Clinical Services at the Stuttering Center

At the Stuttering Center, assessment and treatment procedures vary on a case-by-case basis depending on the needs of each individual and family. As an example, a diagnostic evaluation or treatment visit may include:

Diagnostic Evaluations

A diagnostic evaluation for a child who stutters typically begins when parents complete an intake form. Parents receive the form in the mail prior to the evaluation or at the time of their appointment. Parents' responses aid clinicians in tailoring the evaluation to the child's needs. (To download intake form, see Forms.)

Evaluations include a detailed interview with parents or caregivers--and with the child if he or she is old enough. For preschool and young school-age children, the child is usually observed interacting with a family member to give the clinician an opportunity to listen to the child's natural speech patterns. Observation is typically followed by play-based interaction with the clinician to evaluate the child's fluency in a variety of situations. Clinicians also examine the child's attitudes toward communication and any other behaviors associated with the child's stuttering.

For older children, an interview is usually conducted with the child to determine if he or she is a candidate for treatment and to determine how stuttering affects the child's social and educational opportunities.

After the assessment, the clinician discusses the findings with the parents and the child and provides appropriate treatment recommendations.

Treatment

Following the evaluation, several individualized recommendations may be made:

For preschool children, fluency and communication may be monitored over time, or treatment may be recommended immediately. Treatment for preschool and young school-age children is based on the Family-Focused Treatment Approach described by Stuttering Center staff in the ASHA Journal Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools (Yaruss, Coleman, & Hammer, 2006; LSHSS, 37, 118-136).

This approach includes two primary components: parent-focused treatment based on a Parent/Child Training Program (PCTP) and child-focused treatment that directly involves the child. In the PCTP, parents are taught techniques for facilitating their child's fluent speech in the home environment. Following the PCTP, the child may be discharged and monitored, or if necessary, more direct child-focused treatment may be recommended. To receive additional information about our preschool program, please contact Dr. Yaruss at jsyaruss@pitt.edu.

School-age children and adolescents face unique challenges as learn they to cope with their stuttering. As children grow older, it becomes increasingly important to involve them in the decision-making process for treatment. If older children are not ready to participate in treatment, progress is likely to be minimal. Most children will reach a point in their lives when they want help for their stuttering, so it is better to wait until they are ready to be active participants rather than forcing them into therapy that will not be successful and may foster a negative opinion about the therapy process.

Treatment for this age group generally focuses on helping the child or adolescent: (a) speak more fluently, (b) reduce physical tension or secondary behaviors associated with stuttering, (c) become more proficient at communication in general, and most importantly, (d) develop healthy, appropriate communication attitudes.

Scheduling and Evaluation and Treatment

To schedule evaluations and treatment for children who stutter, calling Central Scheduling at Children's Hospital at (412) 692-5580.

Services for adults who stutter can be scheduled by contacting J. Scott Yaruss, Ph.D., Director of the Stuttering Center, at (412) 383-6538 or jsyaruss@pitt.edu