Speech Pathology and Families

Hello, I am Lydia Lentz. I am a student at the University of Akron studying Speech-Language Pathology. I was wondering if you could help me understand more on how to communicate with the parents of young children who have a stutter or a fluency problem. What is the best way to go about telling a parent to let the children talk and let them use their own voice/not have parents finishing the kid’s sentences or answering and talking for them without coming off as rude and judgmental? Thank you.

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Speech Pathology and Families — 2 Comments

  1. Good question, Lydia! I believe one important thing to consider is that parents faced with stuttering often don’t understanding stuttering at all, so their natural reaction is to “help out” their children when they’re struggling to communicate. We can help alleviate their fears and help them respond in more productive ways by helping them understand stuttering, its variability, and what promotes a healthy communicative environment. The other side is also helping parents identify what they are already doing WELL that supports free and enjoyable communication.

    Ana Paula

  2. Lydia,

    Hello! Happy studying, and thank you for asking this great question to the professional panel. I second what my colleague Ana Paula stated, in that we for sure want to recognize that parents typically want what’s in the best interest of the well-being of their child and just want to help (most of the time). Even though we know better than to interrupt, try to finish statements or tell a child who stutters to “slow down”, a parent may feel that they are helping their child by doing this. Approaching the situation with compassion, kindness and empathy is always best, while educating and showing the parent that stuttering is such an individualized experience and we want to give a child who stutters as much agency over their own stuttering as much as possible.

    When we counsel, as counseling is within our scope of practice within the means of communication (or swallowing, for that matter), we oftentimes end up counseling the parent/guardian of a child who stutters, too. Even though we know that stuttering is not a “problem” and there is nothing to “fix” as stuttering is OK, it may be hard for a parent to hear this, especially a parent who does not want potentially to see their child go through future duress or bullying, or all of the scenarios that are possibly playing in this parent’s head- so we have to make sure we give the parent/guardian space to speak and be heard with their concerns. One-on-one conversations with the parent and counseling with the parent/guardian are just as important within the treatment process as the actual treatment sessions themselves with the young child who stutters are, because if a child is being repetitively told to slow down, or told to be fluent, and these are (as we known) unachievable goals that will can potentially cause the child to feel less than enough, then so much trauma can be inflicted upon the child because the parent/guardian didn’t know better. So- such a needed and wonderful question, dear Lydia, and I am so thankful that you asked it.

    I hope that this response helped in addition to Ana Paula’s response, and be well.