Why Do Some People Stutter More Outside of Speech Therapy Than During Therapy?
Updated: Jan 12
Have you ever experienced a situation where one of your clients could say a particular word or phrase without stuttering during therapy but then experienced difficulty saying that exact word or phrase outside of therapy? If so, you’re not alone. This phenomenon is often a surprise to people who stutter and can be perplexing to speech-language pathologists as well. Let’s take a look at some of the possible causes behind this intriguing issue.
One possible cause for this discrepancy between stuttering inside and outside of therapy is related to the environment in which your clients are used to speaking. During therapy, they are in a relaxed atmosphere with someone they trust and feel comfortable with—you! In contrast, outside of therapy, there may be any number of factors that can affect their speech, such as environmental noise or an unfamiliar audience. The unfamiliarity or discomfort created by these factors can trigger stuttering in clients who are otherwise able to speak without difficulty during their session with you.
The Focused Attention
Another potential cause could be related to the focused attention that your clients receive during therapy sessions. When working one-on-one with an SLP, your clients know they have your full attention. Your client will likely feel more comfortable taking risks when trying out new techniques or strategies you have discussed together. This focused attention allows them to practice these new strategies and feel confident about them before attempting them in public settings.
Over-Dependence on Speech Strategies
Lastly, it could be argued that some individuals become over-reliant on certain speech strategies, such as slowing down their speech rate or going around words instead of saying them during their speech therapy sessions. This may work well for them within the confines of the session but not so much outside of it. As such, SLPs need to focus on teaching techniques that clients can apply naturally in real-life conversations. It is important to figure out the best way for your client to manage stuttering situations outside of therapy.
No matter the cause of clients stuttering on words said in therapy, SLPs need to remember that each individual’s experience is unique. This must be considered when developing treatment plans. With careful observation and support from SLPs, individuals who stutter can progress inside and outside their sessions.
**Special Announcement For SLPs***
If you are looking for more stuttering therapy tips, I am excited to announce the launch of our brand-new Preschool Stuttering Course! Designed by me, Lori Melnitsky, a speech pathologist with over 30 years of experience and someone who has lived with stuttering my entire life. This course contains practical tips and insights into effectively treating preschool-aged stuttering. Through this comprehensive course, participants will gain a deeper understanding of stuttering in young children, recognize signs of developmental stuttering, and learn how to implement treatment strategies tailored to each child's individual needs. Don't miss this unique opportunity to get first-hand advice from an experienced clinician who understands both sides of the issue. The course will be available on January 18th!