What is the best way to start a local support group for children and adults who stutter?
For adult support groups, it is best for the adults who stutter to take the lead on forming those groups. I think it is an enlightening experience for SLPs to attend some of those meetings because you can learn about stuttering. You can learn about the experiences that people who stutter have. You can learn what is important to work on from a therapeutic standpoint and get to know people who stutter better. I think the issues for adults are different than they are for children. Adults need to take the lead in starting those.
With children, I think the SLP should be an integral part of starting a support group for children. The National Stuttering Association has some groups that will help you facilitate with both adults and children. If you are interested in doing it in a more formal way, they can help you publicize it a bit more; if you want to work with them to start a local chapter. Additionally, if you work at a fairly big clinic, you can have a support group with the people who are at your facility. It depends on what setting you are looking at. I believe that support groups are invaluable when working with children who stutter because just the empowerment of meeting and seeing other children who experience the same things is beneficial for a child who stutters.
Craig Coleman, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-F, is an assistant professor at Marshall University and a Board-Certified Specialist in Fluency Disorders. Coleman is currently serving as coordinator of ASHA SIG 4 (Fluency) and as a member of the ASHA ad-hoc committee to revise the scope of practice in speech-language pathology. Craig is an adjunct instructor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Co-Director of the Stuttering U. summer program for children who stutter, their families, and SLPs.