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Marlene Lewis and stuttering treatment for children

Marlene LewisMarlene Lewis

I am honoured to have been asked to write an article for the Canadian Stuttering Association. My experience with self-help and advocacy groups like the BC Association of People Who Stutter (now dissolved) and CSA is that they provide an invaluable resource for people who stutter as well as for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) who want to serve people who stutter.

I am a speech-language pathologist who began my career in 1980 and am still very active in that career. For the past 38 years I have worked with preschool children, served as a provincial program and policy consultant and currently have my own private practice.

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The benefits of summer camp for children who stutter

felix Felix

Two years ago, my son Felix (pictured at left) was nine years old and developing an increasingly pronounced stutter. Ever since he could speak, he would go through months of relatively fluent speech, followed by weeks of severe disfluency. I wasn’t worried. I focused on what he had to say, not on how he was saying it. But one day at the library, Felix got stuck on a word and couldn’t ask for a title of a book. This kid, who has always arranged his own play dates by phone and once called Canada’s top Olympic Archery coach to ask about lessons, cried and asked me for help. I knew then that I’d been denying how much Felix’s stutter was affecting him.

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Brain development in children who stutter

A new study by a University of Alberta researcher shows that children who stutter have less grey matter in key regions of the brain responsible for speech production than children who do not stutter. See more at University of Alberta news.

Beal Deryk Beal, ISTAR Executive Director

The primary researcher is Deryk Beal, ISTAR’s executive director. Previous research has used MRI scans to look at structural differences between the brains of adults who stutter and those who do not.

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Book about boy who stutters a moving read


Paperboy is a story about an 11 year old boy who stutters. It is part memoir and part fiction, written by Vince Vawter. For over 60 years the author “stuttered fiercely, sometimes gently” yet he was able to overcome his speech impediment and lead a successful career in newspapers. The backdrop of the novel is Memphis 1959 – segregation is the norm. Two major themes explored in Paperboy are the speech challenge the protagonist experiences, and the racial tension in the South.

As a person who stutters, I was able to relate to the Paperboy’s inner turmoil. Overwhelmed by speaking, the Paperboy substitutes words. He calls his best friend "Rat" because it is easier to say. He blocks on words and cannot say his name. He also feels ashamed when he can not order food at a restaurant, and everyone at his table laughs.

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Stuttering and Preschoolers


A discussion of the paper A Natural History of Stuttering to 4 Years of Age: A Prospective Community-Based Study, by Sheena Reilly, PhD; Mark Onslow, PhD; Ann Packman, PhD; Eileen Cinia; Laura Conway; Obioha C. Ukoumunne, PhD; Edith L. Bavin, PhD; Margot Prior, PhD; Patricia Eadie, PhD, Susan Block, PhD; and Melissa Wake, MD. Published in Pediatrics, online August 26, 2013

An Australian Research Centre has recently published results of a study examining the onset of stuttering and its effects on preschoolers, up to age 4. The controversial results, and the circulation of the study in the media, have attracted widespread attention.

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