About the presenter: Lynne Shields is a professor in the communication disorder and deaf education department at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri, where she teaches courses in fluency disorders, language disorders, counseling and phonetics, and supervising in the university speech & language clinic. She is a board recognized specialist in fluency disorders.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2011.

Doing Surveys with Children

by Lynne Shields
from Missouri, USA

Stuttering surveys are often used as an activity in therapy, particularly with teens and adults, as a vehicle for desensitization. The person giving the survey most often introduces themselves as someone who stutters while stuttering openly, and then asks the informant questions such as whether they know people who stutter, what stuttering is, or what causes stuttering. This activity can be adapted to younger children quite successfully by gearing the survey to the child's interests and abilities. Children as young as kindergarten or first grade can have fun with this activity, and it can be used for several purposes. For children who seldom talk to others, a survey can be a way for them to simply begin talking to other people in a structured activity. If this is the purpose, then there is no need for them to do anything other than carry out a survey with other people of their own choosing, familiar or unfamiliar. A child who is sensitive about stuttering openly might be asked to consider putting voluntary stutters in their speech when they give a survey, or a child wanting to learn how to use one or more of their speech tools outside of therapy may find it easy to do while giving a survey. Whatever goal is chosen by the child and therapist, the child is put in charge of coming up with a survey topic, generating both the questions and the survey response forms, and selecting the audience to be given the survey.

Below are examples of survey activities that were designed by two of the children seen for therapy at our university clinic:

  1. Jeff, a seven year old, agreed that it would be a good idea to learn to put easy stutters in his speech when talking to unfamiliar people. He decided that he wanted to do a survey to find out about people's favorite food. He chose to limit the choices to hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken nuggets, and told us that he was sure that hot dogs would be the favorite. He drew pictures of the choices on a piece of paper with a box beside each one and put it on a clip board. After practicing what he planned to say with several familiar listeners, Jeff went out to find college students and staff on the campus of the university where our clinic is located. He stopped about a dozen people and asked them, using some easy voluntary stutters, if they would tell him which they liked best, naming the three food choices, and then marked their choices on his form. He thanked each person for taking his survey. To his surprise, hamburgers were favored overwhelmingly. He said that he thought this was because everyone he talked to was 'old', and that the outcome would be different if he asked kids. On his own, he decided to repeat the survey at his school, and happily reported to us at the following session that hot dogs won hands down.

  2. Adam, 10 years of age, set a goal for himself to use pull outs in his speech when talking with people outside of clinic. He chose to survey students, faculty and staff around the clinic, where some people were familiar and others were not, but all were in a familiar location and all knew about therapy. He chose three jokes, writing them down, along with a script of how he would ask people to participate. He asked each person if they would listen to his jokes and then tell him which they liked best. Adam successfully surveyed the clinic secretary, office manager, two faculty members, and a number of university students. He was pleased that his favorite joke was most often picked by the survey-takers, and reported that it felt good to tell his jokes while not worrying if he stuttered or not, because he was looking for a stutter to happen so he could pull out of it.
Each of these children had control over the survey from the planning through to reporting what was good or not good about the experience, and as a result, the experiences were perceived as being positive by both of them. If you have done surveys with younger children, I would like to hear about your experiences, or if any young readers want to share their thoughts on this activity, please post your comments.

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the authors before October 22, 2011.

SUBMITTED: July 29, 2011
Translate this page into your language

Return to the opening page of the conference