Breakthrough23 Jan 2006
On weekends, Christopher likes to wake us up. He'll crawl under the covers between us, crouch together for a few seconds, then suddenly spring up, taking the covers with him, and shouting "Surprise!" Typical kid stuff. Last weekend he had a real surprise for us in bed. Out of the blue he said, "When I grow, I won't stutter any more." It was the first time we heard him use the word stutter.
The next day it got even better. Our "homework" assignment was to explain Christopher's stuttering and progress to a trusted adult. Christopher didn't need to participate in the conversation, but he needed to be present. The idea is to make him comfortable with discussing it openly, not to feel ashamed or embarrassed.
We were in a restaurant with his old Tagesmutter, and we started explained how his words sometimes hop before they some out and what he has learned to do when that starts to happen. Then Christopher chimed right in and started describing the different techniques he has learned. There is rubber-band speech, tractor speech and race-car speech. There is frog speech (a syllable hops three times) and snake speech, each in slow and fast variations. He demonstrated them all, and make us repeat after him. It's now easy if you've never practiced, and he delighted in pointing out our mistakes.
At our next appointment with the therapist we discovered how he had opened up. The two of them together had taken a large piece of paper and drawn a path of his progress the past 18 months, and his goal for this summer (which is to get thrown out the window on the last day... that's the tradition they have for the children that will be starting school). The path was full of twists and turns and had various triumphs and obstacles along the way. Christopher is very good at visualizing streets and maps, he can point out Australia and Florida on the globe. The point he seemed to pick up is that if you get stuck, it's OK to take a detour. You don't have to go forward all time... sometimes you have to back up and take another route.