Category Archives: Stuttering

Let’s Go Bowling: Supporting Communication at the Bowling Alley

It might seem odd that I’m writing a post about bowling on a beautiful, sunny spring day when most people are thinking about spending time outside, but it’s always good to think of activities we can do when the weather isn’t so great (in fact this holiday weekend, the forecast in northern NJ is all rain!).  Bowling to the rescue!  There is actually a great nationwide program for children to enjoy bowling all summer long — for free — called Kids Bowl Free.  Although adults don’t have the option to bowl completely free, there are package options where parents, grandparents, caregivers, etc. can bowl with their children at a significantly reduced cost.

Now that you know about the Kids Bowl Free program, I’m sure you’re wondering what on Earth bowling has to do with supporting communication. Am I right?  It’s not the first activity that comes to mind when you think of supporting communication; however, bowling is a social activity and any social activity is a great opportunity to encourage communication.  The best thing about bowling is that it can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, so any person, young or old, regardless of communication level or type of disability, can enjoy some time at the bowling alley and practice his/her skills.

At the bowling alley, we can support communication by:

  • Socializing with existing friends and making new ones
  • Practicing sharing and taking turns (e.g., It’s your turn.)
  • Talking about colors, shapes and sizes (e.g., red ball, round ball, big ball)
  • Learning about sequence (e.g., I go first, you go next, he goes last.)
  • Using exclamations (e.g., Strike! Good job!)
  • Talking about what’s happening (e.g., The pins fell down.  The ball rolled down the lane.)

That’s just a few ways you can work on communication skills at the bowling alley.  What indoor activities do you enjoy for practicing communication skills?


Introduction to Telepractice

Telepractice (AKA telemedicine, teletherapy, telehealth, telespeech, telerehabiliation, virtual speech therapy) is the delivery of health services via a telecommunications system. This service model is becoming increasingly more popular in the fields of speech-language pathology and audiology. Large factors that have driven the use of telepractice are reducing travel time for the client and/or professional and expanding the reach of services. Telepractice is becoming a more widely used and accepted method of providing speech-language pathology and audiology services. However, many families are skeptical that the services provided through a computer could be beneficial or equally as productive as those provided face-to-face. Despite family reservations, researchers (e.g., Gorgan-Johnson and colleagues) have found that children receiving virtual speech therapy do as well as those receiving services in person.

Benefits of Telepractice

  • Decreases the rate of cancelations or no shows
    • Sessions can still occur in bad weather or when the speech-language pathologist (SLP) or client are sick.
  • Allows underserved populations to receive evaluations and treatment
    • Individuals living in rural towns may struggle to find local in-person services for their needs. Furthermore, individuals from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds may struggle to find appropriate services in their area. By using telepractice, these clients are able to receive the services they deserve.
  • Increases family involvement in the sessions
    • Family members can have a more active involvement by assisting clients with the session activities.
  • Increases interest or attention with clients that are motivated by and/or more comfortable in front of computers
    • Clients may be more engaged during their sessions because they enjoy being on the computer. They may also feel more comfortable asking and answering questions and performing difficult tasks with the computer screen as a safety net.
  • Allows clients to connect with professionals who specialize in their disorder or disability and/or can provide services in their native language
    • Speech-language pathology is a broad field. Although all SLPs receive some degree of training in all aspects of speech, language, and swallowing disorders, most  specialize in certain areas over areas.  For example, some SLPs may specialize in working with children with autism while others may have extensive training in treating adults who have aphasia. In addition, the majority of SLPs are monolingual and/or do not have the training to provide appropriate services to a bilingual client.
  • Makes sharing information easier
    • Clients and SLPs can share their computer screens and upload files to enhance the therapy session.
  • Helps clients and families to remember and understand what occurred during the session
    • Virtual therapy sessions can be recorded (with permission) and used for later review. By recording the sessions, clients and family members can watch what occurred. Watching the recordings assists clients with practice and carryover of skills. Moreover, watching previously recorded sessions allows everyone to observe the progress that has occurred.

How can we help?

At Liberty Speech Associates LLC, we provide telepractice sessions for the following purposes: accent modification, counseling, speech-language evaluations and treatment, speech-language screenings, and collaboration with related professionals. For more information on our telepractice services, contact us today.


  1. Grogan-Johnson, S., Alvares, R., Rowan, L., & Creaghead, N. (2010). A pilot study comparing the effectiveness of speech language therapy provided by telemedicine with conventional on-site therapy. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 16(3), 134139.
  2. Grogan-Johnson, S., Gaebel, R., Taylor, J., Rowan, L. E., Alvares, R., & Schenk er, J. (2011). A pilot exploration of speech sound disorder intervention delivered by telehealth to school-age children. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 3(1), 3141.
  3. Grogan-Johnson, S., Schmidt, A. M., Schenker, J., Alvares, R., Rowan, L. E., & Taylor, J. (2013). A comparison of speech sound intervention delivered by telepractice and side-by-side service delivery models. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 34(4), 210220.

5 Tips for Communicating with Students who Stutter


School is finally back in session! With every new school year come new stresses, expectations, and faces. In speaking to a few teacher colleagues and friends, it’s become apparent that teachers are often not taught how to communicate with students with disabilities, particularly students who stutter. Without this knowledge, both students and teachers are put in an uncomfortable situation. For that reason, I decided to write this blog post to provide teachers with 5 tips on communicating with students who stutter and, in turn, help all students feel more comfortable speaking in the classroom. This blog post is based off of my YouTube video 5 Stuttering Tips for Teachers.


Here are the 5 tips:

1) Avoid saying, “slow down” or “think about what you want to say”


  • This is probably the most important of the 5 tips. Stuttering is not an issue of speaking too quickly or not thinking, so using these phrases with a student who stutters will have no positive effect. In fact, using these phrases may cause frustration or anxiety for the student who stutters. 



2) Don’t complete your student’s sentence/thought


  • If your student is in the midst of a stutter, completing his sentence/thought is not going to help the situation. Your student has his own unique thoughts and ideas and likely wants to share them like any other student. Although it may take a student who stutters longer to express himself, doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be afforded the opportunity. The best thing you can do as a teacher is to be patient and give the student ample time to speak. 


3) Give your student an opportunity to educate his peers about stuttering


  • Unfortunately many children with disabilities are bullied or mocked because their peers don’t understand their situations. It could be helpful to do lessons on disabilities and/or acceptance, as well as allow your student who stutters to present or do a project on the topic. 



4) Monitor your own body language when communicating with a student who stutters


  • You may feel uncomfortable communicating with your student who stutters because you don’t know how to help. If you feel this way, it could be evidenced in your body language by avoiding eye contact, looking away, etc., so be mindful of how you are reacting to the stutter both verbally and nonverbally. 



5) Model slow, relaxed speech


  • By modeling slow, relaxed speech your student may feel more comfortable communicating with you and may also try and imitate your rate which, in turn, may have a positive effect on the student’s stuttering episode.



I hope you find these tips helpful in communicating with your students who stutter. Please leave a comment with tips you’ve found to be the most helpful when communicating and interacting with students with disabilities.


Is it Apraxia?

Apraxia, also known as childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), has become the go-to diagnosis for many children in Early Intervention (under 3 years of age). However, many of these children do not have apraxia or are too young to receive a true diagnosis. So what is apraxia?


Apraxia is a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult for a person to coordinate the movements of the mouth for speech. Apraxia can occur in children or adults, but for the purpose of this post, I will focus on CAS. There is some debate over the exact diagnostic features of CAS, but some commonly described symptoms are:
  • Inconsistent errors 
  • Inappropriate prosody 
  • Vowel errors 
  • Limited inventory of consonants and vowels 
  • Increased difficulty with longer, more complex words and utterances


Additionally, children with CAS tend to be “late talkers;” however, late talking in and of itself does not warrant a diagnosis of CAS. As can be seen by the aforementioned symptoms, the characteristics of CAS are described with regards to talking, so if a child is not yet talking or not talking much, a clear diagnosis of CAS cannot be made. In fact, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association goes so far as to say that “diagnosis below age 3 is best categorized under a provisional diagnostic classification, such as ‘CAS cannot be ruled out,’ ‘signs are consistent with problems in planning the movements required for speech,’ or ‘suspected to have CAS.’ 

If you have concerns with any aspect of your child’s speech or language development, it is suggested that you contact a local speech-language pathologist so that a thorough evaluation can be completed.