How to support and educate parents of children who stutter

I am curious about the best ways to both educate and support the parents of children who stutter. I feel as though there is a large stigma around stuttering, and many parents choose to avoid their child’s stutter, rather than discussing it. What are the best techniques to educate parents on the effects of stuttering in their children? How can we go about this without offending the parents we are working with?

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How to support and educate parents of children who stutter — 2 Comments

  1. Hi! My name is Andrea and I am currently a graduate student enrolled in a stuttering course. I have a younger brother who stutters and my family has never really talked about this. He saw an SLP all throughout elementary school, but even when he was going through speech therapy I really had no clue what he did there or if he found it helpful.

    When I started my stuttering course I became a lot more curious about my brother’s experience as a PWS and how he felt about therapy. I realized that we had never really had a conversation about his stuttering and that felt odd to me because we are a close family. When I did bring up the conversation my brother was very open to having honest discussions about how his stuttering has impacted his life, things that we did growing up (such as finishing his sentences) that bothered him, and his feelings about working with an SLP when he was younger. This has led to more conversations with my entire family. Although we do not often have conversations surrounding stuttering it no longer feels like a sensitive subject to bring up.

    Being a first year graduate student, I have never had to counsel another family on the effects of stuttering but in my family having honest conversations and providing my family with some of the basic facts that I have learned about what causes stuttering has helped greatly. I feel that the most important component was desensitizing stuttering and learning that it was not a dirty word. I hope that helps!

  2. Andrea gave some very helpful input about talking with her brother about his stuttering. Helping families to begin to have these sorts of conversations is so important. Sometimes, all it takes is letting parents know that it really is OK to talk about stuttering with their child, that it will not make the stuttering worse, which is what many parents have been told in the past. This notion has stayed around, so that it has become something of an ‘old wives’ tale’, even though it may have begun by professionals back in Wendall Johnson’s day, when he theorized that stuttering began in the parents’ ears, with them labeling disfluencies as stuttering or reacting negatively to their child’s disfluencies.

    Educating parents about the nature of and what we know about the causes of stuttering will go a long way toward helping them be more comfortable with stuttering and willing to engage in conversations with their child. There are many great materials available to educate both clients and families about stuttering. Any time that we can do to demystify stuttering will tend to bring about more openness about stuttering. The Stuttering Foundation, National Stuttering Association, FRIENDS: National Association of Young People Who Stutter, the British Stammering Association, and many more great groups, offer information, as well as support for families who are living with stuttering.

    WHen families find it uncomfortable to talk about stuttering simply because they have remained silent about it for years, I find it helpful to facilitate conversations within therapy sessions, modeling talking about stuttering in an open and comfortable manner.

    Best wishes as you begin your career!

    Regards,

    Lynne Shields