Most of us who stutter do not need to be reminded that our speech is tied closely to how others think of us. Speech is the most important means of communicating our emotions, needs, and hopes to our listeners. Much of our opinion of others is determined by our reactions to what and how they are talking. A person who talks as if he/she knows more than others may turn us off. On the other hand, we find it enjoyable to talk with someone who has a friendly, relaxed, and sincere manner of speaking.
Unfortunately, those of us who stutter find our speech frequently gets in the way of this important means of interacting with others. Stuttering can make it difficult for us to demonstrate the exact form or manner of expression we desire in letting others know how we really feel.
So even though many of us have learned over the years to fear speaking and to use all sorts of techniques to avoid talking, we recognize the advantages of gaining control over our stuttering. There are many things we can do to insure that stuttering does not prevent us from achieving what we want out of life. One way to gain control over our stuttering is through speech therapy. And one important key to getting the right kind of therapy is to find a speech-language pathologist who understands the problems faced by people who stutter, and who is experienced in working with those who stutter. But how do we go about finding the right speech-language pathologist? Speech-language pathologists are not equal in their knowledge and understanding of stuttering and its treatment. There are many different speech-language disorders and most clinicians tend to be better with some than others. Some find it easier to work with young children whose language is delayed. Some specialize in speech-language problems associated with brain damage. A few speech-language pathologists have devoted more of their practice to stuttering. Some have been more successful than others in helping their clients improve their fluency and their confidence in speaking. So what are some of the keys to look for in selecting a speech-language pathologist to help us with our stuttering?
Nothing is more common in stuttering therapy than for the person involved to fall into the trap of believing that the increased fluency gained in the early stages of therapy (or after an intensive stuttering program) will last without their continuing to work hard at it.
On the other hand, no matter how comfortable you might become with the stuttering itself, that will not automatically reflect in increased fluency unless you also have a strategy for speaking in a way that is more compatible with fluent speech and have practiced it with great discipline.
In short, as one NSP member described it, your speech-language pathologist is a coach. He or she cannot do the work for you, but can be instrumental in the success you have in achieving your goals by providing guidance, support, motivation, and friendship.
From Hugo Gregory, Ph.D. Northwestern University
The decision about whom to go to for stuttering therapy is a very important one in terms of a person's time, financial resources, and future plans. Here are some questions that a person who stutters should consider in selecting a prospective clinician.
Because the client-clinician relationship is the single most important factor in successful therapy for individuals experiencing the chronic stuttering syndrome, choosing the right clinician us critical to success in therapy.
How can you tell if you've found the right one? From the very beginning of therapy you should feel your clinician is more interested in you as a person than in your stuttering as a clinical problem. If your clinician focuses exclusively on your disfluencies and does not explore with you how those disfluencies affect your whole life, you may have found yourself a technician and what you need is a clinician.
If, from the very start, you don't like and respect your clinician, find another one. You need and deserve a clinician with whom you feel comfortable and with whom you can be open and honest about how you feel, think, and behave. If from the very first time you meet, your clinician doesn't make you feel good about being in therapy, find another.
I am not saying everything should be sweetness and light in therapy. In fact, if it is, probably nothing is happening. But I am saying your clinician should make you feel good about being there.
Research reveals that effective clinicians:
We would be very happy to assist you in choosing the right program or speech pathologist for you. We can most likely refer you to one near your home.
If you are interested in intensive (residential) programs, we have a list of them here. They are listed in alphabetical order. Contact the programs in which you are interested for information, and then call the NSP office at 1-800-364-1677 in San Francisco and we will share with you what we know about each program, and try to help you decide which one best meets your needs.
Computer Aided Fluency Establishment Training CAFET and Cafet for Kids: Contact Martha Goebel, Annandale Fluency Clinic, 4208 Evergreen Ln. #213, Annandale, VA 22003 (703-941-8903). CAFET is offered in Calgary, Alberta, and in Maryland as well. Contact Annandale for addresses.
The Hollins Communication Research Institute (formerly the Precision Fluency Shaping Program), P.O. Box 9737, Roanoke, VA 24020 (703-362- 6528).Hollin's Precision Fluency Shaping
Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research: 3rd floor, 8220 114 st, Edmonton, Alberta. T6G 2P4 (403-492-2619). Has year-round as well as summer programs for all ages.
Northwestern University Speech and Language Clinic: Contact: Northwestern Univer., Dept. of Communication Sci., 2299 Sheridan Rd., Evanston, IL 60208 (708-328-1460).
The Precision Fluency Shaping Program: Contact Ross Barrett, P.O. Box 1980, 855 W. Brambleton Ave., Norfolk, VA 23510 (804-446-5938); or Andriana DiGrande, New England Rehabilitation Hosp., Woburn, MA 01801 (617-935-5050 Ext. 376).
San Francisco State University Center for Fluency Development: Contact Dr. Stanley Goldberg, San Francisco State University, Communicative Disorders, 1600 Holloway Ave., S.F., CA 94132 (415-338-7654).
Total Immersion Fluency Training: Contact Catherine Otto, M.A., 27 West 20th St., Suite #1203, NYC, NY 10011 (212-355-7111).
Fluency Training Through Parent Involvement: Contact Dick Mallard, Ph.D. Communicative Disorders Program, Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, TX 78666-4616 (512-245-2344). (Program is in summer and for young people, their parents, and speech pathologists.)
Harold B. Starbuck Memorial Fluency Enhancing Clinics, Geneseo, N.Y. They have a summer program for children and adults. Contact: Kathleen R. Jones, SUNY Geneseo, Dept. of Speech Pathology, Sturges Hall, Geneseo, NY 14454 (716-245-5328).
Speech Camp for Children Who Stutter: Contact Sally Bowman, Ph.D., Otolaryngology Dept., Riley Hosp., A-56, 702 Barnhill Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46223 (317-274-8868).
Successful Stuttering Management Program: Contact Dr. Dorvan Breitenfeldt, Eastern Washington University, Speech Clinic, Cheney, WA 99004 (509-359-2301). They have a three-week summer workshop and a manual of their program you can buy.
Summer Remedial Clinic, Central Michigan University: Contact Suzanne S. Coughlin, Moore Hall, 444, CMU, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859 (517-774-3472). For children and young adults.
Stuttering Resource Foundation: Contact Ellin Rind, 123 Oxford Rd., New Rochelle, NY 10804 (800-232-4773) They have a referral network.
Speak Easy of Canada: Contact Mike Hughes, 95 Evergreen, St. John, N.B. E2N 1H4 (506-696-6799).
National Stuttering Project
5100 East La Palma Ave.
Anaheim Hills, CA