The problem is that most University Graduate Programs do not provide adequate training in the area of stuttering. When I went to school, the Communicative Disorders department required first, an introductory course in stuttering, and then, a graduate seminar class to learn about the latest research in stuttering. We also were required to complete 25 hrs. of clinical training, working with a person who stuttered in the clinic under the supervision of the professor.
All that has changed. The American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) is responsible for setting course requirements in accredited Speech Pathology graduate programs across the country. About 15 years ago, graduate school administrators complained that they could not find enough people who stuttered to enroll in their clinics and that they could not find enough professors with expertise in stuttering to teach their courses. So what did the Association do? They got rid of the requirements for stuttering classes and clinical training in all universities. Graduate training programs can now grant a Masters Degree and Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) to students who have not even had a course in stuttering, much less any clinical training.
These same students then go to work as speech language pathologists (SLPs) in the public school system with no training in stuttering. They are mandated by Special Education laws to treat all communicative disorders, including stuttering. They are not prepared and feel inadequate when working with children who stutter, but it’s obviously not their fault – they didn’t get the the training. They are in a tough position, and try their best to help their students who stutter.
At about the same time that ASHA got rid of the requirements for stuttering training, a group of us decided to develop a Stuttering Specialist Recognition Program that provided extra training to those who wanted to work with people who stutter. As a result, there are about 100 Stuttering Specialists in the country now. Unfortunately, there are millions of children and adults who stutter in this country also.
I think that this is why many teenagers and adults have given up on stuttering treatment. Their experience in the schools and even private practice had been one failure after another.
People who stutter need to know that researchers have developed effective treatment programs for children and adults who stutter. These programs are provided by stuttering specialists like myself and the others around the country. They have the designation of ASHA – Board Certified Specialist in Fluency – BCS-F (or Board Recognition in Fluency Disorders).
Find a qualified specialist near you or come out to California to see me at the Power Stuttering Center. There is hope for people who stutter!
- Mark Power, M.A. CCC BCS-F
- ASHA Board Certified Specialist in Fluency
- Recovered Stutterer