Yesterday I posted a Voice Unearthed book quote – a comment made by our son in 2009 when he was 12. He said:
“Going to speech therapy made me have the idea that stuttering was bad. They’d say it was okay and then they’d tell me not to do it.”
Several leaders in the field pushed back, pointing out that great therapy is now available and fluency-based therapy, what we experienced, is falling by the wayside. They are right but here’s the catch. In the 1980’s, I worked in a marketing department considered one of the best in the world. The sign in the conference room read, “Perception is reality.” Our son’s perception was his reality. The professionals’ perception of the availability of great and improved therapy options is their reality. A parent’s perception of options (which is often very limited) is their reality. All of these realities are valid, they just don’t always line up. For example:
#1: One professional mentioned that “Avoidance Reduction Therapy” has been around for decades and she’s right. But how does a parent find a therapist trained and experienced in this approach? How does a parent even learn about “Avoidance Reduction Therapy?” Is there even a therapist trained in that specific approach in their geographical or financial orbit? What is the likelihood that a child going into school-based therapy will have this option?
Trade out “Avoidance Reduction Therapy” with another approach, let’s say “Parent Child Interaction Therapy:”
#2: “Parent Child Interaction Therapy” has been around for decade but how does a parent find a therapist trained and experienced in this approach? How does a parent even learn about “Parent Child Interaction Therapy?” Is there even a therapist trained in that specific approach in their geographical or financial orbit? What is the likelihood that a child going into school-based therapy will have this option?
Yes, there are options, but accessing those options leaves a lot to be desired. When it comes to stuttering, the terms “speech therapy” and “early intervention” can look so different from therapist to therapist that they are empty of meaning. The therapies themselves, even those considered “evidence-based,” are dramatically different with varying goals and outcomes. Where does a parent go to assess options, make comparisons, and learn about the shortcomings and the risks? That’s my next book, but hey, if someone beats me to it – hallelujah!!
Under the current system, at least in the United States, the options available to a specific family are pretty much a crap shoot. This is why I’m excited about the recent Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact (ASLP-IC) passed between 10+ states allowing licensing reciprocity for teletherapy. Hopefully this movement will gain momentum and dramatically broaden the therapy options for children who stutter and their families. In the meantime, Voice Unearthed will continue to do what we can to empower parents with the information they need to make safer choices.
Keep our kids talking and engaged in the world around them!!