|About the presenter: Crystal S. Cooper, M.S., CCC-SLP, ASHA Fellow, is a program instructor at Nova Southeastern University, Fischler School of Education, Programs in Speech, Language, and Communication Disorders. She is retired from her position as Lead Speech-Language Pathologist/Curriculum Associate for the Tuscaloosa City Schools. She is co-author, with her husband, Eugene B. Cooper of Cooper Personalized Fluency Control Therapy. The author of over 45 publications, she has presented workshops on collaborative models for fluency assessment and treatment in school settings throughout the United States and Europe. Her work with school age children who stutter was featured on the ABC-TV program "20/20."|
Upon entering elementary school classrooms throughout my 28-year career as a school-based speech-language pathologist, I frequently encountered greetings from children who were not enrolled in speech therapy. Some examples of their comments would be: "Can I come to speech?" or "It's not fair that you always take Jeffery just because he stutters, but you never take me!" On the other hand, some of my children who were enrolled in therapy expressed frustration that their classmates "think that all we do in speech is play games. They don't understand that we really work hard!" Based upon those comments, along with the philosophy that intrinsic to therapy success is the need for peer involvement and the development of client self-esteem, we began one of the most successful (and challenging) therapy activities: Bring A Friend to Speech Days.
Description of Clinical Activity Each student enrolled in therapy is encouraged to invite a classmate to a therapy session. The child with a fluency disorder "teaches" a friend about the Fluency Initiating Gestures (FIGs) and introduces SuperFIG, a cartoon character fluency superhero (Cooper, E.B. & Cooper C.S. 2003). The speech student selects a favorite therapy activity and assumes the role of FIG teacher and fluency expert. The child who stutters demonstrates a specific FIG and evaluates the classmate's performance. Observing the child who stutters become the "teacher" is an eye opening, and sometime hilarious experience. The friend, called a "Speech Buddy," is asked to remind the student, through use of a "secret code" created by the students, to use fluency controls within the classroom and other school settings.
In order to ensure success and foster positive attitudes, the main stipulation for the student enrolled in therapy, is that the classmate selected to visit the speech session must be someone who does not make fun of anyone who stutters or who is "different" in any other way. It is a good lesson in sensitivity and tolerance. The discussion also provides the child who stutters with an opportunity to share experiences about peer attitudes and behaviors which effect self-concept. The discussion opens the door for the clinician to assist the child to develop coping strategies to deal with negative peer experiences.
Summary: Some of the positive of outcomes of Bring A Friend to Speech Day are the following:
Cooper, E.B., & Cooper, C.S. (2003). Cooper Personalized Fluency Control Therapy for Children (3rd Edition). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed. www.proedinc.com
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