Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Speech Therapy Progress

I was excited to see the recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found a genetic link to stuttering. This study validates the opinion of some that bad parenting, environment, or anxiety are NOT primary causes to stuttering! (This article at ABC News explains the study well.) It also gives me scientific ammunition to share with those who would like to assume that Nate stutters because our boys are so close in age, or that I'm a bad mom, or that we cause him stress which results in stuttering.  In reality, nobody is quite sure why kids stutter -- but this recent study provides some solid information that there is often a genetic component.

As far as Nate's progress, he is doing great! I have noticed that he is aware of his own stutters more often and uses the tools he's been taught to either stop, or start again, his speech.  We don't stop him each and every time, but we do stop him much more often than we did in the past. We don't embarrass him, or bring attention to it in front of others -- but we do encourage him to take control of his speech by using the tools.

We have found that one of his biggest barriers is not taking in enough breath before speaking. A simple reminder to "belly breathe" (or fully expand his lungs while taking in a breath) helps his speech come out smoothly, rather than bumpy.  (I also like the reference to smooth and bumpy speech.  It has a much less negative connotation than the word stutter.)

Learning about the speech machine, and how all the parts work together has not only helped him but also me!  When I begin to stumble over words while teaching, I find myself thinking of the speech machine and the tools Nate has learned in order to help me put myself back on track.

In addition to practicing his speech, he has also been working on a presentation about stuttering during his speech therapy sessions.  It's in the rough draft stages now, but when it's completed in a month or so, he'll have a booklet to go along with a spoken presentation to share with others who are interested in learning more about stuttering.

He has moved from practicing single words to practicing phrases. After phrases will come full sentences. He's doing an excellent job so far, but we know that it will take plenty of effort for him to regularly speak smoothly, and he will probably always work against stuttering when he speaks.

I did notice that he suddenly began stuttering quite a bit again, but it corresponded to a growth spurt.  After a couple weeks, the progress he made prior to the setback had been made again.  There are less than 3 months left in this school year, and I am eager to see his continued progress.

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