Skip to main content

South Valley Journal

Local speech therapist offers new hope for stutterers

Aug 03, 2022 07:13PM ● By Jet Burnham

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

It is common for children between the ages of two and seven to develop a temporary stutter.

“Some kids are short term and we can fix those really quick,” said speech language therapist Jayna Collingridge, M.S., CCC-SLP. “But if it's an ongoing issue, stuttering, for the most part, isn't curable. So it's going to be a lingering issue in somebody's life.”

About 1% of the world’s population has a stutter, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder. With traditional behavioral approaches, speech therapy for stuttering could last for years. But with the Palin Parent-Child Interaction therapy, which is a cognitive-behavioral, solution-focused brief therapy, children and parents learn how to positively live with the disorder.

Collingridge loves that the new method invites children and their families to talk openly and positively about stuttering.

“If you are going to have to deal with something throughout your life, wouldn't you want to have the most positive outlook on it?” she said.

Collingridge was just one of 21 speech language pathologists worldwide invited to learn the Palin Parent-Child Interaction stuttering therapy this June at a workshop sponsored by The Stuttering Foundation and Boston University.

As the head of the speech therapy department at Providence Hall charter school, Collingridge has a caseload of 120 students, K-12, who have a range of speech and language challenges. This year, eight of them are stutterers, more than she’s ever had in one year, which inspired her to seek out additional training.

“If there's something that I think might help my students, then I absolutely want to learn it,” she said. “If there's something more that I can do to help them have a better life, then I absolutely will do it.”

The Palin PCI approach is a much different method than she’s been using for the past 24 years as a speech language pathologist.

“It has changed the way that I think about stuttering in general,” she said. “I have to consider the child, what their needs are, what the desires of the family are, but I absolutely see this being possibly life changing for certain families.”

She has already begun to implement it with clients in her private practice.

“I think this, for some people, might be all that they need,” Collingridge said. “Maybe it's just a piece of the puzzle, maybe it's something that'll be helpful, or it might be the end of someone's need for therapy. Once parents change their interaction styles, they've learned that they now have the tools to help the child communicate as effectively as possible, and it doesn't necessarily require ongoing therapy.”

            Parents are a vital part of the Palin PCI method. In her private practice, both parents are required to attend every session. However, that kind of parent involvement isn’t feasible in a school setting.

While implementing the method at Providence Hall will be more challenging, Collingridge is confident that she’ll be able to incorporate many aspects of the method and invite parents to be more involved.

Collingridge has also reached out to colleagues who work in public school districts to let them know about the new approach.

Public and private schools offer free speech and language services for students. Parents who want speech services for their child should contact their school administrator. Pre-K speech and language testing, preschool and therapy is offered for Jordan District area residents through Kauri Sue Hamilton School.

Private speech therapy is also an option. Local private practice speech and language pathologists can be found on the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s website. Collingridge said because stuttering is not a high incidence disorder, it may be more difficult to find a speech therapist that specializes in stuttering.

Children need speech language therapy for a variety of speech challenges. Collingridge said some children just need to be made aware of their speech patterns and learn some strategies. Others may need long-term speech therapy to practice strategies.

“Really, the ultimate goal is to have the child be able to communicate confidently to say what they need to say,” Collingridge said. “And if they can do that, be effective and confident with what they want to say, then, goal met, they're an effective communicator.”