Hello! I am a school-based SLP-A and 2nd year graduate student. Do you have a memory or experience from speech therapy growing up that has left a long-lasting impact on you?

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Reflection — 2 Comments

  1. Hi mwyatt

    Thank you for your question. I’ve had two SLPs who’ve left some serious scars. But luckily I’ve also met SLPs who laughed and cried with me, followed my footsteps, challenged me and gave me tools, not only stutter-wise, but also coping skills to use in other areas as well.

    Today there are still SLPs who are focused on fluency, count “success” by the amount of stuttered words, and follow the book only, not seeing the client. But these are getting fewer for every year. Most SLPs understand today that there is so much more than the stuttered words uttered. There is covert stuttering, there is a need for variety of therapy (maybe even a combination), there is a need for listening to each other to find a connection between needs and offers.

    The better the therapist listens, thinks out of the box and adjusts therapy after the client’s needs, the more the client will open up, tell you what s/he wants and needs, and be able to use the tools provided.

    Happy ISAD and keep them talking


  2. I had a lot of speech therapy as a child, going back to age 4 (if not earlier). By the age of 16, I had – by my count – about 16 different therapists. Sadly, without exception, not one of these was able to help me with my increasingly severe stuttering.
    The large majority of my time in speech therapy as a child was totally unmemorable.
    I remember practicing sounds with kids having articulation therapy, sounds that I KNEW already how to make – simply because school speech therapists didn’t know what else to do with me.
    Sometimes a school speech therapist would record me speaking (on a bulky reel-to-reel recorder; this was before the era of cassettes) and then play my speaking back to me. I’m not sure what the purpose of this was, but it always made me feel bad to hear how disfluent I was. Sometimes I talked about my life activities, which was fine with me, but this had nothing to do with my speech.

    One particular day from my early speech therapy sticks out in my memory. It was at the end of the first grade, and I was 7 years old. During that school year I had been seeing the school speech therapist with a classmate of mine, a girl who also stuttered – but whose stuttering was much less severe than my own. It was our last therapy session of the school year.
    At the end of the session, the therapist talked to the girl. “I predict you will not stutter at all when you grow up.” The girl (whose stuttering was mild to moderate) was very happy to hear that. Then the therapist turned to me. “You will probably stutter a little bit when you grow up, just a little bit.” I had mixed feelings about that prediction. On the one hand, with my stuttering being then quite severe, it was pleasing to hear that I would only stutter “just a little bit”. But I also was a little disappointed, as I would have loved to hear the same prediction as my classmate received.
    As it was, the therapist was very wrong about both of us. My stuttering as an adult has been severe. About a decade ago, I came back into contact with my long-ago classmate who had stuttered, and she told me that stuttering was still a problem for her.
    Although I realize the therapist was trying to make us feel good about ourselves, it’s never a good idea to make predictions like that.

    After years and years of useless childhood therapy, I finally found my first real therapeutic help when I was 17. A speech pathologist introduced me to some traditional strategies such as pullouts, reducing secondary symptoms, and reducing avoidances. She also was the first therapist to actually teach me some useful information about stuttering as a disorder. (Information about the disorder wasn’t as easily obtainable then – in the early 1970’s – as it is now.) I then experienced the first speech improvements of my life, as the length of my blocking substantially decreased.
    Something that my therapist told me, shortly after beginning sessions with her, was startling.
    She told me: “Paul, you have a beautiful voice.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But she explained that the tone quality of my voice (stuttering aside) was very pleasant to listen to. I had never heard that before. This gave me a comforting glowing feeling inside, and it felt really good to hear that. This comment added to my motivation and hope to succeed as well as I could with her therapy.
    She was the first of quite a few therapists to help me to a significant degree.