Teen Stuttering

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by Lori Melnitsky, MA CCC-SLP

Don’t let stuttering stop you from achieving your goals.. It did not stop me.. Let’s strive for fluency and improve confidence:

Our approach is based on fluency shaping programs and includes improving confidence.  We also believe in desensitizing one to difficult situations.  Call for weekly or intensive options.   Why struggle when you can talk with ease?  We include parents in the carryover process.

Stuttering is characterized as a disruption in the normal flow of speech fluency.  A person who stutters might prolong sounds, repeat whole or parts of words or use filler words, such as um, like, uh.  Sometimes a person who stutters opens their mouth to say a word and nothing comes out.   They might also display secondary characteristics such as eye blinking or kicking their leg to force a word out.   Many people who stutter will substitute words, or say as little as possible to avoid talking.  Many students will often choose to say “I don’t know” in class rather than risk stuttering.  Let’s help them succeed. 

Stuttering is a communication disorder that affects over 3 million people in the United States. Its exact cause is unknown, but it is thought to be physiological in nature.  The good news is that many people have overcome the challenges of stuttering through speech therapy, hard work and persistence. Speech therapy can teach specific fluency tools and support groups can help overcome feelings of isolation. It takes continuous practice with specific drills to learn how to speak without tension. The teen years often produce increasing motivational factors that encourage teenagers to seek out improvement in fluency.  These include dating, participating in class, trying out for school plays and making new friends.

There are several important things family members can do while listening to their child’s dysfluent speech pattern.  It is important for parents and family members to listen to what their child says rather than how it is said, not interrupt, and not say “slow down” or “relax and take a deep breath”. Although this advice is given with good intention, it can actually exacerbate stuttering.  Also, if your child isn’t using the fluency tools taught to them, it might be due to feelings of embarrassment and fears of being perceived as different.  The Stuttering Foundation of America (www.stutteringhelp.org) and National Stuttering Association (www.westutter.org) are excellent online resources for teenagers and their families.

Parents need to realize that even though their child may not be “cured”, there is help available through speech therapy, practice groups and support groups.  It is however, important to seek out a therapist who specializes in stuttering treatment.  If your child has received speech therapy previously and did not appear to make progress, don’t despair.  Many people who eventually improved their fluency felt they were not initially helped in the past.  Why? It’s possible the therapist you saw did not specialize in stuttering therapy.  Also, there are different approaches to stuttering treatment and you may not have found the one that works best for you and your child.  Finding the appropriate therapist is often a difficult task.   Although the tools your child learns might appear simple to use, they are often quite difficult to apply in conversational speaking situations.

Truthfully, therapy is often stopped too quickly without adequate time allotted for maintenance.  It takes a skilled therapist to work with your child in transferring newly learned skills into everyday speaking situations.

Teenagers often become increasingly motivated to seek out speech therapy due to the realization that effective communication skills are needed to succeed in academic, work and social settings.  Realistically, it takes determination, motivation and continuous practice to improve fluency!!  It is vital to seek out a speech pathologist that specializes in stuttering treatment.

For more information, please contact Lori Melnitsky.  Lori is a speech language pathologist (SLP) who stuttered severely as a child and overcame communication obstacles to become a stuttering specilialist. She is the chapter leader of TWST (Teens who Stutter-National Stuttering Association) and founder of the LI Stuttering Connection (a practice group for people who stutter).  Lori is in private practice in Plainview, NY and treats children and adults who stutter as well as other speech and language disorders. She is Lidcombe Trained and PROMPT Certified.   

Lori can be contacted at 516-776-0184 or via e-mail: Lori@allislandspeech.com (www.allislandspeech.com)

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* “All Island Speech and Lori Melnitsky are definitely in the vanguard when it comes to offering direct-approach methods for treating disfluent speech – particularly in young children –  as evidenced in her work with our preschool-aged son who stutters. She was able to perform her magic through endless age-appropriate activities and games to keep him engaged both at home with us and in sessions at her office while delivering the Lidcombe Program, which has resulted in significant improvement in both our son’s speech fluency and clarity of speech. Lori definitely knows what she’s talking about and has a very caring and thoughtful way about her, backed by her years of experience as a speech therapist and as a parent herself, as well as by her own experiences as someone who overcame a severe speech disorder. If you are serious about treating speech disfluency no matter the age or degree, you could do no better than to choose All Island Speech. THANK YOU, LORI!!”(Parents of a 5 year old preschool child, NYC, 2018)

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* “I wanted to thank Lori for being such an amazing person and therapist for my daughter. Besides being fluent from the Lidcombe Program it changed my daughter’s whole personality. She is happy, confident, cheerful,sassy and a very talkative 4 year old. (Stacy, daughter age 4 Howard Beach, NY-February 2017)

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* “I was starting a job with a new airline and my speech started to deteriorate with the stress of training. I thought I was not going to be able to make it through the rigors of the training environment and initial flying experience in a new plane with new things that had to be said on demand. Lori helped me a great deal by getting me back to the fundamentals of speaking that I knew from therapy, but was not applying them properly. After five sessions with Lori, I was able to more comfortably continue with the training process and now I am progressing well with continued practice. Lori was great at getting me back on target.” (Matt, airline pilot, adult who stutters)

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* “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)

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* LIDCOMBE WORKS- “We took our daughter, Angelina to Lori for speech therapy for about a year. We are very happy with the results. Angelina started stuttering when she was approximately 2.5 years old and was becoming aware of her speech problem. On her worst days she could not say a word, which worried my wife and I tremendously. My wife Victoria found Lori’s information online and we visited Lori in Long Island (from NJ) and started the Lidcombe Program. Over the next year, Angelina’s stuttering rating dropped from 9 to 10 (very severe) to a virtually unnoticeable pauses in our daughter’s speech. My wife and I are very thankful to Lori for working with our daughter and helping her overcome stuttering.” (Steve and Victoria M, NJ-daughter Angelina, 4 years old now)

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* “I truly believe my son would not be talking in sentences today if it wasn’t for your help.” “Your understanding of language and processing made all the difference in the world. “(Linda, parent of an 11 year old autistic boy)

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* 12 year old girl- Dear Lori: Thank you so much helping me with my stuttering. You are an amazing speech therapist. Now I am in middle school. I am able to present , answer questionsand even read aloud. Other therapists did not help me like you did. You changed my life! If I know anyone that stutters in the future I will recommend you to them. I’m sure that you will change their lives. Thank you for your hard work. (Sam W, age 12-June 2011)

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* 6 year old-We are so glad we brought our son to you as he entered kindergarten. You helped him learn how to learn so many new words and improve his spelling. Thank you Lori (parent of a 6 year old with reading and writing issues)

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* “My son was 2 and non-verbal when he met Lori.
Prompt changed his life. He talks in sentences now. Thank you Lori!”

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