What about the kids?

I am encouraged to see mental health approaches (CBT, ACT, REBT, NLP, etc)  emerge as a helpful interventions to be included in treatment strategies, and yet, most of these conversations are referring to adults.  We need a more intentional focus on prevention — how can speech therapists and mental health professionals work with families to minimize the need of this type of intervention when their children become adults?  This isn’t a matter of using the same approaches for children that are used with adults.  Most speech therapists are not trained to address these issues to the degree they need to be addressed, especially with children.  I would guess too that the inclusion of a children’s mental health professional along with a speech therapist and parents (the dream team) with an intentional plan tailored to that child’s mental health around communication is rarely going to happen.  Most families and schools simply to not have the resources.  So experts — any ideas?

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What about the kids? — 3 Comments

  1. Great question….one way to help address this issue (perhaps a small way) is already being done at many universities in the U.S. (probably other countries as well). For example, at Baylor University, we have a clinic that provides services for the whole gamut of speech and language disorders, at a nominal cost to parents. The therapy is provided by graduate students who are supervised by experienced SLPs according to ASHA’s guidelines. There are also Ph.D. level faculty (like myself) who are able to assist and provide training and consultation, as needed. For example, even though I don’t supervise in clinic, I teach the grad fluency course and also provide clinical in-services for students who will have a fluency client that semester.

    Hope this helps…I’m sure others will have additional ideas.

  2. There are many stuttering therapy programs for children (preschool kids, school age kids, and teens) that have been developed that focus on a variety of areas including desensitization to stuttering, education about what stuttering is, basic communication skills, increasing acceptance and reducing negative reactions to stuttering. Many of these are commercially available for speech-language pathologists to use in their practice. They are intended to be used by speech-language pathologists, rather than psychologists. With these types of programs, the speech-language pathologist can integrate speech modification with other elements (thoughts, feelings, social interaction, etc.). Even though these therapy approaches may not have the official title of some of the adult programs that you mentioned, they contain elements of these practices at a child friendly level. Working with a mental health professional could, for some children, be a helpful supplement, but there are in fact many programs specifically created by and for speech-language pathologists to deal with the impact that stuttering has on a child’s life socially, emotionally, and psychologically.

  3. As is true in Paul’s case, at Illinois State University I provide support for graduate students as they work with families of children who stutter. I do not have a clinical caseload, but do teach undergraduate and graduate courses in fluency, and teach students how to use cognitive behavioral therapy with school-age children. I was inspired by Lisa Scott at Florida State University, who has done clinical work with CBT with the school-age population. Some of her work is focused on helping children form support groups of family, teachers, and friends, recognize and separate thoughts and feelings about stuttering, and realize their values in regard to communication. Through CBT, she helps them plan ways they want to change their communication, make hypotheses about what will happen if they change, and go out and test their new behaviors. This approach, plus the valuable approaches that Michael mentioned about exploring stuttering and working on desensitization, go a long way to helping children cope with their feelings and thoughts about stuttering.
    Kind regards,