One of the greatest joys of the helping fields and education is the ability to impact lives. As a school-based Speech Language Pathologist, I had helped hundreds of children improve their speech sound production, become more fluent speakers and express their thoughts more clearly, concisely and accurately. I am continuing in this vein as a private practitioner and Early Interventionist. However, as I prepare to spend a week in Boston learning more about "Cognitive Interventions for People Who Stutter" through The Stuttering Foundation, I have been thinking about other joys this field provides—professional and lifelong learning.
Almost 10 years ago, I was one of 21 applicants chosen by The Stuttering Foundation to participate in the week-long workshop: "Treating Children and Adolescents Who Stutter." At the time I applied for this workshop, I was working in the public schools and had four children on my caseload who stuttered. I had very little hands-on experience treating children who stutter and consequently, not much confidence in my ability to provide appropriate, effective treatment. The Stuttering Foundation’s workshop was truly a life-changing experience. As a result of the skills and knowledge I obtained through that workshop, I became much more effective and confident working with children who stutter. I became the “go-to” person for the ten other speech therapists in the school district, presenting to them to share the information I had obtained at the workshop and consulting with them on an individual basis when they had questions or concerns about stuttering. I also presented to teachers in the school district on how to work with students who stutter in their classrooms.
Because stuttering is a multi-faceted speech disorder, effective treatment for stuttering goes beyond teaching fluency-enhancing strategies and techniques. Other concerns also need to be considered such as the individual’s knowledge of stuttering, feelings toward communication, language formulation and social interaction. Cognitive behavioral therapy is another key area for me to learn more about and address with my clients who stutter. This workshop should enable me to learn more about cognitive or “thinking” approaches, such as helping individuals reframe negative self-talk into self-talk that is positive and helpful.
I am honored and grateful for this opportunity to learn more about cognitive behavioral approaches to treating people who stutter. I look forward to improving my professional skills in this very important area.
Joanne Summer, MA, CCC-SLP, a speech-language pathologist based in Morristown, NJ, has helped hundreds of children improve their speech sound production and language skills. She founded Well Spoken Speech Therapy, LLC, in 2014 after spending 12 years providing therapy to children (K-5) in the New Jersey public school system. In private practice, her clients also include younger children and adolescents. In addition, she treats people of all ages who stutter or otherwise find it difficult to speak fluently—an area in which she has received extensive specialized training.