Smooth speech program to control stuttering
People in the Hunter region who experience the frustrating speech disorder stuttering, now have access to a specialised treatment program run by the University of Newcastle.
The University of Newcastle Speech Pathology clinic is currently the only dedicated service in the Hunter region for adolescents and adults who stutter.
Dr Sally Hewat, Lecturer in Speech Pathology, said the program was designed to help people control their stuttering.
Stuttering is a disorder which interrupts the flow of speech. It can cause anxiety and extreme frustration as people struggle to express themselves.
About 200,000 Australians stutter. Treatment programs are critically important to help people control their speech and provide confidence in dealing with everyday situations such as talking on the phone.
Dr Hewat said the program provided speech pathology students with supervised clinical experience in the area of stuttering assessment, treatment and maintenance.
"Students will be responsible for providing treatment and will demonstrate techniques to prevent the stuttering from occurring.
"As well as increasing fluency, we are also aiming to make people's new-found fluency sound as normal or natural as possible.
"It is very important that when people are fluent, they do not feel self-conscious about how they sound, otherwise they will choose to stutter, rather than be fluent."
Pre-school aged children (two - six years) will be treated weekly using the internationally recognised Lidcombe Program for Early Stuttering. Adolescent and adult clients will participate in the La Trobe Smooth Speech Program. A program for adults is underway at the moment, with another one for adolescents planned for July. The clinic also hopes to extend the treatment services to school-aged children in 2008.
Dr Hewat said that one of challenges for people who stutter, was maintaining fluency after treatment. She hopes to help establish a Newcastle branch of the Australian Speak Easy Association to provide ongoing support.
Dr Hewat is a principal investigator on a National Health and Medical Research Council funded research program which aims to develop innovative treatments and service delivery models for people who cannot access treatment services. People attending the clinic may also be invited to take part in the research.
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