Here's what I do for fluency kids. After we've discussed fluency (and yes, I use the word stuttering if the student does), relaxing the "speech helpers" (lips, vocal folds, etc.), "stretched speech, and the idea that dysfluency "comes and goes" (you'll be more fluent at different times); we make a "fluency meter". It's a meter that the student can color in each step from bottom to top. It's a good way to quickly review and let the student decide on a given day where he wants to start:
I suppose the nice thing about a "meter" is that it allows the student to see his progress and encourages small steps.
There are several therapy ideas for fluency on the Stuttering Home Page.
By Carolyn Kolpin
El Paso Independent School District
Many times as a Person Who Stutters (P. W.S.) is growing up they encounter insensitiveness in others toward stuttering. This exercise is meant as a way of handling teasing. Sometimes if we have a plan of action when a situation arises, that will ease the pain we feel. This is a very important issue - one of the biggest. It deserves role play time at home as well as in therapy.
It is important to realize that only your thoughts can upset you, but if you can learn to think more rationally, your self esteem won't be at the mercy of others. You know..."Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." We need to help the children develop a different cognitive set.
Here we go! (I always switch steps one and two.)
Step 1: Empathy. When someone is criticizing you or attacking you, his motives may be to help you or to hurt you. Start asking questions. Ask for more and more specific information. One might ask these questions, "What about stuttering bothers you?" or "It bothers you that I am different?", "What about that bothers you?" The critic may give up at this point.
Step 2: Disarming the critic. If someone is shooting at you, you have three choices. You can shoot back - this leads to warfare; you can run away - this leads to humiliation; or you can stay put and disarm your opponent - this leads to high self-esteem. This is done by finding some point on which to agree with the opponent. In this case, a forthright, "I stutter", or "You're right, I stutter" is wonderful. Critics will usually give up here.
Step 3: Feedback and negotiation. Here you explain your position and emotions tactfully and assertively and negotiate any real differences. "I understand, you would be more comfortable with me if I didn't stutter. I'm working on it. I won't always stutter, I am in therapy." You may have to repeat this last step if the critic won't give it up.
You will need to make up your own situation, but a scenario might go like this:
Do you have trouble remembering all the things your Speech Teacher tells you to do?
Or you might have a red bead that reminds you of your teacher, who wears a lot of red. When you see it you could remember that your Speech Teacher is going to ask you if you're answering questions in class.
Or you might have a blue bead that reminds you of a warm, relaxing bath. When you touch it you can do all the things your Speech Teacher told you to do to relax. You might even put on a bead that is a color you don't like. It could remind you of the people who tease you sometime. When you look at it you could remember all the cold things your Speech Teacher told you to say back to them.
But what is really fun is making up your own bracelet - thinking of your own colors and what they mean to you. You don't even have to tell anyone else what they mean - not even your Speech Teacher. It can be a secret that only you know - some really neat thing you have found helps your speech!
Amy Johnson of Gates Mills, Ohio, sent us a copy of an article in the August, 1991 'TEEN Magazine. The article, entitled "Stars Are People Too" points out that even famous stars have problems feeling good about themselves all the time. They give examples of stars who are "shy", "chubby", "a tomboy" etc. They offer the following information about Bruce Willis:
And then there's super-confident Bruce Willis. Mr. Die Hard was once Mr. Stutterer. Yep, he was an awkward teenager who stuttered. But through his acting, he outgrew it. A pal of Bruce's once spoke out about his buddy: "It was like the ugly duckling. Bruce transformed into this handsome, well-built, quick-witted person almost miraculously,î he recalls.
The thing that concerns Amy is the fact that these writers have left the impression that people who stutter are "awkward", lack confidence, and are the opposite of "handsome, well-built, and quick-witted." We feel sure they did not intend to imply this, but stereotypes are dangerous mainly because they lead people to believe something without thinking about it.
So, Amy would like to suggest the following activities for a Fluency Class: 1) Think of ways that we can show people that we don't buy this stereotype about people who stutter!! 2) Write a letter to the editors of 'TEEN Magazine, and give them some straight information about stuttering. Their address is: 'TEEN Magazine, PO Box 3341, Hollywood, CA 90028.
Reprinted from the free newsletter to parents of children who stutter, which Ms. Butler provides in Pittsburgh. PA area
The goal of speech therapy is change. Parents often begin therapy under the assumption that the Speech Pathologist can do something to change the way a child talks. Alas, they discover the Speech Pathologist is merely a guide.
One critical change that promotes fluency is waiting; specifically, waiting for a speaker to finish talking before chiming in. It seems to be accepted practice for "normal speakers" of any age to interrupt one another in conversation. My impression is that rapid responses and interruptions can reflect enthusiasm and engagement between adults. For children, interruptions seem to establish dominance and are useful in intense competition for adult attention.
"The Effects of Structured Turn-Taking on Disfluencies: A Case Study" was recently published in the October 1994 issue of Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in the Schools. In this paper, the authors describe how one set of parents changed the way their family conversations took place around the dinner table. Each child raised a block in the air when he wanted a turn to talk. The parents praised each child for waiting ("Good job waiting"), and discouraged interruptions (No, it's not your turn"). Using this method, stuttering-type disfluencies decreased.
"The use of turn-taking may have resulted in a reduction in the threat of interruption, or an increase in assurance that others were listening to the content of the subject's speech... Although the conditions that promote fluency may be highly individualistic, the results of this study would tend to support the advice given to parents to reduce communication stress on their child."
Structuring dinner time conversation is a change that parents can make to help their child speak more easily. Because it is a change, it will feel different and take practice. "Put the emphasis on everyone having an opportunity to talk rather than on one child's speech difficulty" and everyone at the table will benefit.