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Helping Children Develop Healthy AttitudesToward Stuttering J. Scott Yaruss, Ph.D. Stuttering Centerof Western Pennsylvania University of Pittsburgh
Wait a minute!!! What do you mean by,“Healthy AttitudesToward Stuttering” ?!?
Attitude Matters • Stuttering can have a profound impact on children’s ability to succeed in life • But…it doesn’t have to be this way! • As NSP parents, you know that the most successful adult speakers are those who have been able to accept their stuttering • Like stuttering, the process of developing healthy attitudes can begin in early childhood
It is not stutteringthat holds people back... It is how people reactto their stuttering
Feelings about Stuttering • It is normal for children to have emotions and feelings about their stuttering • It is also normal for you to have emotions about feelings about your child’s stuttering Children don’t always understand their feelings…you can help!
The Traditional Role of Parents • In speech therapy, parents typically receive lots of advice about how to help children speak more fluently • “Slow down your own speech” • “Pause before speaking” • “Shorten and simply your sentences” • “Don’t interrupt the child” • “Don’t tell the child to ‘slow down’”
Helping children speakmore fluently is good... …but it’s not enough!!!
Parents Can Also Help Children... • Understand what they are doing when they stutter and how to change it • Learn how to react to stuttering and how to deal with other people’s reactions • Interpret what it means to have a speech disorder and (for older children) accept it • Feel acceptance regardless of their speech
Parents Can…WHAT?!? • Many parents have their own issues and concerns about stuttering, making it difficult to react supportively • Plus, parents are consistently told not to react to their children’s stuttering… • “Do nothing at any time, by word or deed or posture or facial expression, that would serve to call attention to interruptions in (your child's) speech. • (Johnson, 1962)
The Parent’s Dilemma • Watching children stutter is hard! • It is nearly impossible to watch our children struggle with any difficulty without trying to do something--anything--to help them • So...the advice to “just ignore it” is in direct conflict with our parental instincts • The advice is wrong...our instincts are right!
Is It Really Okayto Talk about Stuttering? • In a word…YES! • “There are no published reports of a relationship between discussing...stuttering and sustained increases in the frequency or severity of stuttering” • --Zebrowski & Schum (1993) • Children who stutter do not respond adversely when parents provide feedback about their speech fluency. • --Lincoln & Onslow (1997)
Keeping Talking in Perspective • Talking is just another motor skillyoung children need to develop • It is perfectly normal for young childrento make mistakes when learning to talk • Children make mistakes when learning every other motor behavior and we accept it without concern • For older children who stutter, we need to recognize that stuttering is normal for them
Why Talk about Stuttering? I felt isolated and frustrated…like stuttering was something to be ashamed of This problem is so awful that my parents can'tbear to talk... about it. Some quotesfrom adultswho stutter --Rustin & Cook (1995)
Why Talk about Stuttering? • Break the “Conspiracy of Silence”(Starkweather & Givens-Ackerman, 1997) • Help children understand stuttering • Help children feel more comfortable about their speaking abilities • Help children learn how to react to stuttering • Help to normalize stuttering
Okay, So…What Should We Say? (It depends…)