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Practical Thoughts Blog

What materials or programs should I use for an adolescent or adult who stutters?

What materials or programs should I use for an adolescent or adult who stutters?

A recent post asked about what specific materials should be used in therapy with adolescents and adults who stutter. The person pointed out that the vast majority of clinical materials on the market are for young children or school-age children. Indeed, it’s true there just isn't much out there for adolescents and adults in terms of materials and exercises.

I think the reason for this is that there's really not much need for such materials with older clients. I have worked with adolescents and adults who stutter for more than 25 years, and I've never really felt the need for special materials (like I might with the kids, though even there, I don't use many). Instead, I like to use whatever is real in their lives as our practice materials.

For example, I was recently working with a person who is a computer software designer and manager. His practice materials are the white papers that he needs to read and write for the product his team is developing. We do desensitization activities, stuttering management strategies, and fluency enhancing techniques using the materials that he's working with on a daily basis. This makes the therapy more meaningful to him, and it makes it easier for him to have what he needs for practice out in the real world in between sessions.

I have another client who loves old houses. It's not her job; just a hobby. So, she practices when she is perusing the for-sale listings and reading about renovations.

I tease that I live my life vicariously through my clients. I have never played golf, but I know a ton about golf from my clients. I haven't ever watched a soccer game, but my international clients have taught me a lot about futbol. I recently had a client from India who reads the Indian news to me, then discusses it with me for his practice. Clients enjoy this type of practice because it's real to them and it helps a lot with generalization.

So, when seeking materials for an adolescent or adult, the first question I would ask is, What's he into? Video games? Oh man, I know all about Skyrim, though I've never had the chance to play. I'm great at Minecraft even though I've never even downloaded it. If your client is in to history, art, sports, musicwhateverthen that becomes the topic of practice.

AND, the clients then have the experience of building their own practice materials. Time for drill work? I have them create a practice worksheet with me using words from their real lives (guitar, amp, cables, fader, mixer, effects, solo, etc...)

It's maybe a bit of a different way of working on it, because we as a field are very accustomed to using materials, but the material that I use the most is just the words that my clients and I share while we're chatting. It's interesting for me, and it's helpful for them. Win-win!