SUMMER CAMPS FOR STUTTERING
By Jenna Mahaffey and Jen Novak
Common Therapy Techniques Used
-Individual therapy – occurs on a daily basis
-Group therapy – occurs on a daily basis
-In therapy at the camps, the goals are not so much focused on fluency and decreasing stuttering as they are on individual attitudes and feelings about stuttering. It is common for camps to deliver special Support targeted towards the child. At Daniel & Friends Camp Talkalot, for example, daily sessions are built around such themes as:
-Leadership for speech support sessions are almost always planned and led by a team of fluency specialists and supervised graduate-student clinicians. Speech sessions also include guests well acquainted with stuttering, offering insight from professional and life experience viewpoints.
Stuttering affects 3 million Americans, about 1% of the population. At some point in speech development, as many as 3-4% of children stutter, and fortunately many outgrow it. In one study done looking at the actual success of change in speech, patients from age 9 to 19 participated in a stuttering therapy summer-camp for children and adolescents. Participants were supposed to learn a more open handling of their stuttering and acquire basics for a fluent speech. The therapy concept includes elements of a fluency shaping and a stuttering modification therapy. The evaluation was done with two assessments before, one assessment after therapy and one follow-up using videotaped speech situations and questionnaires for the participants and their parents. The stuttering frequency shows a reduction from 22.2 to 9.5 %. Follow-up results and all questionnaires also indicated clear improvements. Altogether, the Therapeutic Stuttering Summer-camp was able to reach its aims.
Success of Programs
Though there are statistics which can show that stuttering camps are successful, it can also be measured by how a participant feels after attending a camp. Most attendees entering these camps for the first time are scared, nervous, shy, and at times unwilling to try and better their speech due to embarrassment, etc. However, each camp looked at shows that all children end up leaving with a higher self-esteem. Being able to connect to other people with the same problem help the children feel more comfortable with speaking in social scenes. Another good thing to come out of the programs is the increased awareness and empathy a parent feels for their child. Many camps have informational meetings for parents to discuss any concerns or get any questions answered, and some even suggest parental involvement during the camp itself in order to help families come together while dealing with the tough issue of stuttering. Speech Camps provide the child with the chance to develop character, learn valuable life skills, make new friends, and discover new interests.
Shady Trails was a "Speech Improvement Camp of the University of Michigan."
In the summer of 1932, Mr. John M. Clancy started Camp Shady Trails for boys with speech problems. The purpose of Shady Trails Camp has been to present speech training and to provide situations in which boys can use what they are learning.
The camp provided an ideal plan for the care of the boys while away from home and for speech therapy services. Each camper is given an opportunity to learn new speech and social behavior patterns and to apply them in the dining room situation, in cabin living, and on the athletic field. The camping program went hand in hand with the speech therapy program to assure success.
Camp Talkalot is a 1-2 week residential camp in NY for children ages 7-15. The camping curriculum integrates all the fun of a real summer camp (arts, crafts, a low ropes course and climbing tower, even field trips to area attractions) with a specialized program exclusively for young people who stutter. The program proves to be emotionally beneficial due to twice daily workshop topics that cover various aspects of stuttering: "Handling Teasing", "New Ways To Relax", "Handling My Anger in Positive Ways", "Speech Therapy Is Worth The Effort", "I Have Great Value Regardless Of How I Speak", and "The Pitfall of Letting Stuttering Keep Me From What I'd Love To Do". Because most children who stutter have never met another child like them and often feel alone, isolated and shameful of exhibiting non-fluent speech, these sessions attempt to develop good communication skills through self-confidence as well as modifying the stutter itself. Staff includes certified SLP’s with fluency expertise, Speech Path college students, Adults and Teens who are successfully dealing with their own stuttering, as well as a full camp support staff.