Does your child often block or repeat while talking? Is your child between the ages of 18 months and 6 years? Has s/he been doing it for over 8 weeks? Then, your child may have childhood onset fluency disorder or stuttering.
Adults may stutter too. Some adults stutter since their childhood and are said to have developmental stuttering. Others may develop stuttering suddenly, which experts refer to as acquired stuttering.
What Do You Do If You Notice Your Loved One Stuttering?
Speech therapy is one of the most effective stuttering treatments that is ideal for children and adults.
The frequency of sessions, types of exercises and duration of speech therapy will depend on the severity of stuttering.
Beginning Speech Therapy
Case studies show that speech therapy is most effective for children up to the age of 7. Stuttering treatment for older kids works as well. However, it may take longer and the child may require more frequent sessions with the SLP.
Therefore, early intervention is of utmost importance for childhood-onset or developmental stuttering.
It may be difficult for a parent or a doctor (pediatrician) to tell the difference between normal disfluency in children and childhood onset fluency disorder.
SLPs are responsible for the screening, assessment and intervention of communication disorders in all ages. However, the role of an SLP is most crucial in the screening and detection of communication disorders in toddlers and children.
How Can A SLP Help You And Your Child?
An SLP looks after the holistic development and wellbeing of the child besides treating their stuttering.
SLP services adhere to 4 basic guidelines that aid in the effective and early interventions for children.
SLPs Provide Family-Centered and Culturally Responsive Services
The SLP aims to provide early and effective intervention that addresses the family’s concern regarding the child’s needs and learning ability. An experienced SLP is able to individualize his/her service for the family according to their culture, unique situation, priorities, resources and preferences.
It is important to note that the entire family, and not the individual child, is the recipient of the SLP’s services. Family-centered services offer the family members a more active role in planning, implementing and decision making during stuttering treatment.
These are all integral components of indirect therapy for toddlers and preschoolers, who may benefit from the Lidcombe program.
An SLP Provides Services That Are Developmentally Supportive
Simply treating stuttering isn’t the ultimate goal of any stuttering treatment plan. Stuttering may result in a reduction of self-esteem and confidence in a child.
It is the responsibility of the SLP to take the emotions associated with stuttering into consideration before they proceed with treatment.
The SLP proceeds with the hypothesis that the acquisition of communication skills occurs based on a child’s social and cultural framework. The early intervention practices include active exploration of experiences, cognitive abilities, interests, interactive participation appropriate for the child’s age and the family’s concerns.
The optimal early intervention practices for childhood-onset fluency disorder is provided in a natural setup (such as the child’s home). It also offers realistic learning experiences that the child can apply during their daily interactions.
SLPs Provide Comprehensive and Coordinated Services
SLPs may act as the first point of contact for families who may need expert interventions for their children’s speech.
In the case of developmental stuttering, SLPs often provide the complete guidance necessary for primary intervention and maintenance therapy.
However, if the SLP deems that your child may have auditory disabilities, anomalies in behavior or congenital conditions that imply developmental delay, he/she may refer you to the necessary medical expert.
SLPs Provide Services That Meet the Unique Needs of a Child and Their Family
An SLP has the qualification, training and experience to provide tailored services that meet the unique needs of the child and the family in need.
SLPs provide uniquely personalized services to their clients for the following –
Not all communication disorders and fluency disorders can be prevented. However, an early intervention may mitigate the risks on the child’s development.
SLPs can even help a few children, who are predisposed to stuttering (genetics and family history), reduce the symptoms of their stuttering. SLPs can promote the positive communication interactions between the toddlers and their caregivers as a part of primary prevention.
As a part of secondary prevention, they can also mitigate the negative emotional effects of stuttering in children. Finally, they can address an existing or long-term stuttering problem by providing intervention services to prevent future complications as a part of tertiary prevention.
Screening and Assessment
An SLP can screen for the communication needs of a toddler or child. They are responsible for the identification of children who are at risk for stuttering.
Based on their observation, a team of speech-language experts and medical professionals can evaluate and assess what intervention program a child may require.
Planning and Implementing Therapy Plans
When a child is at risk and the SLP tailors a stuttering treatment program that suits the needs of the child and the family, the SLP coordinates with other members of the team including audiologists, special educators, and home trainers to provide services and support.
Consultation With and Education of Family Members
One of the crucial responsibilities of the SLP is to inform and educate the family members about their child’s speech problem. This includes the causes of stuttering, potential treatment options, stuttering treatment goals and what to expect at the end of speech therapy.
In the cases of stuttering in preschool-aged children, the SLP assumes an indirect or consultant role only. He/she communicates with only the parents and guides them to modify their communication with the child. He/she takes feedback on the progress of the child’s speech.
Providing Up-To-Date Information
Research on stuttering is still continuing. Several new factors, and models for stuttering treatment are coming to light.
The SLP always informs the family of the advancement in research on stuttering and their options.
The SLP has the best interest of the family and child in their mind, and they inform the families regarding the new treatment methods that may suit the unique needs of their child.
Wrapping It Up
Speech-language pathologists aim to prevent, evaluate, assess, reduce, diagnose and treat speech disorders including stuttering. However, you can expect much more than traditional speech therapy or stuttering exercises from SLPs once you step into their office.
SLPs not only treat toddlers and children, but they also address speech issues, social communication, cognitive communication and language disorders in teenagers and adults.