Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Comments Not Getting Through With Internet Explorer

It has come to my attention that comments sent to my blog using older versions of Internet Explorer had not been showing up.  So if you have commented and did not get a response, I apologize.  We (meaning my husband) have fixed the problem.  Feel free to resend comments that did not appear and I will be happy to respond!  Thank you!

Doreen (Dori) Lenz Holte

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Put a Lid on It

I love analogies.  So here’s one for you… 

Often the first instinct, when there’s a grease fire in your kitchen, is to dump a bucket of water on it.   Of course, most of us know better.  We know a lot about fire and we know that water will only make a grease fire spread.  

We don’t know a lot about why someone starts to stutter.  Our first instinct is to “put out the fire” by suggesting a child talk differently in order to not stutter.  But like water to a grease fire, this will most likely only exacerbate the problem.  Why?  Because the suggestion is apt to create more anxiety around talking.  We may not know much about the cause of stuttering, but we do know that anxiety to stuttering is like water to a grease fire.

So let’s just put a lid on it.
Keep them talking and keep talking fun!
Doreen (Dori) Lenz Holte
Author of Voice Unearthed: Hope, Help, and a Wake-Up Call for the Parents of Children Who Stutter

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bullying – it doesn’t end with the kids or on the playground!

Several months ago I witnessed a speech therapist I admire make light of the fact that children usually only use their speech tools while with the therapist.  While I firmly believe that there is not one drop of malicious intent behind the casual acceptance of this common observation, we need to understand that the negative impact of setting up unattainable goals for a child can be devastating.    

I’ve often hear parents say “I just don’t know why he doesn’t use his tools at home, he does so well with his therapist.”  Both parents and speech therapists usually decide that the child just needs more practice.  When that doesn’t help, they decide that they’ve done their duty by filling the speech tool box, now the child can use these tools when HE chooses, placing the onus squarely on the child’s shoulders.  ouch.

The confusion and uncertainty inherent in therapy for children who stutter creates an insecure foundation for therapists.  In addition, speech therapists are under undue pressure to report progress (too often defined as fewer speech errors) in a relatively short period in order to justify continued therapy.  Parents are desperate for solutions – the idea of their child having a life-long challenge with this issue is so painful it is almost unthinkable, especially in the early years. 

So we, in turn, impose expectations on these kids that most often set them up for failure -- failure that is relentless and permeates almost every moment of this child’s world   The late Tim Field, expert on the subject of bullying in the workplace, states that a common strategy used to bully an employee is to “put the individual in a situation in which failure is almost certain.”[1]    

Have we caring adults all become unintentional bullies?

Family Lives, a charitable organization in the U.K., reports that when a disabled child is being bullied: 
-          Their condition may be reinforced or worsened.
-          They may become reluctant to mix in social situations. [2]

This was the exact outcome of Eli’s speech therapy.  His stuttering went from mild to moderate to severe (condition reinforced or worsened), and he became silent and withdrawn (reluctant to mix in social situations). 

It may seem harsh to label our actions as bullying, but the similarities around the negative impact are too concerning to ignore.  We must work together to extricate this strategy from speech therapy for kids who stutter.  We must keep them talking and keep it fun! 


Doreen (Dori Lenz Holte)
Author of Voice Unearthed: Hope, Help, and a Wake-Up Call for the Parents of Children Who Stutter

1.  Tim Field, Bully in Sight Success Unlimited (1996) p. 43


Call To Action!

I’ve heard from so many of you including speech therapists, parents, and adults who stutter who wholeheartedly agree with my concerns around introducing speech tools to children who stutter.  You share stories of the increased silence and withdrawal, depression and lack of achievement. 
You also share stories of hope, most often hinged on simply listening and helping the child to develop a life around the child’s passions instead of how they talk.  You share stories of how you kept kids talking and kept if fun. 
I love hearing those stories – it gives me hope for these kids.  Others in more influential positions need to hear your voices also.  Please connect with the powers that be, especially ASHA, to share your first-hand experiences and concerns.  They need to fully understand the front-line reality of these “evidence-based” recommendations.  Create your own message or feel free to forward any posting from my blog.  Links to ASHA include:

Unearth your voices!    Happy 2014!

Doreen (Dori) Lenz Holte
Author of Voice Unearthed: Hope, Help, and a Wake-Up Call for the Parents of Children Who Stutter