Why is participating in a support group important for people who stutter?
Support groups are critical because they allow people who stutter to see that they are not alone. It does not have to be a formal group; virtual groups are effective too. Always try to build in some stuttering support group component for any child that you work with so they can meet other children who stutter. It is critical to the process. As an adult and clinician, you can talk to them all day about stuttering, but to see another child their age going through the same situations, to build peer relationships and to work on goals and techniques outside of therapy – those are invaluable tools. The children find this to be true as well.
It is important to note that treatment groups are not the same as support groups. A treatment group is when you several children are grouped together and they work on specific goals within that group. For example, a child is working in “easy starts” in individual therapy so you add him to a group to see if he can do easy starts in group sessions as well. You may go to the group session with him to see how he does in it.
A support group does not have any formal goals. You do not charge for support groups and they should not be billed because there is no formal treatment goal to them. The purpose of support groups is to get children around other children who stutter. If they talk about stuttering, that is great. If they do not, that is okay too.
Craig Coleman is an assistant professor at Marshall University and a Board Certified Specialist in Fluency Disorders. He is a co-founder of MC Speech Books, where he has co-authored two children's books on stuttering and is also the founder of the Virtual Stuttering Center, a provider of tele-therapy for people who stutter. Craig collaborated on the child versions of the Overall Assessment of the Child's Experience of Stuttering (OASES), which assesses the affective and cognitive components of stuttering.