Positive speech therapy experiences

Hello, my name is Analiese Cox and I am an undergraduate student at CSUF studying communication disorders. I am taking a fluency class this semester, and we recently had the opportunity to hear from a few PWS and they discussed their experiences in speech therapy. If you had a positive experience in speech therapy, what was it? Thank you in advance!

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Positive speech therapy experiences — 1 Comment

  1. That was an interesting question, Analiese.
    I’ve had many positive speech therapy experiences, as well as many negative ones – over a period of decades.
    But when thinking over your question, one particular clinician and program come to mind as having provided extraordinarily helpful therapeutic insights.

    When I was 30 years old, I attended the Precision Fluency Shaping Program at the Hollins Communications Research Institute, Roanoke, Virginia. In this program, I learned fluency shaping methods based on relaxing diaphragmatic breathing, gentle onsets, loudness contouring of syllables, and stretched stabilized vocalized sounds. After the three-week program, I practiced intensively and daily for an hour or more, and after three months, I finally reached the point where I was fluent in all situations – for the first time in my life! I was so excited!

    My successes lasted for months, but I eventually reduced my intense daily practice – it was very tiring to maintain this – and eventually my fluency fell apart. For years, I kept returning for periodic week-long fluency refreshers, and was able to bring the old “fluency magic” back, as long as I maintained intensive daily practice afterwards.

    My clinician of choice for these refreshers was Ross Barrett (based at the Eastern Virginia Medical Center, Norfolk). Ross is an expert at fluency shaping, a person who stutters who has thoroughly mastered the techniques (called “targets”) of Precision Fluency. Since he knows stuttering from his own life, he was able to provide numerous special insights in fluency maintenance, very practical advice, that the fluent clinicians at the Hollins Institute were unable to provide. He explained to us certain very helpful adjustments to the Hollins instructions, based on his own personal experiences. He was able to guide us in combining the different targets into a unified whole, rather than zeroing in on specific minor details. In addition he taught us how to integrate natural vocal expressions with the fluency shaping targets, and to sound perfectly natural in our speech as we did so. And he showed a particular empathy with our challenges, which was much appreciated, as he himself had also faced these challenges.
    In my experience, Ross’s therapy exemplified the very best in speech clinical practice (and I experienced more than 30 speech therapists over a period of decades, with vastly differing approaches).

    I understand that Ross is now retired from clinical practice. (My clinical experiences with him were 30-35 years ago.)
    It is important for clinicians to 1) be very knowledgeable about stuttering, and to be familiar with various approaches to stuttering therapies; 2) be able to empathize with the challenges faced by people who stutter – by understanding the feelings, attitudes, and perspectives of people who stutter; and 3) meet the particular therapeutic needs expressed by people who stutter, whether these are learning of fluency-enhancing techniques, or reducing stresses/anxieties/avoidances, or increased acceptance of oneself as a person who stutters, or any combination of these.

    I wish you the best of luck in your chosen career!