hard to navigate for parents. Our resident fluency specialist, Julie Aills, took some time to address some common myths for us!
Myth 1: You shouldn’t say the word “stuttering”
Fact: There are many words to describe stuttering, including “dysfluency”, “bumpy speech” and “stuck speech”. The specific term we use is not as important as the intent in which the word is used and the environment we create around the word. The term “stuttering” is the most common term, and it is likely that school age children will hear this word at some point. By creating a taboo atmosphere around one particular word, we may also create the unintended consequence of making that child feel ashamed or embarrassed. It is crucial that fluency therapy, or any discussions about stuttering, is approached in a positive and safe environment. School age children should be encouraged to talk using the terms that make them feel most comfortable.
Myth 2: Stuttering only impacts speech
Fact: Stuttering is classified as a communication disorder because it impacts more than one’s ability to speak fluently. Fluency therapy treats the whole child, including their thoughts and feelings about their stuttering. It is also important that a child who stutters is treated by a speech pathologist so that they can assess the impact the stutter may be having on the child’s expressive language, play and peer interactions.
Myth 3: Stuttering can be caused through exposure to another peer or adult who stutters
Fact: Research has shown that children cannot “catch” stuttering from another person who stutters, regardless of their exposure. Although there is no known, definitive cause of stuttering, current research reveals that stuttering is a multi-dimensional disorder influenced by a variety of factors including: genetics, neurological functioning, language, oral-motor skills, attitudes and temperament, psychological events and reactions to the environment.
Myth 4: Preschool stuttering is normal and the best approach is to “wait and see”
Fact: Although it may seem difficult to predict whether or not a preschool stuttering will resolve on its own, speech therapists use research-based norms to decide if a child should be monitored or if some level of intervention is necessary. Therapeutic intervention ranges from monthly consultations, short term therapy, parent training or long term therapy. Below is a criteria our speech therapists use when deciding where to start when a family comes to us with concerns about preschool stuttering:
|Consultation and Monitor||Full Evaluation|
|Problem present less than 12 mos.||Problem present over 12-18 months|
|Onset under 3.5||Onset after 3.5|
|Very episodic||Fairly consistent|
|More normal types of disfluency||Part-word repetitions, prolongations, or blocks|
|Child is unaware||Child is aware or momentarily expresses frustration|
|Parents not overly concerned||Parents are concerned|
|No other developmental issues||Other developmental issues present|
|No history of stuttering in family||Positive history of stuttering|
Myth 5: Stuttering can be fixed by telling child to slow down and think before speaking
Fact: Although many people who stutter also present with a fast rate of speech, fluency therapy is not “one size fits all”. There are two main approaches to fluency therapy: stuttering modification and fluency shaping. Stuttering modification includes therapeutic techniques aimed at reducing the frequency and severity of stuttering behaviors and fluency shaping focuses on improving speech fluency behaviors such as pausing and phrasing, healthy breathing behaviors and speaking rate. Speech therapy for stuttering will also typically include strategies for reducing any negative thoughts, feeling or avoidance behaviors.
Happy Valentine’s Day!