Does your child struggle with a stuttering disorder or is he/she currently receiving fluency therapy services?
Remember that carryover of strategies at home goes directly hand in hand with your child’s progress! So in this article, you will find some tips on helping your child’s stuttering difficulties in his/her natural home environment.
Since speech therapy services are usually given between 2-3 times a week, it is crucial that you are working on these strategies at home as well. Carrying over strategies is essential for helping your child generalize to their natural environment and, ultimately, progress and reach his or her therapeutic goals!
1. SLOW, EASY, SMOOTH SPEECH
What is slow, easy, smooth speech? Exactly what it sounds like!
Teach your child to speak at a slower rate, with easy onsets (no hard stops or contacts), and smoothly (eliminate as many “bumps” as possible).
It is very important that your child understands the difference between slow, easy, smooth speech, and fast, hard, bumpy speech. If they understand how to identify and even “model” the differences, they will be much more aware of their speech and how to use the correct model.
Start by modeling the different types of speech and having your child identify the correct type of speech you’re using. Then, you can quiz your child by having them model each type as well, using different vocabulary words.
Once they have mastered this, you can practice using slow, easy, smooth speech during fun games, functional activities, and even designate 20 minutes a day of ONLY using slow, easy, smooth speech.
2. REDUCING SECONDARY BEHAVIORS
Secondary behaviors associated with stuttering include eye blinking, jaw jerking, and head or other involuntary movements that occur prior to, during, or following stuttering events. These behaviors are learned approaches that people often use to minimize the severity of each stuttering event.
Sometimes, this can add to the person’s embarrassment and overall fear of speaking. Older children and adults often develop additional secondary behaviors to hide stuttering.
There are several strategies you can use to practice reducing secondary behaviors. Our favorite – practice monologues with a “secondary behaviors mark-up sheet”.
The worksheet can look something like this:
Provide your child with a topic to talk about or an article to read. Ask them to try to relax, release all tension, and speak without using any secondary behaviors. Then, watch while they speak their monologue and mark using a pen, marker, or stamp on all spots where you observe secondary behaviors.
For example, if you see that your child twitches his/her fingers during the monologue, you will stamp that section on the body diagram.
Then, add the date to the top and repeat this activity week to week to see the difference in secondary behaviors! Ask your child to visualize their improvement and provide encouragement. From week to week, compare the number of stamps on the body diagram or even make a game out of it!
3. DEALING WITH EMOTIONS: SELF-RATING SPEECH
The key to progress with fluency disorders is to help your child develop self-awareness. You can have your child participate in games and fun activities that include “high-pressure” environments, such as:
- A family debate about an assigned topic.
- Selling/promoting a random household object (such as toilet paper) and trying to convince someone to buy it under a time constraint. You can set a timer on your phone for 60 seconds.
- Playing a fun game that involves plenty of conversations and talking, such as two truths and a lie.
Then, you can have your child rate his or her own speech after, to self-reflect on how “smooth” their speech was and why!
- Use increased pause time and reduced time pressure. Wait a few seconds while turn-taking in conversations with your child to allow them to finish their idea. Never interrupt them.
- Use strategic words to reduce pressure during communication. Ask fewer questions. Use words such as “maybe”, “I bet”, “I wonder”, “It sounds like”.
- Rephrasing while modeling slow, easy, smooth speech. For example, if your child says “I want to have a cookie” with bumpy speech, you can respond with “Oh, you want to have a cookie!” while modeling slow, easy, smooth speech.
Now you have some of the simple tools to help your child carryover the skills they’ve learned in speech therapy to the home setting! Remember, maintaining these skills and practicing as much as possible will help your child’s progress significantly. Be patient with your child and be as encouraging as possible to ensure that your child is building his or her confidence. Happy practicing!
If you feel like your child might have a stuttering problem, or can’t tell if your child’s bumpy speech is a normal developmental disfluency or a real fluency disorder, The Stuttering Foundation has TONS of resources you can check out to learn the difference. Take a look at this article, and then observe your child’s speech to get an idea of what might be going on.
If you are still unsure, consult one of our highly trained speech therapists and get your child evaluated! Call us at 786-206-4151 to get started with onboarding and scheduling your stuttering evaluation!