Be sure the SLP you choose has specific training and experience with stuttering. This is very important to a positive therapy outcome. Ideally, you want to find a Board Recognized Specialist in Fluency Disorders (BRS-FD) who can work with your child. A fluency specialist is someone who has specialized training in stuttering.
- What is the SLP’s specific approach to stuttering? What strategies do they teach, how do they teach those strategies, what programs influence their approach to therapy? Is their approach to therapy a good match for your child’s personality?
- Make sure the SLP’s personality is a good fit with your child. Interview the therapist prior to beginning therapy. Bring your child with you. You can tell a lot from watching your child and the therapist interact for even a few minutes.
- Are the programs/therapy models they are using age-appropriate? (For example, when children are young, therapy is often game playing and modeling slow easy speech. As a child gets older and more aware of their stuttering , more direct therapy methods are appropriate.
- What is the SLP doing to stay current and informed? Do they attend continuing education training (CE), such as conferences, workshops, seminars?
- Does the SLP establish realistic goals for therapy? Are the goals in line with what you expect from therapy? You, your child and the therapist must be on the same page.
- Does the SLP treat the whole person? Do they provide support not only for stuttering, but also the feelings that will almost certainly emerge as a child who stutters matures? Do they address how the child can handle negative reactions and possible teasing from their peers? What tools does the SLP provide to assist your child manage challenging situations? Do they appropriately involve family members in the treatment process?
Finding the Right SLP for Your Child – School
You often do not have a choice of SLPs for your child in the public school setting. The information below will assist you in creating a positive speech therapy experience at school.
- Some school SLPs are, unfortunately, not properly equipped to work with kids who stutter in a meaningful, productive, or supportive manner. They may have only worked with a few children who stutter, or they may only work infrequently with children who stutter. It is extremely important that you ask what their experience is and how they will build upon it if their exposure to and providing speech therapy services for children who stutter is limited.
- The school SLP should be agreeable to coordinating therapy with your child’s private SLP (if there is one).
- In addition to providing speech therapy, the school SLP should assist with creating a supportive environment in the classroom. Part of the school SLP’s role is keeping the classroom teacher informed about what the teacher can do in class to assist your child.
It is important to keep in mind that while the SLP at your child’s school may not have as much experience providing therapy for children who stutter as they do with other speech disorders, they are dedicated professionals that want to do what is in the best interests of the children they serve. Keep the lines of communication open between you, your child, private SLP and school SLP for the best possible outcome.
Submitted by Robert W. Quesal, Ph.D. and J. Scott Yaruss, PhD, CCC-SLP, BRS-FD (3/2012)