Talking Out Online is a specialist online intervention for teenagers who stammer. This shorter version of the course addresses the same areas as the full version, but only runs over 2 half day sessions.
The course is fully funded by the charity Stamma.
The group runs for 2 consecutive afternoons. It combines speech and language therapy, individual challenges, whole group and one to one work in an online format.
The aims of the intervention are to develop:
· Confidence in communicating.
· A more positive attitude to speaking.
· To decrease sensitivity to stammering.
· Problem solving and self-help skills.
· Positive thinking skills.
· A peer support network.
Talking Out Online is open to young people who stammer in secondary school (year 7 - 13, age 11 - 18) who live in the UK.
Parents and families play a key part in the group and the group includes specific sessions aimed at supporting parents.
This online course comprises 2 Saturday afternoons of speech and language therapy sessions, group games and individual challenges. This involves a combination of 'live' group sessions with all the Talking Out Online team and participants, some 'live' small group and paired work, individual tasks to complete and individual challenges to set yourself.
The speech and language therapy elements of the intervention have been designed by the specialist team Talking Out Ltd. The aim of the intervention is to improve the participants’ confidence and reduce negative reactions towards stammering, and is also designed to complement other, more traditional modes of speech and language therapy.
During the group we will complete activities that contain elements of both psychological and emotional challenge. These activities will be tailored to the group. They may lead to frustration at times but ultimately they aim to help participants develop innovative approaches to dealing with challenges through concrete experiences. It’s important to remember that these activities are designed to challenge the group members and therefore success is measured by the degree to which the individual has challenged themselves, rather than whether they completed the activity.
The aims of the course are:
Emphasis is placed on developing good communication skills; this is based on the fact that 80% of our communication is non-verbal. Skills such as good eye contact, listening skills, turn taking in conversation, facial expression and body language are practiced using role-play in a variety of situations. The course is structured to provide a hierarchy of challenges for developing confidence in speaking situations. These comprise of large and small group discussions, opportunities to express ideas and read aloud (activities which are often terrifying challenges for young people who stammer), role-plays and presentations.
Our approach aims to broaden the young person’s perspective on stammering by identifying and analysing both physical manifestations and the psychological/emotional factors involved. Identifying the problems and sharing with others helps the individual to decrease sensitivity to stammering, allowing him/her to focus on the positive aspects of their own communication.
Young people who stammer face many challenges. The course focuses on developing the individual’s ability to analyse situations, generate ideas to solve the problem and select the best solution for them. This is achieved through the group sessions, games and self-directed challenges.
A step-by-step approach is used to enable the young people to identify unhelpful thoughts (the negative self talk that we use when we feel upset threatened, afraid or anxious). Young people are then assisted in analysing their unhelpful thoughts and changing them to helpful ones.
We use a variety of outcome measures including situation questionnaires, our own graded scales that cover both the physical behaviours of stammering and feelings/attitudes towards speaking, from the point of view of both the individual and the parents. These scales are completed at, before and after the course.
The course takes into account the impact stammering has on the developmental issues involved in adolescence. These include :
Adolescence is a time for increasing independence and developing individuality. Our course encourages each person to take responsibility for managing their stammer by giving choices and encouraging flexibility, so that each person learns to recognise what they need to do in order to make a difference to their speech and how they feel about it.
A young person who stammers can feel very isolated due to their difficulties in communicating. At a time when good friendships are vitally important, our course provides an opportunity to meet other with the same difficulty. Sharing thoughts and feelings is essential in developing a positive attitude to speaking and increasing confidence.
Young people are often concerned about exams, future employment and relationships. Our work on positive thinking helps each individual to recognise any negative thoughts in relation to the above and change them.
If stammering is not addressed at this vital time in a person’s life, there can be negative implications for self-esteem and confidence which can lead to a failure of the individual to meet their potential, both socially and in the working environment. Addressing the difficulties now will decrease the need for ongoing speech and language therapy in adult life.
Our specialist course is designed to encompass a holistic approach appropriate for young people. The course enables young people to:
Young people who stammer often underachieve in school by avoiding speaking situations. The course addresses these problems.
The structure of the course offers young people a rare opportunity to work on their communication skills in a supportive environment led by a skilled team of specialist therapists who are experienced in the running of intensive courses.
A 30 minute 1:1 pre-group appointment will be held online before the beginning of the group. This will take place as an individual appointment via Microsoft Teams.
This is an essential session, which all participants must attend. It allows participants to meet the Talking Out Team. We can give you important information about the group and complete our initial assessments.
The group will meet online using Microsoft Teams You will be sent details about how to join online sessions before the group starts.
There will be an online parent sessions for 1 hour at end of each day. These will take place at 4pm. During these sessions parents will meet online with the Speech and Language Therapy Team.
Saturday 2nd and 9th March, 1-4pm (young people), 4-5pm (parents)