About the presenter: Judith Kuster M.S. in speech-language pathology and M.S. in counseling, is an ASHA Fellow and emeritus professor of Communication Disorders at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She is the webmaster for the Stuttering Home Page as well as the coordinator of this online conference. She is a member of the ASHA Special Interest Group #4: Fluency and Fluency Disorders. She is the recipient of the ASHF DiCarlo Award for Outstanding Clinical Achievement, the 2003 Distinguished Contributor Award from the International Fluency Association, a 2007 Outstanding Contribution Award from the International Stuttering Association, the 2008 ASHA Distinguished Contributor Award, and in 2009 was named to the National Stuttering Association's Hall of Fame

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2012.

Learning a New Motor Skill

by Judy Kuster
from Minnesota, USA

Throughout life we are challenged to learn many new motor skills - walking, riding a bike, ice-skating, playing the piano, learning to drive . . . . In a workshop I attended, John Ahlbach (former director of the National Stuttering Project and FRIENDS) explained many of the advantages of teaching kids who stutter a new motor skill - juggling (handout online, Ahlbach, 1997b) and learning juggling yourself! (Ahlbach 1997a) states, "Consider these results:

Think about it. When was the last time any of your young clients ran out into the school yard after one of your sessions and shouted to his or her friends: "Guess what I did with the speech teacher today!" Isn't it worth a try?"

In the workshop, Alhbach described and demonstrated how to juggle (it looked so easy!) and handed each of us three yellow tennis balls that were soon bouncing all around the room! I quickly discovered how difficult it was for me to learn this new motor skill, but I gained some interesting insights trying. The next fall, I challenged the graduate students in my course on fluency disorders to learn how to juggle, and then apply what they learned about themselves and perhaps about their future clients who stutter.

Comments by several insightful students are summarized below.

Joseph Donaher (2000) wrote a paper, "Stuggling and Juttering" for a past online conference that contains additional valuable insight on using juggling "as a metaphor for stuttering at all levels of the therapeutic process."

Of course, it is very important to remember that learning a new motor skill is only a PART of therapy for stuttering. But my students still learned a lot from this assignment that could not only be given to university students in their course on stuttering, but also to family members, teachers, and classmates of children who stutter to give them some understanding of the potential challenges of learning a new motor skill.

  • Ahlbach, John (1997a) A message to Speech-Language Pathologists working in the Schools (http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/TherapyWWW/ahlbachslp.html)
  • Ahlbach, John (1997b) Juggling . . . and What It Can Do For You (http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/kids/moretome/juggling.html)
  • Donaher, Joseph, (2000) Stuggling and Juttering, ISAD online conference paper (http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/ISAD3/papers/donaher.html)

    You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the authors before October 22, 2012.

    SUBMITTED: July 16, 2012
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