Dear Abby Letters: Talking Openly About Stuttering

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Re: Dear Abby activities

From: Peter Reitzes
Date: 04 Oct 2006
Time: 07:40:23 -0500
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Heidi, thanks for the great question. When students make suggestions that are not particularly productive for managing stuttering, I make sure and honor their feelings and ideas. Rather than tell a student that their idea, in the long term, is counterproductive, I attempt help students consider their options. If a student suggests that a good way to manage stuttering is by having someone else order his or her drink at the movies, I will honor this in ways such as saying, “I see that you found a clever way to get out of stuttering” or asking, “That is really interesting, tell me more about how you set that up.” A big part of my job is helping and guiding students to see that other, more productive strategies are available. Sometimes I will ask my student or students to think of three, four, or five ways to help another child order drinks at the movies. This gets them thinking about other options. I may ask questions (depending on the situation) such as, “How does it feel when others talk for you?” and “What advice can you give a student who wants to do his or her own ordering?” We may then role-play ordering food and drinks at the movies using several different options. During the role-playing situation I will take a turn playing the part of the child who stutters and ask, “I want to speak for myself. What speech tool can I use to help me order my own drink?” If appropriate, I mention to students that sometimes it is okay to ask mom or dad to order for them. For example, if a student is having a real difficult period with his or her stuttering, I like to work out a situation in which the student can tell mom or dad that he would like some help ordering. While I obviously like my students to talk for themselves, I also recognize that for some students, this is a good first step for taking responsibility for stuttering.

Last changed: 10/23/06