Speech-language pathologists often tell us that they feel uncertain about how to approach stuttering therapy—and one of the issues that they report feeling most uncomfortable with is figuring out what goals are most appropriate. This is understandable, because there is a lot of conflicting information and advice about there about what we’re supposed to do to help people who stutter.
Fortunately, we have a really great source of guidance to help us in our journey toward improving our understanding of stuttering, that is, people who actually stutter!
People who stutter have lived through all sorts of therapy experiences, some of them good and some of them bad, so they can tell us exactly what works for them—and what doesn’t.
In fact, there are many articles, books, blog posts, podcasts, and other materials by people who stutter describing their therapy experiences. There are even empirical research studies examining people’s therapy preferences that can serve as a guide (e.g., a study published by Yaruss and colleagues in 2002 describing the speech therapy and support group experiences of people who participate in the National Stuttering Association – see below).
As clinicians, we can learn a lot by listening to the stories of people who stutter and by reading those articles, and that’s what this post is all about – encouraging SLPs to listen to what people who stutter are telling us about what they want from us, both in and out of therapy.
In other blog posts and resources, we have presented (and will continue to present) a variety of perspectives from people who stutter about what they want from stuttering therapy. As you listen to these experiences, keep in mind that there is no single strategy or goal that is right for all people who stutter. That’s why we often say, “One size does not fit all” when talking about therapy, and the reports of people who stutter confirm this to be the case.
Still, as we listen to more stories from people who stutter, we start to get a picture of what they find to be most helpful—and what we might need to stop doing because it’s either not helpful or downright harmful!
One last thought: We know that it can be a humbling experience for speech-language pathologists to hear what people who stutter really think of the therapy they’ve had, but it’s worth it. Your clients will thank you, and you’ll feel better, too, knowing that you are making a real and valuable difference in your clients’ lives.
As always, please reach out to us by email or on social media with comments or questions.
Stay tuned for more examples of what people who stutter want SLPs to know!
To get you started, here are a few of our favorite books and other resources reflecting the experiences of people who stutter. We encourage you to take a look and discover more about speakers’ experiences of living with stuttering.
Stammering Pride and Prejudice: Difference not Defect
Stuttering: Inspiring Stories and Professional Wisdom
Living with Stuttering
Yaruss, J. S., Quesal, R. W., Reeves, L., Molt, L. F., Kluetz, B., Caruso, A. J., McClure, J. A., & Lewis, F. (2002). Speech treatment and support group experiences of people who participate in the National Stuttering Association. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 27(2), 115–134. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0094-730X(02)00114-6