Depending on the child's age, there are security blankets to consider - before and upon arriving at therapy. Here’s our list of things we think you should consider:
Bring a snack (ask therapist if this is "ok," ahead of time!)
Bring a familiar book
Bring 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
We often hear things like:
"My child is not showing much motivation and seems disinterested - but my husband and I really want him/her to do this."
"I'm concerned about my child's speech and I really want them do the work to get better."
Here are some things to remember during this confusing time!
Stakeholders - Both parents and children have their own valid concerns!
Kids have the right to decline
Make it inviting
We hope these tips help you to decide what's best for your child!
Play our video above on this topic!
Here’s a recap!
For different people, different things are going to be helpful. At Schneider Speech, we don't use the term ‘stuttering modification’ or ‘fluency shaping’, instead it's always based on: what are the client’s needs, what are the client’s goals. We can figure out and custom tailor fit the right therapy plan for them once we identify the following:
what their needs are
what their communication spirit is
what is the nature of their stuttering
what their goals are
where they would like to be more free to speak and speak fully and express themselves fully we can figure out and custom tailor fit the right therapy plan for them.
Here's some general tips about stuttering therapy:
if a technique doesn't work, it's not worth it
if a technique is not acceptable if it doesn't sound better than their other way of speaking it's not good enough
don' make it robotic - if it's so effortful they can't remember what it was they wanted to say because they're so focused on strategies, IT'S NOT A STRATEGY THAT WORKS.
a good therapist, is going to tune into that and make an adjustment, either to change something about the technique or change direction entirely.
Things to remember when thinking about seeking speech therapy:
What Type of parent are you?
Are you able to “watch-and-see” and tolerate allowing some more time, and give your child the opportunity to sort it out themselves?
Are you more concerned, risk-aversive and more comfortable being more proactive rather than applying a more patient approach?
What ABOUT YOUR CHILD? And They’re Temperament?
Is your child reactive and fussy?
Is your child easy-going and unbothered?
IF Parents and kids are not concerned…
If neither parent, nor the child is concerned - it can be a legitimate option to allowing more time. There is no objective need to rush to therapy sooner than later.
(In some cases there can be reasons to seek therapy sooner than later", but it’s not always true that “early intervention” is always the best policy.)
If you choose to “watch and see,” then put a date on your calendar to follow-up (4-12 weeks later). Something like this: “If by this date, nothing has changed, let’s give therapy a try.”
Click here for a practical infographic - when to seek professional stuttering evaluation for your young child who stutters.
For more - see the video above.
Click the image above to play our video
The therapy has to be fit for the person you’re working with
approach for pre-schoolers who stutter
Stuttering for preschool children is often just a blip and may resolve on its own.
Not a lot of stigma, or judgment; very matter of fact
Focused primarily on physical behaviors of stuttering
Focus on supporting parents and empowering them to help their children
transition from pre-school to school-age and beyond
At some point, in the early school years, children begin to compare themselves to others
‘My hair is different’,
‘My body image is not the same as everyone else’,
‘My skin color isn't the same’
The “non-physical”/emotional component of stuttering is introduced
As we move into the school-age, teen, and adult years, we have to think about how the person may be faced with thoughts and feelings around stuttering, and how that affects their overall experience in life and self-image.
Joseph Sheehan’s Analogy of the Iceberg
We think about how each person experiences the “physical” vs. “non-physical” components of stuttering to determine what therapy approach is best:
How much of the work is above the surface?
Behaviors we can hear or see like a stutter, or a body movement
What's beneath the surface?
Emotions and thoughts we often can't see, both positive and negative; shame, guilt, confidence, acceptance
Click the video above to start watching
The Right Way Vs. the Wrong Way
There is no right way
There is a wrong way, which is to try to do a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution.
We may be the professionals and we may be the experts, but we're not the boss. A mother's intuition, a father's intuition is the best knowledge and the best guide in the process.
remember what stuttering is
a physical issue not an emotionally based issue
a neurophysiological issue, which involves the coordination of signals and neurons in the brain setting up the coordination of the speech mechanism
Stuttering is NOT
a learning disability
caused by anxiety
caused by parents
Good Communication Values
Plant communication values during moments of opportunity. You don't teach values, you plant them.
If we can listen to what the child has to say and practice active listening at the moment that the child is getting stuck, we can send a very powerful message to that young child. And that message is:
“What you have to say is worth listening to, no matter how it comes out. I'm listening to what you have to say more than how you say it”.
So, you or your child stutters.
Before you consult too much with Dr. Google, let us share some helpful facts to steer you in a helpful direction (also see our infographic).
Sometimes the best place to start is to understand what stuttering is NOT...
Stuttering is NOT an emotional problem
Stuttering is NOT a cognitive problem
Stuttering is NOT caused by parents
Stuttering is likely pre-wired, within the child's neurophysiological "wiring" at birth. Often, stuttering first appears years later during the developmental years of 2-8, correlated to developmental and/or environmental conditions.
Many kids go through some dysfluency or fluency instability for a period of time and move through it. The incidence is probably underreported for those who are younger and experience disfluency for shorter durations of time.
Research suggests that five out of a hundred (5%) kids stutter for six months or more, and only one out of a hundred (1%) retain the trait into adulthood.
So, there is a strong likelihood that this is not going to be a lifelong trait. This can be something optimistic to know, and valuable to keep in mind.
With that being said, when your child is stuttering, you don't care about statistics. You don't want your child to become a statistic.
So I think it's really important for people who care for families to remember that.
Parents don't need statistics. They need help as parents and they want to help their child the very best they can.
I think finding what's right for you, finding the right resource of information for yourself is the best thing you can do. Anyone who knows me, and anyone who knows this issue would agree that binging on Dr. Google is probably the worst thing you could possibly do!
There are good resources out there, and support groups for families who are dealing with this issue with their children.
We are not the only address, but we can be a good one for you.
You can contact us. Stay tuned as we roll-out more content, videos and free webinars like this!
Click the video above to check it out!
some tips and strategies for working with your pre-schooler who stutters:
1. Understand the whole child
What are their language skills?
Are they having trouble with language?
Do they have trouble understanding language?
Maybe they understand language very well, but they have trouble expressing themselves. You want to understand everything about their language.
2. Look at their temperament
Some kids are really rough and tough, ‘rock’em sock’em’. They just keep ticking, no matter what happens.
Some kids are really sensitive. They're sensitive themselves and they tend to be very sensitive towards others.
I'd work differently with a four-year-old with an easy going temperament versus one with a tougher temperament.
3. Provide CUSTOM therapy
Our goal, whatever approach we’re going to be employing is that we don't throw any approach or anything too rigid on anybody. We try to:
tailor fit the right therapy
borrow from the best research and popular approaches out there
But none of them are a cure-all for every child. So, it's a real decision-making process, engaging the parents, putting the parents in the driver's seat, and making sure that we're working with the child.
4. Treat them like people
we need to make sure that the communication that we encourage between parents and children is naturalistic, not artificial and plastic.
In doing so, hopefully we can help them with the physical side of stuttering, and also help them with the communication values to keep talking and have the confidence they were born with!
Click the video above to start watching!
What to do when a parent wants therapy but a child does not?
Ask yourself: What's the root of the problem?
Thinking about what the child's concerns are and helping to alleviate them can be a big step forward.
Talk about it in a different way
Present therapy in a new light! For example:
“Mommy and daddy noticed that sometimes your words are getting stuck. We love you and we found someone who knows a lot about kids whose words get stuck and we want to get some help, some tips, some advice on how we can do the best we can for you. Would you like to come?”
3. Respect them
As they get older, they start to own shares of their life. Allow the child's voice to be heard, even if it's not what we wish to hear.
Now how about this...
‘How do you work with children who might not want to be in therapy?’
1. Learn what's troubling them
If a child is going through something significant in their life, like a stutter, learn what it is and what it's not. Let them know help exists.
2. Give them an invitation
Give a child an opportunity and an invitation. It can be helpful to present therapy as a project: “Would you be interested in a little project? We'll meet for three times and learn a little bit more about this whole speech thing.”
Click the video above to start watching!
Here’s a recap of our video!
Talking about stuttering with your teen can be challenging, but it needs to happen! Read below for some tips on approaching this sensitive topic in a safe and dignified way.
1. Don't ignore the elephant in the room!
The worst thing to do is to pretend the stuttering is not there. That sends a message (and transmits a value/judgement) that this way of talking is a "no-no," taboo, we don't talk about it.
2. Talk about it, in a way that is respectful, dignified and nuanced
Use descriptive language - not judgmental language.
If we can use words that are descriptive and just acknowledge what it is, we can talk about stuttering in a respectful and sensitive manner
i.e.: “It must be hard sometimes, would you like to find some ways to learn how to make it easier to talk about it?”
Being insensitive can lead to negative outcomes including poor self-image, reduced confidence and ultimately, a young person who retreats into a safer shell of silence.
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:
 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.
 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
Upper West Side, Manhattan
It can be really challenging to talk about uncomfortable topics.
All the more so when speaking with our kids.
Books can be really helpful to open-up crucial conversations with young people.
Never underestimate young people, and the valuable opportunities to open conversations to engage important topics!
Practical suggestion: Shared reading time can be a great opportunity to sit-down with your child and enjoy real quality time. Every time you do, you strengthen their reading skills, and you also create a rich opportunity to make connections from the text-to-life.
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.
Try using a book to facilitate the conversations.
Books can provide clarity - making it easier for the both of you.
And you may enjoy some bonus smiles along the way!
Here is a list of books that may help start the conversation:
“Stuttering Stan Takes a Stand” by: Artie Knapp or access this story for free on Youtube
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.
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.
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:
What is bullying and what is just "kids being kids"?
Where and when does it happen?
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?
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
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.
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"
* 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"
* 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.
Watch our video!
As adults, public speaking is the #1 fear, worldwide!
So, how about our young people!?
Rites of passage can create a lot of pressure for kids - and a lot of uncertainty for parents. Sweet-16’s, bar-mitzvahs and bat-mitzvahs, and graduation speeches are all instances in which a child may be expected to speak in front of a crowd. So the question is: If my child stutters or has a communication problem should I make them give the speech, or should I give them a pass not to give the speech?
This is a really big dilemma and there's no right answer. There's no perfect way, there's no way to be a perfect parent, but there are hundreds of ways to be a good one.
I think the #1 rule of thumb is engaging your child, especially the adolescent and the teen and giving them a voice, giving them some self-determination to choose what they would like to do and deal with what their concerns are. Too often, as adults, therapists and parents we think we know what young people feel and we forget to just ask them!
When we ask our kids what's on their mind and ask them what would help them - like: would they prefer it this way or that way - we can be so much more relaxed and so much more confident because the decisions we make are informed by what they're really feeling.
In some cases, the best thing we could do is give them the opportunity to choose to pass. And in another scenario, the best thing we can do is give them the encouragement that they really want, so that they can succeed and shine and communicate effectively. Perhaps there may even be a third way.
I'm thinking of one pre- bar-mitzvah boy in particular - he was a great kid with a strong stutter. His parents asked me what they should do. Now, this boy was a talented videographer and instead of giving his speech live and instead of giving a speech at all, he opted to create a montage that included a pre-recorded speech with animation and videos sliding in and out with a musical soundtrack.
And you know what? No one noticed, remembered or commented about the fact that he stuttered!
The feedback from guests was better than his parents or I could have hoped for! We we blown away.
"That was by far the most unique, engaging, and creative bar-mitzvah speech I have ever heard."
He communicated and presented well enough - and by most measures, even better than average!
When we confront the question of whether to push, whether to give a pass, or to find a third option (I am reminded by the lesson taught to me by my young bar-mitzvah friend) remember to engage our young people.
TIP #1 Ask them what they feel
TIP #2 Ask them what they're scared of
TIP #3 Ask them what they want to do about it
If we do, they'll help us make the best decisions we can!