Dear speech therapists,
Many of you are supportive of the Voice Unearthed perspective and are onboard with the focus on keeping kids talking rather than fixing their speech. For this reason, you express concern when you see the Voice Unearthed message possibly turning parents away from seeking out therapy. At the same time, you (privately and publicly) admit that many speech therapists have little if any background in stuttering and can do more harm than good. You talk about having to spend your time repairing the damage done by previous therapists. I’ve heard several therapists, just in the past year, exclaim, “it’s the wild west out there!”
The role of Voice Unearthed is not to get parents to take their children to therapy or to turn them away from therapy. Voice Unearthed is about:
- Encouraging parents to do their homework and learn about the controversies around therapy for children and the reasons behind those controversies.
- Helping parents understand the risks and shortcomings of much of the therapy offered today.
- Helping parents to understand that many (if not most) therapists have little experience or knowledge about this issue and harm can be done.
- Helping parents learn how to identify safe therapy that will enhance their capacity to contribute to their child’s short and long-term well-being, whether or not that child persists in the stuttering behavior.
This information is not readily available to parents through websites and support organizations and I see it as critical to their decision-making around treatment for their children. Voice Unearthed is an effort to help parents understand the reality of what many of you already know. Please be fearless in distinguishing yourselves from the therapists who are inexperienced or who only feel comfortable focusing on addressing the covert speech behaviors. Explain on your websites and in your brochures why the focus on fixing is dangerous, especially to the child who persists. Help parents to understand this different mindset and then lead the way, both with them and among your professional colleagues and organizations. Sell yourselves as the therapist who will not try to fix a child, but will instead, work hard to help parents keep their kids talking and engaged in the world around them. You are my hope and we need you – so be fearless and keep up the good work.