Practice Sheet – Fluency Tools
Dear Adults and Parents:
I want to first thank you for either enrolling in or bringing your child to my office for fluency therapy. It is a wonderful gift you are giving them or yourselves.
As most of you know, I stuttered severely up until 5 years ago. I had taken many fluency courses before and my fluency improved, but not enough to my satisfaction. This is why I am going to tell you that practice is vital, whether you or your child has a speech session that week or not. Consistency is vital for success. I can teach the tools to use to improve fluency, but I can’t do the home practice. They need your help, encouragement and wisdom.
At some point, everyone has to take the responsibility to do it themselves. This usually takes many months, if not years, depending upon their age and internal motivation.
Children need your guidance and support. They need to know it is just as important as school and sports. The suggestions and tools will seem easy to the family member who does not stutter. I can tell you first hand it is one of the most challenging things to overcome in life. I failed many times before I succeeded due to unrealistic expectations of myself. Let me help you devise realistic goals. Parents-if you want to talk to me privately about your child, please either call or set up a separate session.
Some things to remember:
- Talking fluently does not mean strategies are being used. Do not be fooled by fluency. Stuttering eventually increases if strategies are not used in conversational speech. It is also typically increases during holidays, during stressful work events and in anticipation of the beginning of school.
- It is better to praise the times that tools are being used rather than constantly remind kids to use easy onsets, etc. What if they don’t use these tools? Sit down and talk with them about why they are not using the tools and how you can help them overcome difficult speaking situations. Realistic goals have to be set. Is it realistic to ask the child to be fluent in every speaking situation? No, but maybe you can start out in isolated situations. Sometimes a hierarchy has to be written down to work on easier situations first.
- It is challenging and time consuming to practice. Try and make it more interesting. Play games with fluency tools (ex: trivial pursuit, uno, twenty questions). It has to be a priority as school, work, religion and sports are. Adults and teens-please join my facebook page-Long Island Stuttering Connection to connect with others who stutter.
- Praise accomplishments, ex: raising their hand in class, ordering at a restaurant. This is important to improving self esteem. We all respond better to praise. Adults-try and keep a journal and write down all positive accomplishments in your life. Be good to yourself.
- Make practice part of your day. Schedule it in. You can do it after breakfast or while playing a game at night. It must be done!!!
- Imagine if I told fluent speakers to walk around stuttering all day, wouldn’t it be difficult and require intense concentration? Fluency involves this as well.
- Please be realistic. Since there is no cure for stuttering, it is important to accept stuttering as well and not beat yourself up if you stutter. However, the more one practices, the more fluent and confident they will become as effective communicators. It is only then that one can excel at fluency. Children often want to be fluent and practice for their parents. However, the responsibility has to start with them. Bring them to my practice groups. I felt alone as a child. The more one feels accepted, the more they will want to excel for themselves. There is usually a fear of sounding different, which is understandable and has to be explored. It is easier to start using fluency tools with others who stutter first before using it in the outside world. It is detrimental to jump into the pool too fast so to speak. We have to first swim with a lifeguard (me).
* “Lila started kindergarten this month. We wanted to let you know that she was screened by her school speech therapist this week. When we told the speech therapist that Lila had received services for stuttering, she said she would have never known. Lila does not stutter anymore and we can’t thank you enough.” (Kelli and Matt, parents of Lila)