Group for Kids Who Stutter Reaches Milestone
Longest-Running Support Program in U.S. Celebrates 100th Meeting
Dec. 10, 2009
The UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders celebrated a major milestone last week when the Youth Experience Stuttering Support (YESS) program convened for its 100th meeting.
YESS is the longest-running support group in the country for children who stutter. The program is for children ages 6 to 13 years and their parents.
“I created the program nine years ago to give children who stutter an opportunity to meet other kids with the same speech disorder,” said Tricia Krauss-Lehrman, speech-language pathologist and board-recognized fluency specialist. “I already had experience working with support group programs for adults who stutter, and I saw how beneficial it was for the adults to meet others just like them. I wanted to provide the same opportunity for children and their parents.”
During each monthly session, the children and their parents break off into separate groups and focus on a variety of topics, including improving self-esteem, overcoming negative thinking and coping with teasing.
The program aims to help the children learn more about stuttering, realize they are not alone, feel good about themselves and have fun. The program also assists the parents by providing education, emotional support and a sense of empowerment.
“Since the first meeting, the children have always been really excited and interested in meeting other kids who stutter. But what surprised me the most was how excited the parents have been to finally have an opportunity to talk with other parents as well as knowledgeable professionals,” said Krauss-Lehrman. “Oftentimes, parents feel lost and don’t know what to do. Our program helps guide them in the right direction.”
Graduate students enrolled in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences’ master’s program in communication disorders assist Callier Center clinicians with the program. Together, they provide the parents with tips on how to best manage their child’s stuttering both inside and outside of the home, as well as help the parents identify and support realistic expectations for their child.
“Although parents have the best of intentions, some of what they do instinctively with their kids who stutter is not beneficial,” said Krauss-Lehrman. “The parents often want their kids to practice their speech therapy techniques all the time, when in reality, they need to realize that the children need home to be a ‘safe place’ where they have the chance to ‘let down’ and relax.”
The program is currently free of charge. It meets the last Thursday of each month from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Callier Center’s Richardson location. To register or learn more about the program, contact Tricia Krauss-Lehrman at 214-905-3136.
YESS is funded by the Burtis/Vogel Community Service Award and the George W. and Lorena Briggs Fund at The Dallas Foundation.