This is a guest blog post by Rachel at SLP Now, talking about how to teach stuttering modification and fluency strategies for school-age students during speech therapy sessions.
As a speech-language pathologist, you may be asking yourself, “Now that I’ve written these awesome fluency goals, how do I teach stuttering and fluency strategies to my speech student?”
In this blog post, we are going to dive into what it can look like when teaching fluency strategies during your speech therapy sessions.
How Can Speech Language Pathologists Help a Student Who Stutters?
As SLPs, we can play an important role in the life of our students who stutter. According to ASHA, there are several indicators of positive change for those who receive speech therapy for their stutter. Some of those on the list include:
✓ Increased self-confidence
✓ More positive identity and congruence
✓ Advocating for oneself
✓ Reporting decreased anxiety while communicating
✓ Increased social communication participation (Manning & DiLollo, 2018).
From this list alone, you can see the critical role you play as an SLP working with your students who stutter.
How to Teach Stuttering Modification and Fluency Strategies to Students Who Stutter
Here are 3 steps you can follow when teaching a fluency technique to your students.
1. Introduce the Fluency Technique
Before starting a new fluency modification technique, you’ll want to start by explaining what it is, and how it will help them.
For example, if you decide to teach the reduced rate technique, you can explain that this is a technique that has them slow down their speech, which will give them/their brain more time to slow down and figure out what they want to say, and how they’re going to say it.
2. Provide Demonstrations of the Fluency Technique
To provide an example of the fluency technique, you can verbally explain how the technique works. After, you can provide examples of you or someone else (SLP Stephen is always an amazing resource) actually implementing the strategy.
If you have an SLP Now Membership, handouts and videos of Stephen Groner explaining different fluency techniques are included! They are incredible resources to have.
3. Give Your Student a Safe Place to Practice New Fluency Techniques
I don’t know about you, but for me, trying new things can be hard and takes a lot of vulnerability.
This can be the same for our speech students who may be struggling with their confidence due to stuttering. That is why it is so, so important to provide our students who stutter a place where they can express themselves freely without feeling any of the judgment they might feel in other areas of their lives.
Speech Fluency Techniques and Stuttering Modification Strategies for Speech Language Pathologists
There is no one-size-fits-all fluency strategy, so it is important to see which fluency techniques your speech student prefers and which fluency techniques helps their fluency the most.
Stephen Groner, aka SLP Stephen, does an amazing job explaining fluency techniques in videos he created, and provides demonstrations for each technique.
What Does Success Look Like When Teaching Stuttering Modification and Fluency Strategies?
As speech-language pathologists, we want to see our speech students who stutter succeed. But what does “success” look like? Below are a list of some of the indicators found that show our fluency students are making progress (T.K. Anderson & Falsenfeld, 2003; Plexico et al. 2005).
👏 More open and willing to disclose and talk about their stuttering
👏 Experiences reduced impact from stuttering
👏 Generalizes attitudes, beliefs and behaviors across contexts
👏 Reports feeling more authentic and enjoying social conversations
👏 Reports effectively modulating anxiety
Like I mentioned before, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to fluency therapy. However, we do want to see these positive outcomes for all of our speech fluency students.
For more information and materials on stuttering, head to SLP Now, where there are 20+ videos on fluency techniques and stuttering modification strategies, as well as handouts, activities, and more!
Stuttering Modification and Fluency Strategy Resources
Anderson, T. K., & Felsenfeld, S. (2003). A thematic analysis of late recovery from stuttering. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12(2), 243–253. https://doi.org/10.1044/1058-0360(2003/070)
Manning, W. H., & DiLollo, A. (2018). Clinical decision making in fluency disorders. Plural.
Plexico, L. W., Manning, W. H., & DiLollo, A. (2005). A phenomenological understanding of successful stuttering management. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 30(1), 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfludis.2004.12.001