Do you have a teenager who stutters? We know it can be stressful for parents to figure out ways to help and manage a stuttering teen.
When hormones run amok and pressure of academic activities ramp up, teenagers tend to behave unpredictably. Many teens become overly self-conscious. Others are driven by peer pressure and alter their beliefs and actions based on how they are treated by others at school.
This seemingly passing phase becomes a lot more complicated if it’s a teenager who stutters. Stuttering can impact a teenager’s mental health, relationships, self-esteem, quality of life, academic performance, quality of life, and everyday life.
At present, there aren’t many evidence-based stuttering treatment options for teenagers. Since stuttering varies across individuals, administering evidence-based treatments to teens is both difficult and expensive. This is the reason why AI-powered speech therapy apps such as Stamurai have been gaining popularity among stutterers worldwide.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can help a teenager who stutters. Here in this post, we will discuss exactly that.
Get to Know About Stuttering
Stuttering is a complex communication disorder. Parents of stuttering teens are often stressed out simply because they do not know about stuttering treatments, ways to overcome stuttering, etc.
The best way to understand a stuttering teen’s journey is to acquire more knowledge about stuttering. With stuttering-related facts and myths at your disposal, you will be in a much better position to understand what your teenager is going through.
The more you know the better.
Accept Your Teen’s Speech Disfluencies
This speech disorder cannot be ignored, yes.
But, Stuttering does not entirely define who your teen is.
It’s a small part of a person’s life and an even smaller part of who they might become.
However, continuous denial and avoidance can turn stuttering into a life-long struggle for your child.
Your teenager can start working on managing his speech disfluencies only after he stops asking – ‘why did this had to happen to me?’
Through acceptance, you can provide your child with an atmosphere that helps him deal with stuttering.
Teens find stuttering less challenging if they know they are loved unconditionally and accepted by their parents, siblings, and teachers.
Develop a Stuttering Teen’s Self Confidence
Create opportunities for your teen that motivate him to do better.
Does he like to play rugby? Is he good at solving puzzles? What about writing, singing, sketching, or coding?
As a parent, you will know what your child likes the most.
Find at least one hobby or skill that your teenager can focus on.
When a stuttering teen enjoys an activity and learns new things daily, he slowly grows more confident in his capabilities.
Self-confidence is the perfect anti-dote to scores of horrible experiences of bullying, teasing, discrimination, rejection, and social isolation that a stuttering teen may go through over the years.
Tell your teen about famous people who succeeded despite their speech disfluencies.
Talk to Your Teen about Stuttering
Don’t hesitate to talk to your teen about stuttering. Ignoring the elephant in the room isn’t helpful.
When you normalize discussions on stuttering, your teen will have little or no hesitation in telling you about his experiences.
Just don’t try to do it all at once.
There are occasions when stutterers become anxious or avoid social contact because of how they are treated by their friends, fellow students, and teachers.
When the lines of communication are open, you don’t have to rely on guesswork to figure out what might have gone wrong at school.
Allow a Teen to Be In Control
As a teenager transitions from a dependent kid to an independent adult, you too need to embrace your new role.
Early on, you might have advised him on how he should manage his stuttering, which words he should substitute, and how he can practice relaxed speech at home or elsewhere.
Now, it is time to slowly let him take full control of the choices he wants to make.
As an adult, you’d want him to feel responsible for managing his speech disfluencies as well as struggles that come around in the lives of stutters.
Just let him know from time to time that you are there to support and guide him no matter what.
Talk to a Speech Language Pathologist
Speech therapy isn’t a viable option for everyone.
First, many of the stuttering treatments aren’t suitable for teenagers.
Second, it isn’t always possible to get a stuttering teen to attend speech therapy sessions on a regular basis. A stuttering teen may be unwilling to cooperate or parents may find it difficult to take their teenager to a speech therapist every week.
Some parents may not be able to afford speech therapy, which can cost around $100 per session.
But, it is advisable to consult a speech language pathologist (SLP) at least once. SLPs can provide reliable diagnoses of stuttering problems. They can recommend the right treatment as well as exercises for reducing stuttering.
Let Your Child Take the Self Therapy Route if Necessary
If working with an SLP isn’t an option, help your teenager take the self therapy route. Even young kids (who can follow instructions) can make significant improvement with self-therapy for stuttering.
This way, your teenager can learn to manage stuttering at his own pace.
A stutterer can learn to be an effective communicator and a fluent speaker can be bad at communicating ideas and thoughts.
The goal of professional interventions i.e. teenage stuttering therapy or self-therapy through smartphone apps like Stamurai should be to increase both the fluency and communication skill.
No, a stutterer does not have to be 100% fluent.
While transitioning through adolescence, your teenager will experience a multitude of emotions and have varying levels of motivations while dealing with his speech disfluencies.
Try to look at all such challenges as opportunities to grow. With each hurdle, help your child become more determined to succeed in his life.