The National Stuttering Association’s recent campaign poster is unsettling to me. It states that “There are many ways to help children who stutter – doing nothing is not one of them.” While I agree whole-heartedly, I fear that this will be interpreted by a worried parent, as “just get your child to a speech therapist and then you’ve done the “something” you’re supposed to do. That was certainly the extent of our plan when our son began struggling sixteen years ago! Don’t we wish it was that simple.
Sometimes my message in Voice Unearthed is interpreted as “doing nothing is safer than doing something.” This could not be further from the truth. Parents must be aware that there are many somethings out there and some of those somethings are helpful and some of those somethings are not – if fact – they can even be harmful when it comes to treating children who stutter. Parents (and speech therapists) must educate themselves about all of the possible “somethings” and fully understand the risks and controversies around each one prior to enlisting their child in therapy.
I understand that unfortunately there are parents out there who choose to be minimally engaged in most aspects of their child’s life, and for those parents, speech therapy isn’t going to be at the top of the list. My heart goes out to those kids for reasons far beyond their challenge with speaking, but many parents do care and will embrace finding appropriate and safe support that will focus on the best long-term outcomes --- keeping their kids talking and engaged in the world around them. Many things can be done to ensure that outcome – and yes, “nothing is not one of them.”
Dori Lenz Holte