Speech Therapy 2.0

Let’s get personal. Yesterday, I met with 4 clients on three continents. Technology is amazing!
But the most invigorating moments aren’t generated by tech.

The great moments are more often the subtle ones, face to face, one on one.
I want to invite you in, to appreciate the subtlety of my day yesterday.


I met an 18 year old young man who is struggling with his speech. As a result, he is starting to avoid conversations, acting shy and worrying about his future employability.

I asked him, what was most helpful in our meeting today?
He said: "I thought no-one would understand. I thought it was just me."
He appreciated the understanding I afforded to him. And in our meeting, I had the fortune to introduce him to a friend of mine, another young man who stutters. And that friend shared his own journey which resonated with this 18 year old!

I met another new client, a college-age young woman who is almost unintelligible. She lives the definition of resilience, but her deepest wish is the ability to speak for herself, and claim the independence she craves. And one of the keys to unlock her independence is her ability to speak for herself, and to be understood.


You see, what strikes me is the subtlety of these two meetings - two different people with different circumstances... they both come for "speech therapy." But what they really need isn't "speech therapy." "Put your tongue here..." "Slow down..." "Take a deep breath..."

What they want is:

[1] To be heard and to be understood - without judgement or whitewashing the real speech struggles. To be afforded the opportunity to own and wrote their own story. Often with the support of family, friends and sometimes... abcaring professional too.

[2] Real life change - the ability to communicate with greater success and more ease! In real life; not only in the speech therapy office. To be able to order food, enjoy friendships, meet new people, and pursue a career.


What these clients need (and deserve) is a guide. A speech-language pathologist, with a caring heart, problem solving mind, and championing spirit to unleash their fullest potential... and give them the greatest gift! An incubator for their improvement, growth and increasing independence!

This is what we do at Schneider Speech with each of our clients.
Younger kids, teens, adults and parents!

I can tell you, it's effortful and exhausting, even though it may appear fluid and informal.
That's because it's not your grandma's speech therapy.
It's speech-language therapy 2.0
Speech-language therapy with soul.
As we have learned from our teachers, clients mentors - first and foremost, Dr. Phil Schneider.

We feel privileged to do this every day with each of our clients.

If you know someone looking for this kind of help, let them know we're here.
Kew Gardens Hills, Queens,
Roslyn, Long Island
Cedarhurst, Long Island
Flatbush, Brooklyn
Upper West Side, Manhattan
and
Riverdale, Bronx

VIDEO: Stop Bullying with George Springer

George Springer has earned the MVP award in Major League Baseball - but he's also earned our respect for his consistent courage as an articulate spokesman and stand-out role-model for kids and young people who stutter.

 
 

Reigning World Series MVP George Springer joins the Shred Hate campaign to stop bullying and encourage young fans to "Choose Kindness"

 
I want kids to be themselves. And enjoy their lives.
— George Springer
 

The Alchemist’s Secret - Teen tells his story

Meet Andrew Carlins. 

He stutters.  And I am the speech-therapist.  But this guys leaves me speechless - every time. 
His parents (shining examples in their own right) brought him to meet me in the Long Island office.  And the journey continues years later.  And so much more yet to come.
As a high-schooler, he participated in our panel Q&A events; he collaborated in designing and traveling to Israel to conduct epic research; we co-presented the research at the National Stuttering Association Convention in Atlanta, GA - and we "bowl" together at the annual Paul Rudd SAY Bowling Event.  He continues to shine, and finds time to serve as a mentor for our teens who stutter.

He has an amazing way with words, and moves me every time.  Enjoy.

Uri


The Alchemist’s Secret

Alchemists look to change iron into gold, trying to perfect the imperfect. We are all alchemists trying to refine ourselves; however, only the few who learn the alchemist’s secret are successful. I achieved my revelation through overcoming my greatest obstacle: my stutter.

We are all alchemists trying to refine ourselves.
— Andrew

Imagine you have a question, but when you try to ask it, the words get trapped in your throat. Your ability to express yourself is attached to an iron chain around your neck. Others laugh as you struggle to break the chains that keep your voice trapped within, itching for freedom.

Welcome to the world of a stuttering child. Scratch that.

Welcome to the world of a stuttering child who allows that stutter to overpower his voice.

As a fifth grader, I was a full time stutterer and a part time entrepreneur with a business selling sports memorabilia to my friends. To build my inventory, I consciously decided to write letters to several teams, fearing I would stutter if I attempted to call. I thought the letters were convincing, but, based on the lack of responses, the teams did not.

Welcome to the world of a stuttering child who allows that stutter to overpower his voice.
— Andrew

I walked into speech therapy that week frustrated and disappointed. I wanted so much to be free of my stutter, which seemed to keep my business, and me, from growing.  My speech pathologist suggested I call the sports teams to personalize my request. He insisted I start each call by bluntly saying that I am a stutterer, predicting positive results.  Surprisingly, the more forthcoming I was, the better the outcome. It rained memorabilia during the following weeks.

I distinctly remember my first call to the Long Island Ducks. I hoped no one would answer, counting each dial tone and anticipating the relief of the voicemail recording. My desires went unfulfilled as I heard a respondent on the line.

“Hello. M-my n-name is Andrew,” I said stuttering as my chains tightened. I continued, “I-I-I am a st-u-uttt-erer a-and I am int-e-e-e-eeres-s-s-s-s-sted   i-i-in y-your mem-mem-memorabilia.”

As the pitch progressed, the chains of my stutter stopped burdening me. I was so focused on achieving my goal that others’ perceptions ceased to bother me.  For the first time, I spoke freely. I controlled my voice. The iron chain around my neck turned golden, as I realized my disfluent speech could not silence my voice. Only I could.

Surprisingly, the more forthcoming I was, the better the outcome.
It rained memorabilia during the following weeks.
— Andrew

Although I still occasionally stutter, I speak confidently wearing my now golden chains, proudly. My gift of stuttering inspires me to use my voice to empower others to find theirs. I act on my inspiration by giving back to the stuttering community. As a member and mentor of the not-for-profit organization Stuttering Association for the Young and a researcher leading an international stuttering research project, I raise awareness that stutterers are not alone and that there are multiple treatments that lead to success. Throughout my journey, I have had the privilege of ringing the NASDAQ bell announcing National Stuttering Awareness Week and presenting my research findings at an International Stuttering Conference. Reflecting on my experiences, I realize millions stutter, including Joe Biden, but only the extraordinary are "stuttering alchemists" who embrace their perfect imperfection and stutter well. I now know the alchemist’s secret, and I hope to empower others to learn it too.

For the first time, I spoke freely. I controlled my voice.
The iron chain around my neck turned golden,
as I realized my disfluent speech could not silence my voice.
— Andrew

My stutter no longer defines me, but my journey with it still shapes my worldview. I have come to understand that accepting oneself entirely leads to courage and self-confidence, which are gateways to success.

Since this essay is my first impression, I would like to introduce myself in a fashion I found successful years ago, that also takes into account my experiences and current self-perception: “Hello my name is Andrew. I am a stutterer….I am also a scholar, a musician, a poet, an entrepreneur, a researcher,  an athlete, an actor, an advocate, a mentor, a leader, a listener, a brother, a dog-lover, an individual... and an alchemist.”

 
 Andrew, Tammy (mom) and Uri at Paul Rudd Bowling Event for Stuttering Assoc. for the Young (2013)

Andrew, Tammy (mom) and Uri at Paul Rudd Bowling Event for Stuttering Assoc. for the Young (2013)

 
My stutter no longer defines me,
but my journey with it still shapes my worldview.
— Andrew
 Andrew attends Duke and studied abroad in Ireland (2018)

Andrew attends Duke and studied abroad in Ireland (2018)

Andrew Carlins is a student at Duke University, studying Financial Economics, Environmental Science and Policy and Ethics.  He is concerned with refugee rights, environmental economics and getting to know people.  At Duke, he mentors refugee students in Durham, NC, and engages city officials on behalf of refugees.  Andrew shows them that a stutter doesn’t have to hold someone back, and can actually make someone a better, stronger listener.
Andrew is proud of his stutter and grateful for the opportunity to share his experiences with others.  Feel free to email anytime (carlins101@gmail.com) with questions or thoughts.  Andrew would love to hear from you.

*This was also submitted as his college essay.

Stuttering Book Worms: Top 10 Books We Recommend

People often ask us for the best books we recommend on the topic of stuttering.  So we put together a list of books. 

In these books, you will find candid and wide-ranging perspectives. 

We hand-picked them, and we know and respect several of the the authors.  In fact, several are our colleagues and friends! 

To be honest, this list is LESS about stuttering, and MORE about the experience of living as a person who stutters.  The real struggle and the triumphs of true transcendence.

While we can assure you that not every book is right for you, you will find something that offers insight, support and inspiration. 

If you find something that interests you, go further!

We encourage you to contact the authors, as many of them are reachable via contact information in the book, or online.

And we'd be interested to hear from you as well.  Contact us.

 

Now without further adieu, here is our top 10:
(Titles and authors are clickable links)

 

1) Out With It: How Stuttering Helped Me Find My Voice, by Katherine Preston (2014)

2) The Gift of Stuttering - Confronting Life's Challenges: A Personal Journey by Moe Mernick (2016)

3) Stuttering: Inspiring Stories and Professional Wisdom by Peter Reitzes (2014)

4) Living with Stuttering by Kenneth O. St.Louis

5) Solo Ascent by Matthew LaRue (2014)

6) V-V-Voice: A Stutterer's Odyssey by Scott Damian (2013)

7) Jaguar: One Man's Struggle To Establish The World's First Jaguar Preserve by Alan Rabinowitz (2000)

and #8 and #9 for kids!

8) A Boy and A Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz (2014)

9) Paperboy by Vince Vawter, (2013) and Copyboy by Vince Vawter, (2018)

 

Now, those are the top 9.  As for #10.  #10 is the most impressive book yet!

10) Your story. 
The next chapter of your journey!

 

Stay tuned for collection of Stuttering: Top 10 Films

 

 

We also want to include these free e-books - courtesy of and thanks to Stuttering Foundation of America.

Advice to Those Who Stutter by 28 speech therapists who stutter themselves.

Trouble at Recess by Jamie (8 year old girl who stutters)

Sometimes I Just Stutter by Eelco de Geus (for ages 7-12)

Self-Therapy for the Stutterer by Malcolm Fraser

The Child Who Stutters: To the Pediatrician by Barry Guitar and Edward G. Conture

Stuttering: Straight Talk for Teachers

Stuttering: Its Nature and Management by Courtney Stromsta, Ph.D.

The Girl Who Stutters by Mia J., Rebecca D., and Casey W. (school-age girls who stutter)

Pages 77-81 from Stuttering: Successes and Failures by Joseph Sheehan

The Stuttering Little Ballet Boy by Sohel Bagai

A tribute to Dr. Alan Rabinowitz - The boy and his jaguars

We remember our friend, Alan Rabinowitz (December 31, 1953 – August 5, 2018).

This page provides a window into the different facets of his life, and collects some of the opportunities we shared with Alan, and more. 

We will miss Alan.  And the world will miss Alan.

Through these images, podcasts and films, his legacy will live on.


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You can do two things without stuttering. One of them is sing. The other is to talk to animals.
— Alan Rabinowitz

Alan was our dear friend. 

He was a gentle giant, a strong man who preferred giving than taking, and preferred advocating for others rather than advancing his own self-interests. 

In adulthood, Alan became a strong voice.  He was a pioneering advocate for worldwide conservation of big cats (founder and president of Panthera); an ambassador for people who stutter (spokesman for Stuttering Foundation of America); and a role model for many kids, young adults who stutter.  He was a dear friend, and an intensely private and generous soul.

But his early childhood looked quite different than the strong shouldered spokesman and fearless advocate.  As a shy kid from the Rockaways, his stutter led him to hide in shame. It also led him to make a promise to the big cats at the Bronx Zoo. That promise changed his life - and the lives of big cats around the world as well as thousands of young people who stutter, inspired by Alan. 


 

Alan was featured in our film, Transcending Stuttering.
His messages resonate through the film, and especially at:
18:39 Hitting Rock Bottom
21:04 Hope & Wisdom
25:24 Perspective: Then & Now

 

WATCH: Exclusive extra-footage of Alan's story

From our documentary film, Transcending Stuttering: The Inside Story.


Stuttering is a gift.
The gift of living with integrity, with strength and with courage, no matter what the world throws at you.
— Alan Rabinowitz

WATCH: Some of Alan's best films, TV and stories

WATCH: This gripping award-winning Canon short-film 'Man and Beast' depicts Alan's journey.

"60 Minutes" with Bob Simon, searches Brazilian jungle for the most elusive of all of nature's big cats, the jaguar. With Alan Rabinowitz.

Dr. Alan Rabinowitz and the scientists @Panthera embark on a race against time #JourneyoftheJaguar

Zoologist Alan Rabinowitz almost makes Stephen Colbert cry with the story of how he was inspired to save big cats (Comedy Central).


LISTEN to Alan the storyteller

WATCH: Alan tell this very personal story from the canyons of the Himalayas.
Touches on various topics including stuttering, marriage, fatherhood and life.


READ Alan the author.

 

Sparking Conversation through Literacy

Shared reading time is a great opportunity to sit-down with your child to have some good quality time. Of course, every time you read with your child you are working on strengthening their reading skills but it also provides an opportunity to discuss the story and create text-to-life connections.

Talking about stuttering with your child can feel overwhelming. As a caregiver, you may have a lot of your own questions and emotions about stuttering and/or having a conversation about stuttering.  You are not alone.  Using a book to facilitate the conversation may give you more clarity - making the experience easier for the both of you and (bonus!) you may even have some fun along the way. 

Here is a list of books that may help start the conversation:

“Steggie’s Stutter” by: Jack Hughes

 “Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand” by: Artie Knapp or  access this story for free on Youtube

“Sophie’s Stutter” by: Ingrid Bruske

“Gabriela (American Girl)” by: Teresa E. Harris

 
 

Happy Reading!

Tiffany Marino, associate speech-language pathologist, Schneider Speech

A Stuttering Transformation - Teen Tells Her Own Story

My old self:

I am a very quiet girl.  Usually I prefer to sit on the side and not draw too much attention.  Speaking is my fear.  I will do anything to avoid it; whether it's running out of the room or just acting as if I don't know the answer to the question.  Most of my friends know me as the girl who doesn't speak in class.  Only my close friends have really heard me talk. 

I don't like that people see me this way, but I guess it's better than the alternative - stuttering

Ever since I began to speak I've had a stutter. My earliest memory of stuttering is in the 3rd grade, that's when I asked my parents to go to a speech therapist for the first time. I always thought of my stutter as something to be embarrassed of, to be ashamed of.  I thought of it as a disability.  Instead of facing my stutter and making the best of it, I tried to hide it and run away from it.

 
 

 

My new self:

I may not be the loudest or most talkative girl in the world, but I'm no longer afraid to speak.

It's not that the stutter disappeared, I just think of it in a completely different way.  I learned to see my stutter as a part of me, and to embrace it.  God only challenges us with challenges we are able to face, and if God gave me a stutter then I must be able to face it.

I realized that my stutter makes me unique, it makes me a more patient person and it teaches me the value of words. Over the past few years I've gone through major changes in my life and now I'm happy to say that: I have spoken in front of my class; I took an oral exam and scored very well on it; I make phone calls whenever I want to; and I even got a job which requires speaking to customers and co-workers all the time.

 

My journey to my new self:

As I mentioned, over the past few years I've gone through big changes that completely turned my life around in such a positive way.  This process started when I first met Uri from Schneider Speech in 9th grade.  I came to Uri as my old self and left just I started to reach my new self.

On my way towards my new self, I endured several setbacks alongside many victories.
I needed to be patient with myself;
and I also needed my speech therapist to be patient with me as well. 
— Devora

Pushing me too far, too soon, was a terrible mistake. 
Whether it was my speech therapist, my friends, my family or my teachers. Over the years I've had teachers who tried to force me to speak in class and on the other hand teachers who respected my request not to be called on.  I definitely had a much better relationship with the teachers who respected my silence than with the teachers who did not.  The teachers who gave me my space were in fact the ones who ended up hearing me speak more in class voluntarily.

Surprisingly, the teachers who gave me my space, were the ones who ended up hearing me speak more in class.

Another thing that was not helpful during those years was my own constant desire to cure my stutter.  Because I was so focused on getting rid of the stutter, I didn't give myself the opportunity to learn to accept it and live happily with it.  In the back of my mind I knew that I was probably going to have a stutter for the rest of my life but I wasn't willing to give up. The more I tried to get rid of the stutter the more upsetting it was every time I wasn't able to speak fluently.  

I felt like a failure. But once I accepted myself with the stutter and decided I won't let it get in my way, the stutter actually got significantly better and bothered me a lot less.

As a teenager going to speech therapy, patience was the key to my transformation. I needed to be patient with myself, and I needed my speech therapist to be patient with me as well.  Every big change I went through was made up of a lot of small changes that could not all happen at once.

When I first met Uri I remember telling him "I will never call to order pizza" and "I will never speak in front of my class."  Uri assured me, over and over again, that one day, I could do all those things.  Even though I didn't believe him, something inside me wanted to prove him right and prove me wrong.

My therapist's belief in me was more than I had in myself.  I think that belief was a big part of my change.

My last meeting with Uri was at the end of 10th grade. I didn't think it would be my last meeting, I was sure I would be back again when things got hard. But once I stopped going to speech therapy I started to really think about everything that happened during our meetings.

The more time passed the more I saw myself change. I became less afraid of stuttering and slowly started to do the things I told Uri I would never do. The more time passed the more I saw myself change. I became less afraid of stuttering and slowly started to do the things I told Uri I would never do.

I was a much stronger person and when things got a little hard I didn't even feel the need to go back to speech therapy, because I was able to handle it myself.

It turns out I proved myself wrong.  He was right.  I could and would do so many of the things I said "I never could..."  And I'm so happy I did.

 

Devora Levi is 18 years old.  She lives in Israel and will be starting her national service this coming year.

 

 

IMAGES: National Stuttering Association Convention 2018 @Chicago

An incredible conference and gorgeous city! 

We learned a lot more about ACT with our friend Katie Gore and her team, and lots of other friends.  Definitely a HIGHLIGHT running 10k (me) and rollerblading (dad/Phil) on the boardwalk of Lake Michigan!

 
Phil Uri Chicago NSA 2018.jpg
 
 

We enjoyed seeing so many friends - and made new ones. 

But MOST OF ALL, it is incredible to see the transformative experience for our clients who came, and so many families, kids, teens and adults.  The conference is an oasis, a haven, a community of listening, love and acceptance.  

To be honest, we also gain so much from the experience.  We bask in the environment of people connecting and "transcending" differences that don't make a difference.  And we are encouraged to hear the stories of triumph, from people we know.  And probably the most valuable part is LEARNING from other professionals and from people who stutter themselves.

Nothing in any textbook or any classroom can compare to the lessons learned by spending time with people who live with stuttering.  Really LIVE!

Next year - we hope to see you there!  @NSA Convention in Ft Lauderdale, FL

NEW: Group therapy - just for teens who stutter 😉


ONE-TIME “TASTER” MEETING - 8-9pm, Tuesday October 9

Open to all teens who stutter.

(Current and past clients are welcome too.)

DETAILS:
Fee: $75
Time: 8:00-9:00pm
Tuesday October 9, 2018
Location: 1025 Northern, Boulevard, Roslyn, NY

Scroll down more info, and RSVP button below “APPLY HERE”.


monthly group THERAPY for teens who stutter

Fees made affordable.

Scheduling made easy.

Location made local.

Change made possible.
 

Details: How

  • Monthly meeting

  • Hosted by professional stuttering specialist

  • Small group of teens who stutter - providing peer-support, network, community

  • Our locations: Queens, Roslyn, Cedarhurst

  • Renewable monthly fee paid for 6 months series

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Why group therapy for teens who stutter?  

Increase the impact and value for your teen, combining TWO proven methods to help teens:

[Professional Guidance] + [Group Peer Support]

 

What's in it for teens?

We help teens address the physical, cognitive and emotional components of stuttering.  

  • Understand your speech and your stuttering

  • Learn "traditional" speech therapy techniques and discover what works best for you

  • Face your fears and expand your "comfort-zone"

  • Share your thoughts and practice communication skills in a safe space



Groups forming now for Fall 2018

We look forward to hearing from you,
Uri and Joy

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VIDEO: Bullying: Zero-Tolerance

Nothing gets me more upset, than when I hear kids are being bullied.

When it comes to bullying I think there are three important questions:

  1. What is bullying and what is just "kids being kids"?

  2. Where and when does it happen?

  3. What can we do about it?

 

1. What is bullying and what is just "kids being kids"?

First of all bullying is different than teasing and it's different than abuse. The definitions are shifting with time, but what is definite about bullying is that it's the repetitive targeting of an individual or individuals with some behavior that makes them feel uncomfortable.

It could be something as "innocent" as walking past a student in the aisle, and giving them a little elbow.... over and over and over.  That's bullying.  It could be something as egregious as inappropriate touching, name-calling and/or teasing in a way that relentlessly and repetitively focuses on the same target over time.  That's also bullying. 

 
 

2. Where and when does bullying happen

Most often, the bully knows how to slip-in, most often targeting kids in the in-between moments; transitions between classes, recess, lunchtime, dismissal,  the bathroom, on the bus, during unsupervised times, and unfortunately, bullies don't keep it reserved for school.  Bullying occurs in our communities, in the park, in synagogues, churches, and mosques.  And of course, it can occur online in the shadows of social media.

 

3. What to do about bullying?

It's tricky. 

OPTION A: Empower the bullied
Too often we turn to the targeted kids - the ones being "bullied" - and we put the onus of responsibility on them.  We tell our kids to fight back, speak-up for themselves, ignore... But, often the bullied kids (especially the ones with communication challenges) can't do it.  If they could speak-up for themselves, they would.  Sometimes, facing a bully can be legitimately challenging, scary and ineffective.  And sometimes, it can be more trouble than it''s worth!

OPTION B: Confront the bully
Often the bully is unresponsive to other adults intervention, and too often, even speaking to the parents of the bully is less-than we wish it would be.

OPTION C: Activating the community - adults and young people together

ZERO TOLERANCE FOR BULLYING MEANS: We all share a common interest to ensure that all children are safe to grow to learn and to flourish.


What is proven to be effective is engaging the responsible adults in that space; whether it's teachers at school or people in your community.  The shared interest is to ensure that all children are in a safe environment, where all children are safe to grow to learn and to flourish.

There is also another overlooked resource against bullying.  That is all the "other kids."  Not the ones who are bullying and not the ones being bullied, but all those kids who are watching it happen day-in and day-out.  By observing this behavior and standing-by passively, these "other kids" are giving permission and even approval to the bully's behavior!

So, if we engage all the students in class, and the young people in our communities to be "good samaritans" then they play an active part in creating a bully-free environment.

All of us are stronger than any one of us.
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VIDEO: Top 5 Ways Talk About Stuttering

 

Click the video above to start watching!

 
Contrary to popular beliefs,
the act of talking about stuttering is often liberating
- not traumatic. 
— Uri Schneider

In this video, we learn about a family of school-age child who stutters, working together to find descriptive language - as opposed to judgmental language (i.e. good/bad) - to talk about stuttering.


 Top 5 Words to Talk About "Stuttering"

  • sticky

  • bumpy

  • effortful

  • tense

  • pressed

* NOTICE: Can you see the descriptive language - and the absence of judgemental language?
** Also, try to use words to describe what it is (i.e. "tense"); and not what it's not (i.e. "not easy"). 
You can see how it gets confusing using negatives ;-)


Top 5 Words TO TALK ABOUT "FLUENCY"

  • gliding

  • smooth

  • easy

  • fluid

  • flow

  • effortless

* NOTICE: These words are centered on the experience of the speaker / talker; how it feels for the speaker (i.e. sticky, easy).   As opposed to focusing exclusively on how it is perceived by the listener (ie. stuttering or fluent).


 
 
 

EXERCISE: Build YOUR OWN (FAMILY) "vocabulary"

TIPS: Try with your family

  • Keeping it light-hearted (even fun) thinking of words to describe speech (both "stuttering" and "fluency")

  • Brainstorm altogether, or see if each person can create their own list and then share with each other.

  • See who can come up with the most words!

  • Put the words in a notebook, on your phone notepad or on the fridge; and begin to use these words when talking about speech.  You can even discuss sharing "your personalized vocabulary" with therapists, teachers, family.

 

Let us know:

What words are in "your stuttering vocabulary"?

 


VIDEO: How To Talk To Kids About Speech Therapy

 
 

Watch our video!

If we were talking to an adult, we would (hopefully) consider their experiences, their feelings, their concerns...  We would consider whether they like surprises, or like to be informed in advance; whether they prefer to skip the details, or prefer to know exactly what to expect.

We need to think about children as young people.
— heard from Taro Alexander, SAY

Speech therapy is not part of the everyday routine.  It's not like the universal daily ritual (wrestle) of brushing teeth. 

Let's be honest, speech therapy is unusual.  It's different.  And it's often unclear what it is, what it looks like and how it works.

So, if you're a parent or a therapist, ask yourself these questions, BEFORE speaking to your child.  Of course you might discuss some of these questions WITH your child. 
And you might speak with the professional IN ADVANCE of your appointment - so everyone is on-the-same-page.
And this conversation should be ongoing, checking-in during the first meeting and subsequent appointments, to ensure the "young person" is taken into account.


3 questions to prepare your child for success in speech therapy
 

1. What's going through the child's mind?

What are their questions and concerns?

 

2. What are the "hot words"?

"Hot words" that turn-them-off. 
What words might scare them or make them feel uneasy? 

"Hot words" that turn-them-on.
What words can be inviting and soothing? 

 

3. What could be a "security blanket"?

What are source of comfort, safety or security?


 
 

What's going through the child's mind?

The example I think of is something I heard from Dr. Carol Westby, one of giants in in research and clinical speech-language pathology.  She contributed loads of research, assessments and more to show us how children learn through play

Now, for example, if you think about how children learn to swim, children don't learn how to swim when they're terrified of/in the water.  They learn how to swim only after they're comfortable to "splish splash" and fool-around in the water. 

So, what that means for us is this: children don't learn when they're terrified.  None of us do. 
We may memorize something out of fear, we may be able to spit it back on a test, but we're not really learning, long-term, deep learning.  Long-term, deep, learning happens when you feel safe.  Learning and therapy for that matter, happens when you feel interested and curious; when you feel secure; when you feel there's someone on the other side that has something to offer you.  When you feel that other person "gets you," responds to you and can enlighten you. 

Children don’t learn when they’re terrified. 
None of us do. 
Our brains learn best, when they feel safe, even playful.
— Uri Schneider

WORDS THAT TURN-OFF:

I don't think my seventh-grade son is interested in anyone else telling him that he's going to have speech homework. No one is looking for more homework. So, the second you say, “Hello, I was going to give a little speech homework," I think you've lost them at "hello."  We need to think about the words we use. 

 

WORDS THAT TURN-ON:

As compared to the previous example; These are ways to create a bridge, to create trust, and once you do that, you can have a very productive relationship, and you can really work on very sensitive things.   For example; inviting a youngster to start a project; or inviting a youngster to draw, act, dance or even make a face to show how they feel about something.  Sometimes, touchy topics can be more comfortable once you establish "rapport" through some very soothing activities like; watching a video, looking at pictures, reading a book, going outside to take a walk, shoot hoops or throw/kick a ball back and forth.  So long as you use words that are very sterile and very fearsome. Even if the person stays in therapy, it's not going to penetrate. 

 

"SECURITY BLANKETS":

Depending on the child's age, there are security blankets to consider - before and upon arriving at therapy.

  • Bring a snack (ask therapist if this is "ok," ahead of time!)

  • A familiar book

  • A favorite toy or game

  • Tell the child "the therapist is NOT a doctor" (i.e. no shots)

  • Assure the child they will not be left alone in the room without parent (discuss ahead of time with therapist)

  • Ask the therapist what the child (and parent!) should expect during the appointment, and relay that to your child

  • Prepare some notes to inform the therapist of your child's interests, hobbies, accomplishments

  • Prepare the child to answer basic questions - and if the child may be reluctant, make a plan with the child how they would like to handle the situation

 

SUMMARY TIPS:

I think that's the way to set-up "how we talk about therapy."  Whether it's a young child, or an older child, or a teen, or an adult, we should make sure to make it relevant; make sure to address points of concern (and even resistance), and make it matter of fact, and description not judgemental.

If we prepare well, then we can engage in therapy with the confidence that we want to have - and assured that our kids will have the confidence they crave.  After all, we all deserve to feel safe and secure.

 

Uri Schneider, Co-Director Schneider Speech