Stuttering and Down Syndrome

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A friend with Down's syndrome and stuttering

From: Hannah WVU
Date: 09 Oct 2008
Time: 18:28:06 -0500
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Judith: I am a first year graduate student in speech-language pathology. Based on my activities outside of school, I realize I have so many questions for you. You, your article, and your references came at the most perfect time. For the last year and a half, I have been friends with a young woman (we will name her Mandy) who just turned eighteen and has Down’s syndrome. When I met Mandy, she was sixteen. She is the middle child with an older brother and sister and young brother and sister. Mandy’s mother explained to me that until around Junior High School, Mandy was using fairly long sentences (though not very complex) without any trouble at all. She mentioned that the transformation (as she calls it) into stuttering was almost overnight after an incident that the mother did not know about but suspected something with the school bus. Since then, Mandy’s stutter has gradually gotten worse. She no longer can speak more than two to three word sentences and struggles on nearly every spoken word. Mandy has speech therapy in school, but I am unaware as to how much. During the summer is when I see Mandy the most (five days a week for at least eight hours a day). Mandy primarily has long prolongations and blocks (rarely repetitions); she demonstrates tongue protrusion, head nods, eye blinks, and other facial grimaces. Despite all these difficulties speaking, Mandy LOVES to talk to anyone, especially random people. She is not shy, always wants to answer the questions, and maintains eye contact with the listener. The only time I have recognized her avoidance to speaking, was once when I bluntly asked her what activities she worked on in therapy. Mandy quickly changed the subject. According to your paper, it seems as though most of your case load dealt with young adults with Down’s syndrome having an avoidance to speaking and were shy with little eye contact. I realize that being a student I am not prepared to provide Mandy with any formal therapy, but do you have any suggestions as to exercises she and I could work on while we are together to help her become more fluent? Should I ever openly discuss her stuttering with her, or just provide her with support? Any suggestions or advice would be great! Thanks for the great resource – Hannah G.

Last changed: 10/09/08