Stuttering treatment is for people of all ages. Therapy is designed to meet the needs of the individual, as all people who stutter do so differently and experience the challenges uniquely. In addition to designing treatment individually, there are different ways to receive that treatment. Options include individual and group treatment, teletherapy, and weekly or intensive treatment. Freedom to Speak strives to offer state of the art treatment for all people who seek relief from stuttering. The following treatment programs are currently available:
Clinical and scientific research has confirmed that early treatment is most effective in overcoming the “stuttering syndrome”. It is at this age that the brain is most maleable and that stuttering behaviors have had the least time to establish firm, neurological construct. It is not uncommon for children who receive treatment at ages two, three and four to recover fully from the stuttering syndrome. Parents play a critical role in the recovery of their young children who stutter. Preschoolers imitate their parents in every way including speech motor patterns. Because of this, the environment and the people in it become key factors to therapeutic success.
Ms. Cochrane works directly with you and your child in your home and daycare facilities. Fluency-enhancing techniques are introduced to both parents and child. This approach to therapy empowers parents to implement and reinforce a more effortless way of speaking, thus eradicating stutter-like behaviors and creating a smoother and easier speech sound production for the child. There are several approaches to treating young children who stutter. One approach does NOT suite all children and families. With your therapist, build a program that is right for you and your child. It is never too early to begin teaching children strategies to help them "self-regulate".
Recent scientific research supports that children who stutter show biological differences in reactivity and emotional regulation. These differences are reflected in the following: quick and automatic emotional reaction, hyper-vigilance to thoughts/behaviors/desires, and less tolerance of uncertainty. In addition to these "regulation" issues, children who stutter may display weaknesses in ability to attend and use of working memory. Associated communication challenges include auditory processing and oral motor functioning. A well-designed treatment program includes objectives and strategies to address these weaknesses.
Children between the ages of 7-12 years have entered a more "social" stage of development, where they are able to recognize subtle changes in speech production. These changes in perception require changes in treatment. They are taught smooth speaking techniques, speaking modifications as well as coping strategies to deal with teasing and negative thoughts and feelings.
Family continues to be an important element in the therapeutic process. Parents are supported and encouraged in how to be most helpful to their child’s success. Peers, as well, are used to encourage and motivate each other. Teachers are instructed in the best ways to help the school-age child transfer his easier speaking skills to the school environment. Often, Susan and her colleagues conduct therapy sessions in the private therapeutic setting and at school in order to better integrate the newly acquired speaking skills.
Together; Ms. Cochrane, parents, teachers, friends and other significant people in the child’s life, create links around the child who stutters, sustaining him during this time of change. Here the children outline Ms. Cochrane and themselves. The upper torso and head are outlined and the internal parts that allow speech formation are drawn. From this the children gain an understanding of what physically happens when they speak and can begin to learn control.
This group of teens is applying "forward moving" physical and cognitive applications to "natural" social interaction. Fun and humor; as well as social interaction are used to build confidence in social situations.
Therapy for the adolescent and adult person who stutters is highly individual. The person who stutters brings to therapy with them, years of varied experiences, demanding differential approaches to treatment. Ms. Cochrane’s comprehensive treatment method includes attention to physical changes applied to the speech mechanism. Three main systems are targeted;
Time is spent on manipulation of each. Participants are then taught to smoothly coordinate the systems, resulting in a natural speech production. The amount of time directed toward each component of stuttering is dependent on individual need.
Thoughts and feelings contribute significantly to perpetuating the stuttering syndrome. With guidance and support, the adult client considers how his own beliefs and attitudes may be contributing to the stuttering syndrome. Together, with Ms. Cochrane, these elements are challenged, and gradually modified so as to sustain the physical changes made during the therapy sessions. Avoidance Reduction Therapy, Mindfulness Training, and Acceptance and Commitment Thrapy are used with adolescent and adults.
Almost immediately therapy is taken outside of the clinic into a social environment. Therapy sessions are held in restaurants, malls and stores. Clients are supported in making telephone calls and giving speeches.
Therapy may be conducted individually or in a group. Group work is often most successful, as members benefit from the insights and experiences as well as the support of others.
Culmination of the therapy process depends upon individual goals created jointly by Ms. Cochrane and the client.
State-of-the-art stuttering therapy is literally, "at your finger-tips". Teletherapy is now documented as a credible and effective means of conducting stuttering treatment. From pre-school to adult therapy, teletherapy works! Telepractice was approved by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) as an appropriate method of service delivery in 2005.
Holden (on the left), a preschooler who stutters, sits with his Mother in front of their i-pad, while Miss Susie (Susan Cochrane) guides the therapy session from 80 miles away, over the internet. Given this family's busy schedule and distance from the Freedom to Speak office, the family and Ms. Cochrane agreed that the therapy program would include teletherapy weekly, as well as a weekly in-person session. Holden is now in First Grade and stutter-free.
Braden (on the right) lives 180 miles from the Freedom to Speak office. He is a busy middle-school student enjoying sports, and an action-packed family with two younger siblings. Braden meets with Miss Susie twice weekly over the internet, managing the social and cognitive challenges stuttering brings to the older individual.