|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.|
As a self-admitted sports junkie, a fair number of my treatment activities with school-aged and adolescent children who stutter have a sports-related theme. This turns out to be an effective tool because many children like to talk about sports and we can relate many of the motor coordination discussions about stuttering to some type of athletic activity.
In one such sports-related activity, Pick Your Team, children decide which sport they would like to "coach." They then choose the players they would like to have on their respective team. This can include their friends, high school players, college players, or professional players.
As we work through the activity, children must develop a team logo related to some aspect of stuttering. For example, they can draw a picture of any of the anatomical structures used for speaking as their logo. They can also name their team based on some theme related to stuttering (e.g., "Brooklyn Blocks"). This is an important component of the activity because it allows the child to discuss some aspects related to stuttering in a more detailed manner. Children can make flyers promoting their team, while discussing the basis for the team name.
After the children decide which players will be representing their team, they must make a set of team rules based on the presumption that everyone on their team stutters. Some of the rules generated by the children have included:
Asking a child what they want out of therapy often elicits the response of "to stop stuttering." However, in most cases, what they actually want is to not feel different from their peers, to have an easier time speaking, and to be accepted for who they are, whether they stutter or not. This activity is one way to find out what goals are really important to the child, that is critical to know for clinicians, parents, teachers, and others involved in the child's life.