Months ago, I blogged about asking our school district to provide speech therapy for our 7yo, Nate. He has a stutter that improves and worsens over time -- but has never gone away since he was about 3. It took months of evaluations and meetings and bureaucracy, but his actual speech therapy sessions started this week!
I am very grateful for the wonderful speech pathologist we are working with. She is kind, knowledgeable and I know she has bent and changed in order to accommodate our odd homeschooling selves. She will meet with Nate twice a week, after the regular school day has ended.
Today was our second meeting and I can see that I never would have known enough to help Nate on my own. I appreciate not only her existing knowledge, but that she has the resources to reach out and find the answers to questions she had about his speech disfluencies.
As you might imagine, not much has been done. After 2 meetings, Nate has a good understanding of the "speech machine" (Bascially, the diaphragm pushes air from the lungs, into the voicebox to make sound, which pushes it on so that the mouth, teeth, tongue and lips can form words. Over it all, the brain sends messages, which are sometimes misread resulting in a stutter.) I know that Nate understood the mechanics before, but I appreciate her reminder that there is nothing "wrong" and that people who stutter aren't "bad." It just "is"!
Today he practiced deep breathing, and I confess I was surprised to see that he didn't expand his belly when breathing in -- but instead pulled it in and then pulled it in farther when he exhaled. Making him more aware of his breaths, and having him practice deep breathing, and belly breathing, will probably help some of his disfluencies. Constricted breathing could possibly affect the air being pushed into the voicebox and cause tightness which could lead to a stutter.
He also practiced mindfully stuttering, and speaking while tense vs. relaxed. The meetings are not stressful for him at all, and Mrs. D helps put him at ease. Personally, I feel she's a bit heavy on the praise, but perhaps I'm a bit light?
There aren't any good scientific explanations of "why" people stutter, so much of what I just wrote is conjecture. I'm eager to watch him over the months to see how his increased awareness of his body and his speech help him gain control of his stuttering.