What does therapy for stammering look like?

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There are a number of different therapy approaches that are used by Speech and Language Therapists, and they will be best placed to talk you through the approach they are using when working with your child. 

In this section, we provide an overview of the two broad approaches to therapy for childhood stammering. 

1. Indirect Therapy

These approaches focus more on the child's environment and tend to be used with younger children. They involve working closely with the parents and family to creative a communication friendly environment.

For children under 5 years old it can be enough for parents to make changes to the way they talk with their child and to make some changes to home life to help the child with a stammer. This might include: letting them finish their sentences themselves, commenting on what they are talking about rather than how they are saying it, avoiding criticisms and taking calm, clear turns when talking as a family.

Parent-Child Interaction (PCI) sessions aim to look closely at interactions between the child and adults. Together a therapist and parent/s will discuss the strategies the parents are already using to support and facilitate their child's communication. The idea is that parents are already using helpful strategies everyday but might not always be aware of what is making the difference. Sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes and to look at an interaction slowed down on a recording, to see that parents are using helpful strategies already.

2. Direct Therapy 

These approaches tend to involve working directly with the child and may focus on specific fluency techniques as well as building a child's confidence in communicating. 

For school-aged children, they may work more directly on smooth talking techniques, being confident communicators and understanding the impact of a stammer on their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. 

As teenagers and young adults, it may be helpful to work on self-advocacy skills, for example being able to confidently tell others how they can help someone in the work place, be successful communicators and ensure that their stammer does not affect their goals.

Group therapy can be recommended for older children and adults as a way to share experiences and strategies with other individuals who stammer. Group therapy can also be a safe place to practise therapy strategies, with a wider range of people who understand what it is like to have a stammer. 

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