The project "Intervention Toward Stuttering in Children" was carried out in 1998-1999 by The Association for Stutterers in Denmark with the objective of preventing children from growing up with stuttering becoming a handicap.
Stuttering therapy in Denmark is almost exclusively run by the public sector, private practices treating stuttering are virtually non-existing. The Institutes of Speech and Hearing are based in the county administrations are responsible for the Treatment of adults (above 18 years af age) who stutter. The municipally based Pedagogical-Psychological Advice Offices, often organized as a part of the municipal school administrations, are responsible for the treatment of young children and school age children up to about 18 years af age. Severe cases af stuttering in children may be referred to the Institute of Speech and Hearing.
Denmark, twice the size of New Jersey, and with a five-million population is divided into 14 county administrations and 273 municipal administrations, some of the municipalities having quite small populations and hence very few school age stutterers, which in these small communities entails very little therapist training in the field of stuttering inevitably, under such circumstances, leading to deteriorating therapist skills. But even in comparatively large municipalities the work with stuttering is often rather instable and vulnerable, very often solely depending on enthusiastic SLP-individuals.
Rationale for implementing the project is the dissatisfaction on the present state expressed as well by therapists as by parents. The parents do neither feel the needs of their kids nor their own needs being met. And the therapists are dissatisfied with their non-sufficient basic training in stuttering, leaving many "afraid" of working with stuttering school kids, and with their averall working conditions being overloaded with working on a very broad range of issues in the speech-language-hearing fields. Further, the service level is very very different from one setting to another, which is really precarious, since you as a cosumer are obliged to exclusively receiving the service offered in your own municipality. You can't seek out services elsewhere.
The present project covered two counties comprising 50 municipalities. The objective of the project was broken down into four goals: 1. "Capturing" stuttering in young children as early as possible. 2. Establishing parent groups. 3. Through continuing education establishing a more uniform service level among municipalities. 4. Stuttering be regarded with the same seriousness as other disabilities.
One of the activities of the project was arranging a series of meetings with audiences consisting of therapists and parents. The speech therapists were approached and encouraged to come up with suggestions for enhancing their professional competence in the treatment of stuttering. The parents were urged to form parent groups.
Some few and tentative results
The project is still running, and the results therefore still are only few and at a preliminary stage. One interesting result in the gathering af suggestions showed to be the therapists' focusing on the needs of school age children. For about a decade the intervention toward young children has been emphasized, the speech therapists doing a great job in the prevention of stuttering. However, the therapists reported, some kids are stuttering, although seemingly generally not as severe as in past times, when entering school. And these school kids the therapists felt did not receive sufficient professional attention. All in all we have established a good co-operational atmosphere with speech therapists creating interesting working relationships.
The formation of parent groups has been a rather difficult task. Hence, we have contemplated various methods of how to locate and inviting the parents "out there" and motivating them entering into a parent group.
The full results will be reported at the 3rd IFA Congress on Fluency Disorders which is to be held August 7-11, 2000 in Denmark.