To change stuttering, you have to understand it. And to change YOUR stuttering, you have to understand what happens when YOU stutter. So how can we help kids analyze their own stuttering pattern in a way that’s fun and engaging?
One way is a game we call Teach Me Your Stutter. In this game the therapist takes on the role of the learner, and the client is the teacher! You might start by saying something like, “I’ve learned a lot about stuttering, but only one person is the expert in how YOU stutter.” The client then teaches the therapist how to stutter just like them. As the client corrects the therapist’s errors, both learn important details about the client’s stuttering pattern. And the game has the added benefit of reframing stuttering as something to be curious about, rather than something to dread or avoid.
How to do it:
First, make sure the time is right. This is not an activity to do in the first therapy session. Showing your stutter can take a lot of trust, so you want to do this only once you’ve built some rapport and feel confident the child knows they are in a safe space.
Give the client single words and ask them to demonstrate how they would stutter on that word. Then tell them that you’re going to try to do it just like them, and they can give you a letter grade. Have fun by getting it wrong on purpose! Kids love to give grownups bad grades - and they’ll learn more by correcting your mistakes. Each time the child tells you how to stutter more like them, you can add that detail to a list of things the child does when they stutter.
At the end, you’ll have a list of features unique to your client. Recap with them and you’ll both be much closer to understanding exactly what happens in the moment of stuttering.
The American Institute for Stuttering is a leading non-profit organization whose primary mission is to provide universally affordable, state-of-the-art speech therapy to people of all ages who stutter, guidance to their families, and much-needed clinical training to speech professionals wishing to gain expertise in stuttering. Offices are located in New York, NY, Atlanta, GA, and Los Angeles, CA, and services are also available online. Our mission extends to advancing public and scholarly understanding of this often misunderstood disorder.