In my recent book, “Voice Unearthed: Hope, Help, and a Wake-Up Call for the Parents of Children Who Stutter,” I challenge support organizations to provide “real” options to the parents of school-aged children who are stuttering. I have been asked to clarify what I mean by “real options.”
The National Stuttering Association (NSA) and FRIENDS: The Association for Young People Who Stutter both encourage kids to talk, include elements designed to build self-confidence, and assure kids that it’s okay to stutter. Both provide a venue for kids to get up and talk in front of large and small groups. They also bring teens and adults who stutter, parents, and professionals together to share and find support. Many children and adults are well-served through their ongoing efforts.
At the same time, the vast majority of professionals associated with these organizations are trained to and believe in an approach to therapy that includes equipping school-aged children with their toolbox of speech techniques in order to manage their speech.
Parents deserve to be educated about real options, options that focus on managing speech and using speech tools and techniques, and options that focuses on keeping our kids talking, completely devoid of the toolbox expectation. Parents deserve to understand the risks of both approaches and to be able to make decisions that feel right to them and their kids.
This is what I mean by “real options” and my challenge to these support organizations is to courageously embrace these different perspectives, respectfully present them side-by-side, and let parents decide.