Fluency (or stuttering) therapy is an area that many SLPs feel under-prepared to serve. While you may have had an excellent professor on the subject in grad school, it tends to be a lower incidence population in the school setting. In my career, I have had some years without any stuttering cases at all, and the most I have had is two or three at a time. It's hard to know where to go with therapy and what materials to use when you don't have much experience with it.
Generally, I have two main things that I really focus on when working with fluency disorders.
1) I want my students to understand what stuttering is and what it is not. Ultimately, I want them to be able to advocate for themselves, and knowledge is power!
2) I want my students to learn different techniques to help them make their speech more smooth. There is no cure for stuttering, but we can make speaking easier and less stressful.
Today, I would like to share my top 8 materials that I use in stuttering therapy with my older elementary and middle school students (about 2nd grade and up).
- My Stuttering Mini Unit. I created this because I was in desperate need of a systematic way to approach therapy with my older fluency students. There are several options out there for younger students, but I had a hard time finding anything with graphics and topics appropriate for students in third grade and older. This unit is where I start with any new fluency students. I really like using the pre-test to see what exactly each student knows - or doesn't know - about stuttering. From there, it teaches some of the facts and myths about stuttering, and then introduces different fluency enhancing techniques, with activities to practice.
- I always start my therapy year by using my Articulation, Phonology, and Fluency Student Self Rating Scales. With options for both younger and older students, I feel like this gives me a much better picture of how my students view their own fluency skills - which often can be rather far off from my own outside perspective. This also helps me figure out which situations/settings may the most stressful for my students, so I can incorporate that into therapy.
- Books about stuttering. For my elementary students, I like to read the picture book called A Boy and His Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz. While I am careful to talk about how the author grew up in a different time period with different views than we have now, it's a book with a good message about overcoming the fear of speaking. The Stuttering Foundation also has a good book for younger students called, "Sometimes I Just Stutter," which is available as a free e-book. For high school students, the book, "Out With It" by Katherine Preston is a good read.
- An iPad or other video recording device. This is helpful to record students' conversational speech to review together in therapy. You can use it to identify dysfluencies or secondary characteristics, or rate how the effectiveness of different fluency enhancing techniques.
- Games with set phrases to say. For example, Uno is a great quick card game that has short phrases (ex: "I have a red four") that you can use with different fluency enhancing techniques.
- Books with short stories or poems. These are great for practicing fluency enhancing strategies, as well as talking about appropriate phrasing and pausing (especially in poetry).
- Games with more open-ended speech tasks, such as Tell Tale or Rory's Story Cubes. These are good for more conversational practice using fluency enhancing techniques.
- My Stuttering Homework Calendars. These are great for quick and easy practice at home. They come with specific directions for parents to help them understand exactly what you are working on in therapy, and how to support their child's speech at home.