Shortly after my book, “Voice Unearthed” was published, a leader in the field of speech therapy for children who stutter expressed concern that my message would “only confuse parents.” I don’t disagree – and I believe this is a good thing. We often become confused when we gain information that challenges our current belief system. Confusion forces us to make the time and space to reflect and to seek further understanding.
It was exactly this confusion that motivated me to spend six years researching and writing “Voice Unearthed.” This book was written to help those dealing with this issue articulate their concerns and move forward in demanding and creating better strategies.
Last Sunday our Unitarian pastor complimented us on how, by coming to church and sitting quietly for an hour, we were making time, thus space, for ourselves. Creating this space in our lives often leads to reflection and increased awareness. Confusion is one path to that essential place.
When I was running Eli back and forth to speech therapy twice a week, sitting down with him every day to have “special time,” finding time for his older brothers, homeschooling, working, keeping everyone fed and watered and keeping up a house, I had little time to reflect. One week the speech therapist had a family emergency and we suddenly had six additional hours of free time. It was literally during this week that my level of discomfort and confusion surfaced. I had the space and time to reflect on how the extraordinary level of energy and resources we were putting into therapy compared to what we were getting in return. Of course I hoped it would all pay off in the long run, but deep down I think I knew better.
The National Stuttering Association admits that their surveys indicate that “84% experienced a relapse after improving their fluency in therapy.” http://www.nsastutter.org/stutteringInformation/NSA_Survey_Results.html
And what does this relapse do – especially to a school-aged child who so wants to please? Each time they make a speech error, in their minds they have relapsed. Daily, hourly, each and every minute this is the world they live in. Filled with fear of failure, of shame, of embarrassment because they failed to use their tool box to avoid the dreaded speech error. This expectation is not only developmentally inappropriate – but does far more harm than good.
Many parents and speech therapists have shared with me that they were never comfortable with the instruction and guidance they were getting. Increasing parents’ and speech therapists’ awareness of the level of disagreement, chaos, and confusion that reigns amongst professionals and researchers SHOULD result in an increased discomfort with how kids who stutter are treated. Call it confusion or call it frustration, I call it all good because the more parents and speech therapists who find themselves uncomfortable with the current state of therapy, the more quickly much needed change will come about.
Thank you for your interest and keep them talking!
Dori Lenz Holte