Strategies

Hi there! I’m a SLP student at the University of Akron in Ohio, and I was wondering what are some strategies or tactics an SLP can use with a person who stutters to help them succeed. I know it can be extremely frustrating to the victim and I was curious as to how SLP’s can make it easier and more comfortable for them.

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Strategies — 1 Comment

  1. Hello! Thank you for asking your questions to the professional panel. I am very thankful to be able to answer your questions here. First off, congratulations on your studies, and welcome to the amazing world of speech-language pathology. This field is absolutely beautiful and amazing.
    Your question is very general, but I will provide some guidance and answers to try to help you some.
    The first things that stuck out to me about your question, was your use of wording. Some individuals who stutter are sensitive about words that we use, and some are not. Just like you are I would be about wording- we prefer some terminology to others. The person sitting in front of you is a human being, and we must always remember that first and foremost, so this person is our equal. Let’s look a bit at your question wording and see if a person we serve in the therapy room would potentially be sensitive to this wording- this isn’t to nitpick or make you feel bad, but to provide a learning opportunity. This is how I learned- so hopefully this helps you too. 🙂 In the first part of your question, you mentioned “tactics an SLP can use with a person who stutters to help them succeed.” If I were to meet a person who stutters for the first time, and ask this person, “how can I best help you succeed?” I might upset them quite a bit. Let’s step back a bit and think about success in itself and that word. How do you personally define success? Is success for you a diploma on the wall, or is it the single parent that gets food on the table at night? What does it mean to you? (I am not trying to sway your opinion in any way, just stimulating your thinking, here) can success be both or all of the above? How does this person in front of you for therapy define success? Here is where our therapeutic relationship starts. One of the first conversations I have with an individual who stutters is- what terms do you use for your stuttering experience? This person may not even like the word “stuttering”… I have seen this a lot less often, but it has happened. You want to be sensitive to terminology, and use terms that only the person sitting in front of you for therapy is comfortable with- because it is their stuttering journey, not your own. 🙂 How does this person define success and what does this mean to them (if this is a word that is going to be used) and perhaps this word isn’t used at all. 😉 The next word that I noticed is the word “victim.” I have heard a person who stutters themselves use this term to describe their own stuttering, but never an SLP. This is a very heavy word- a traumatic word, and a word that describes a very harsh journey. I will tell you, not all journeys with stuttering are harsh and traumatic. Some are, but not all are. Stuttering is a very individualized experience, and not one person who stutters experience is the exact same as another person’s (just like your life isn’t the exact same as another person’s life.) So, make sure to allow even children to name their own stuttering, and adults to use terms that they wish to in reference to their own stuttering. With that, I see so much empathy in your question- so kudos! I see words like making it “easier” and “comfortable”- that shows so much compassion in your question. Don’t knock yourself about the wording- you just didn’t know, and until someone tells us, we don’t know. Now that I have told you, tell others. 🙂 You have empathy- I see it in your words at the end of your question- and that is so admirable; you even participating in this panel is admirable and such a great start to helping the most beautiful community of people that I know: the community of people who stutter. So, what are some strategies? I am going to leave you with one general strategy. To me, as a professional, this is the most important strategy of them all that you can possess as an effective clinician in treating people who stutter: LISTENING. Yes, we must learn the clinical skills to be able to do this. Yes, we must learn research-based strategies, and all of these things… but if we do not listen to the people we are serving first, and show them that we care- they will not come back to us for any of it. So, above all else, LISTEN to them- show them that they matter, and that they are you human equal- form that therapeutic alliance and bond/trust. I hope this helps to answer your question. Keep being amazing, and educate those you know- because now, you know better too. 🙂 Just as I had to learn. You’ve so got this. Move onward and forward, study hard, get through grad school, and make a difference in the world.

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