Just finished reading, for the second time, Dr. Gunars Neiders’ book, From Stuttering to Fluency: Manage Your Emotions and Live More Fully. Dr. Neiders is a psychologist and a person who stutters. He enlists Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) to address shame and anxiety so often at the heart of our children’s struggle to talk.
I’m guessing his intention was to write for an audience of adults as he doesn’t specifically address therapy for children. That said, I think the insights and recommendations can be very useful in helping parents and speech therapists minimize shame and anxiety in the first place. While he states “We believe the low success rate is the result of SLP’s focusing exclusively on changing the mechanics of speech,” I also believe that ANY focus on the mechanics of children’s speech comes with tremendous risks of increasing shame and anxiety. I don’t know that he would agree, I just might have to ask him!
Neiders believes that most speech therapists are “ill-equipped to directly or systematically address the fears and anxieties of their clients” and I would go on to say that most speech therapists are over-equipped to address the speech mechanics. They see immediate results in their clinics and these results are easy to measure.
He also emphasizes the whole picture – the goal of overall quality of life versus fewer speech errors. Neiders states “People who learn to control their anxiety about stuttering often report that they become more fluent. With or without additional fluency, less anxiety and greater participation in life adds to the overall quality of our existence.”
If I had read this book when Eli was young, I’m sure I would have done things differently. Dr. Neiders not only introduces the idea of using REBT-focused therapy with those who stutter, but he also provides a very readable book with simple but potentially life-changing support strategies.
From Stuttering to Fluency: Manage Your Emotions and Live More Fully by Dr. Gunars Neiders is available through Amazon.
Doreen (Dori) Lenz Holte
Author of Voice Unearthed: Hope, Help, and a Wake-Up Call for the Parents of Children Who Stutter