About the presenter: Craig Coleman received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees at the University of Pittsburgh. He has served as President of the Pennsylvania Speech and Hearing Association and on the Legislative Council of the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association (ASHA). Craig is a Board-Recognized Specialist in Fluency Disorders. Craig provides clinical service to preschool, school-age, and adolescent children who stutter at Children's Hospital's of Pittsburgh-East satellite and is involved in clinical research activities.
About the presenter: Mary Weidner received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She has served as Student Representative of the Pennsylvania Speech and Hearing Association. Mary currently works as a speech-language pathologist at Children's Hospital's of Pittsburgh--East and is involved in stuttering assessment and treatment.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2009.

Using Stories to Teach Fluency Strategies to Young Children

by Craig Coleman and Mary Weidner
from Pennsylvania, USA

Parents are often encouraged to read to their young children because of the language stimulation it provides. In addition to the apparent language benefits, stories are also a powerful teaching tool. Stories are often used to teach children how to handle difficult situations. They also can be a helpful tool for parents to discuss moral lessons with their child. For example, many parents use stories to teach children about potty-training, going to the doctor, the death of a loved one, and/or making good decisions.

Because of the teaching value of stories, we have started to develop a series of books that target specific fluency-enhancing concepts. These books are designed for speech-language pathologists and parents to effectively teach abstract fluency-enhancing concepts in a way that is concrete and meaningful to the child and will be available at http://www.mcspeechbooks.com. The books are aimed at helping children achieve the following goals:

Each story presents a dilemma that is used to illustrate one specific fluency- enhancing strategy (e.g. reduced rate of speech). The story line emphasizes why the target concept is important (e.g. speaking slowly ensures that your message will be more clearly understood). In addition, the interactive stories are constructed in a way that provides ample opportunity for structured modeling (on behalf of the reader), practice (on behalf of the child), and carryover. The stories also provide the child and clinician a common reference point in discussing and rehearsing concepts during treatment (e.g. Tarby talked fast and no one could understand him). This makes concepts more concrete, and may aid in the child's production and generalization of the target skill.

The book that we will focus on here (which is freely available at the end of this article), "Tarby Rockets to Slower Speech," specifically teaches children how to use pausing, phrasing, and appropriate turn-taking. These skills are used to target reduced rate of speech, a fluency-enhancing tool which might also be beneficial for children with other speech and language disorders. The main character, Tarby, learns that talking too fast makes it difficult for people to understand him. He also learns that doing things quickly is not always the best way to accomplish his goals. This story is the first in a series aimed to target other speech modification and stuttering modification strategies, along with desensitization and overall communication.

Children are motivated by the relatable fictional characters of the Tarby series. In our experience, it is evident that the children more quickly comprehend the target concept and are more willing to produce it when the concept is presented in a meaningful manner. Speech-language pathologists may use the stories in order to introduce target concepts or compliment existing therapy. Parents may also use these stories to encourage home-based practice. No matter how you choose to use them, we hope you find the stories both a useful and fun tool!!

Tarby Rockets to Slower Speech

Instructions on how to use Tarby Rockets to Slower Speech

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the authors before October 22, 2009.

SUBMITTED: August 31, 2009
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