Questions to Professionals

Hello I am currently in my undergrad for SLP and was wondering as an SLP what are some things that we could do as future SLPs to help PWS to be able to feel safe and comfortable and how to approach it? What are some Dos and Donts?

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Questions to Professionals — 4 Comments

  1. Thanks for asking a great question. The most important “Do” is to develop an understanding of the lived experience by attending support groups and listening to the narrative of children and adults who stutter. You are getting an awesome start by being on this conference. Another “Do” is to keep your therapy client driven and dynamic. Each person who stutters has a unique experience so therapy will be different for each person who sits with you at the therapy table. “Do” be flexible and willing to learn from your client. They are the expert on their stuttering. “Do” develop a therapeutic alliance that allows you to connect with your client. Make sure that the goals you develop are shared goals.

    If you bring compassion, listening, and connection to the therapy table, there is no room for “don’t”s.

    thanks for your question,

  2. Hello! This is an excellent question, and I absolutely love your wording of “feeling safe”; you are already showing so much compassion with this question and with your involvement in this online conference; well done. I second so many things my colleague Rita said in response to your question already. I always say, the best thing you can do for a person who stutters is to listen- because you may be the first person to do that in their life. Within listening, not only just listen but use active listening skills. One strategy I teach to grad students in my Fluency Disorders course is while actively listening to an individual, to use a carrier phrase such as, “what I hear you saying is….” and paraphrase what the individual said. I have a colleague that uses this technique when communicating in common conversation, and not only do I feel listened to as a communicator, but I can really tell she cares and is with the conversation. Using active listening skills with people who stutter in the clinic can be so effective and help the person to feel safe in the therapy room. We cannot make the people that we are serving feel a certain way, and each person we serves walks into our therapy rooms for different reasons and with a story that comes with previous life experiences, but we can do our best to foster a safe, accepting and compassionate environment when we treat.

    Regarding “don’ts”, there are some generalized things that people who stutter don’t appreciate others doing- however given that stuttering is an individualized experience, the best practice with this is to really as the person you are serving in the therapy room what they prefer themselves within their personal stuttering journey. For example, most people who stutter do not like to be interrupted while speaking (others finishing their statements for them, etc.) but I have been in situations with close friends who stutter when they have specifically told me, “I know I don’t usually say this, but when we go into this restaurant, if I stutter when they ask for my name, will you please give them yours?” and I comply with that friend’s wishes in the moment. So, ask the people you serve in the future what they prefer in given situations regarding communication preferences, and do recognize that their preferences may change situationally. There is a wonderful free resource on the Stuttering Foundation of America website (there are so many great resources out there- but you want to make sure to use reliable and credible resources when giving information to people you serve; resources that are also useful to give to parents of children who stutter, teachers, and community members regarding stuttering awareness- for future reference) 🙂 and here is a link for you:

    6 Tips for Speaking With Someone Who Stutters:

    I hope that this information helps you with your question and to give you some resource. Be well, and thanks again for asking a question to the professional panel.

  3. Dear Daniajawad (sorry there was no name just your log in),

    HI! Thank you for writing. This is a great question, and congrats on being an undergrad and being an advocate for your education.

    There are many MANY opinions of DOs and DON’Ts. What we have to say here is not an exhaustive list at all, just some thoughts to get you started.

    DOs: 1) Be kind 2) Practice Active/Mindful Listening skills 3)Be ethical and pay on as much knowledge and education to your clients and families 4) Show compassion 5)Make goals and activities function to each individual person who stutters 6)Be aware of what the person who stutters wants 7) Remember we are not mechanics, we do not fix people, we HELP people. 8)Let people be the people they want to be 9) Ask questions to learn as much as you can about the person who stutters

    DON’T: 1) Assume you know everything about stuttering, ever. 2)Assume you know what the person who stutters wants 3)Don’t ignore powerful words, comments, or negative moments because you are uncomfortable. People share with us because they are reaching out. So be WITH them. 4)Don’t get stuck on one way to do something, keep learning. 5) Don’t assume you have to stutter to help people who stutter. Some of the best therapist I know are not people who stutter, however they understand human struggle and are well educated with helping people who stutter.

    There are many more, and, these are starting points.

    Keep asking questions!
    Be WEll!
    With compassion and kindness,

  4. Hi,

    In addition to what has already been shared by my colleagues, it is important to remember that each person is unique and should be treated as such. We can use the widely available list of Do’s and Don’ts; however, at the end of the day, best to ask each person what their preference is. I highly recommend reading this article on the very topic (full disclosure, I am one of the authors):

    Louis, K. O. S., Irani, F., Gabel, R. M., Hughes, S., Langevin, M., Rodriguez, M., … & Weidner, M. E. (2017). Evidence-based guidelines for being supportive of people who stutter in North America. Journal of fluency disorders, 53, 1-13.


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