A group of speech therapists out of Texas is reading “Voice Unearthed: Hope, Help, and a Wake-Up Call for the Parents of Children Who Stutter” as part of a book study group. I am so honored! With permission, I am sharing the following review written by one of the therapists:
Two things in the book really stuck out when I read it. First, the idea that SLPs can actually do more harm than good when it comes to treating children who stutter really struck me to my core. As a person who stutters, this had never crossed my mind. Perhaps this is because of the fact that the SLP from my childhood actually helped me learn to become fluent, to the point where I rarely have to think about it. However the more I pondered this concept the more it made sense. For people who stutter, therapy can become a vicious cycle of trying to “fix” their speech which in turn makes them afraid to speak- just like Eli. This idea will definitely influence my approach to therapy.
Second, I absolutely loved reading about Dr. Halvorson’s approach to “therapy” with Eli. His main goal for Eli was to make him comfortable when speaking. The more I read the more it became apparent to me that this is the most important thing to address when treating individuals who stutter. Most people who stutter are never actually “freed” of it. So it makes sense that they should learn to become comfortable with their speech, whatever it may sound like. Many children who I have treated for stuttering have expressed that they are afraid to talk. Undoubtedly, this stems from years of trying to “fix” their stutter. As a result, the idea that “stuttering is bad” became firmly rooted in their mind. It goes without saying that this will affect my approach to therapy.
I have already recommended this book to the parents of my students who stutter The main goal in therapy for my students will be to make them comfortable with their speech. As all SLPs know, stuttering is intricately connected to a person’s feelings and thoughts about their speech. This idea is even more abundantly clear to me now. Targeting these related feelings has taken a more prominent role in therapy sessions with my students who stutter.
This book has also influenced my opinion on when direct therapy for stuttering should be started and how that should be approached. If direct therapy is indicated, then therapy should start by addressing feelings about their speech and targeting their comfort level during different speaking situations. The SLP should not immediately start with fluency enhancing strategies. This may in fact cause the child to view their speech negatively and exacerbate the stuttering.
This was an awesome book that really changed my life as a therapist. Thank you SO much for finding this book!!!
Katie M., Texas
It’s so promising to hear from therapists who are making the shift to keeping kids talking rather than eliminating speech errors. Hopefully the entities that educate and certify speech therapists will work on making the necessary changes in their infrastructure to support this approach. At minimum, it should be mandatory that therapists help parents to understand the risks of suggesting a child change the way they talk in order to not make speech errors. Thank you Katie, and all the others down there in Texas, for listening and for wanting to make things better for these kids.
Doreen Lenz Holte