Good Monday morning.  Had a nicely quiet weekend and up early today with that pesky time change.  Maybe it will become the new normal?  I doubt it…  I will continue to share questions and responses that occurred in response to “The Right Time to Break Out the Stickers” (see previous post) during the October ISAD Conference. 

Another question that came up was around how, if, and when I communicated with Eli’s speech therapists.  Franky, I wasn’t a very good advocate because I knew nothing – absolutely zippo – about stuttering or therapy for children who stutter.   I figured I made the appointment, drove him there, did “special time” at home and kept him fed and watered…wasn’t that advocacy enough?  So here goes…

Q: I was wondering if you were outspoken about Eli’s therapy from the beginning or if it took several years for you to become comfortable enough to question treatments and research? When speaking to future SLPs, do you have any advice on what we can do as professionals to empower parents to advocate for their children? Martha

A: I, too, was one of those parents who didn’t feel equipped to question the professionals, at least not for many years. I agree that parents should be advocates, at the same time, the helpfulness of this advocacy depends greatly on what exactly is being advocated! If a therapist suggests that your child can use speech tools to help “manage” their speech, and you encourage this at home and at school, you are being an advocate. But is this such a good idea?

There are SLPs out there who are having parents read my book, “Voice Unearthed” prior to therapy. The book helps to educated and empower parents as they are the crucial decision-makers on this journey. It gives them a voice…kind of ironic!

Q: Did you ever encounter any situations throughout therapy where you felt the need to interject in the therapy process with the SLP and Eli? and if so how did you handle that situation?  McKayla

A: In short, some therapists allowed me to observe therapy (where, of course, it looked like Eli could successfully use his speech tools), most suggested exercises and games to do during our “special time” at home where he was to practice his speech tools. I didn’t question this because I knew nothing, absolutely zippo, about speech therapy for children who stuttered. I tried hard to support and nurture the therapist’s recommendations. Eli’s struggle went from mild, to moderate, to severe. All we were told was to keep practicing. I had nothing to offer for the SLP to go against until I did six years of research, reflection, writing, and working with Dr. Halvorson. That’s why I wrote the book, so other parents and speech therapists could be educated, self-empowered, and aware of the risks. 

Q: From a parents perspective, do you think that it is hard for parents to consult with their SLP’s regarding effectiveness of the rewards?   Allie T.

A: It depends so much on the SLP. Like in any field, some are more welcoming and receptive to parental insights, some not so much. And some parental insights are constructive, some not so much… no easy answer there! 

Next blog:   Bring the Whole Fam Damily – Or Not. 

Keep them talking!

Dori Lenz Holte