Trying to tackle any speech goal from a distance is tricky for many school SLPs these days. But doing fluency therapy distance learning takes it to a whole new level. Here are a few stuttering teletherapy ideas and general distance learning tricks to help you plan for your kids who stutter.
1. Get parents involved
Parent education is a pretty important component to stuttering therapy anyway. Since students are at home, you actually may have an advantage of being able to stay in more contact with the parents than you typically would at school. This is a great time to offer support and answer questions they may have.
When working with parents and family in general, you want to teach them how to modify their environment and communication techniques. I tell them about the risk factors for stuttering and tips for the home environment.
Grab parent letters, handouts, and daily fluency trackers and send home to help them implement those changes. I even made a “rules” poster for parents as well as teachers to just help with good basic communication skills because it’s not always as common sense to everyone that it is to us.
Essentially, we want parents to learn to slow their rate a little when speaking around the child and then to reduce the verbal demands that they place on them. We want them to respond to their child in a calm manner and model effective responses to difficulties in general. It’s OK to make mistakes – in life and in speaking.
2. Keep their same stuttering therapy routines
Even though you may not be able to do everything the exact same way you would face-to-face, you can try to keep as many same routines as you can. Some routines I might keep in place could include:
- Working through their fluency binder (maybe do a doorstep drop if they don’t have theirs with them or let them start a new binder)
- Relaxation exercises
- Fluency journal review (you can also grab this one for free in the resource library)
- Education review: speech machine, strategies, vocabulary, myths, etc.
- Practicing techniques through play or with others
This is a great time to let them lead the conversation and tell you what’s on their mind. Let them show you things in their rooms or around their house. Get to know them better and find out more things they’re interested in.
3. Discuss feelings and emotions
It might be a little less intimidating for them to discuss feelings and emotions across a teletherapy screen than in person. Use this time to have some good heart to heart talks about what’s going on in the world, in their family, or with their speech.
Problem solving isn’t just for stuttering. They can apply the skills you teach them in lots of areas of life. You can easily make that transition from how we handle problems that stuttering may cause to problems they may encounter in their day to day life and visa versa.
Get started by coming up with a list of questions to ask or by having a worksheet page to fill out. I really like this resource by Kristin Chmela that addresses the feelings and emotions aspects of stuttering.
4. Practice carry-over
What better time is there to practice carrying-over their fluency strategies and techniques than now? Sometimes fluency might vary across environments, so take some good notes on how they’re doing in the home environment. You can finally see that first hand.
You can also use this time to teach independence and self-advocacy. Talk about situations that may arise at home and how they can advocate for themselves. Maybe they want to speak up and tell their family ways that will help them (like not interrupting, for example). Maybe they want to come up with a hand signal to remind family members to wait while they get through a stutter.
Even though they might not be able to go out into the community, encourage them to practice their techniques by making phone calls or attending online face chats. As always, I encourage my students to share what we did in therapy that day with their family as an added way to check for understanding and reinforce skills.
5. Digital resources
I just want to point out that you do not have to have a stash of specific fluency digital resources in order to have effective stuttering teletherapy. You can use a variety of low tech resources and worksheets and modify them for your students across the screen.
If you are looking for some, however, here are a few go-to resources and activities for me.
- Fluency task cards – These cards cover many areas of stuttering therapy including educational, emotional, and strategy practice. They are digital and interactive and are a great piece to add to your toolbox.
- Fluency binder – You can easily put some of the worksheet pages from the fluency binder on the screen and go through them together that way. I love just sending/emailing pages home for my students to print and complete during therapy. Then, they can easily add them to their binder.
- Screen sharing pictures – It’s easy to find silly pictures on Google images to screen share and spark conversation. You can also find real pictures of the speech mechanism to talk about.
- Screen sharing videos – YouTube is full of videos for story retell (like Simon’s Cat) or even of people who stutter. You can also check out videos on techniques like these from Stuttering Therapy Resources.
I hope some of these ideas make your fluency distance learning and stuttering teletherapy endeavors a little bit easier! Definitely check out my free resource library for some handouts and activities that you can easily use right now!