At the end of August 2016 a social-educational campaign ‘Labyrinths of Communication’ was organized at the University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. The International Fluency Association was one of the partners of this event. ‘Labyrinths of Communication’ was a series of various events accompanying the Second Edition of the International Conference on Logopedics titled: ‘Fluency Disorders: Theory and Practice’.
As part of this campaign, the following events took place: pre- and post-conference workshops for speech-language pathologists, an open forum for teachers, open meetings for children who stutter and their parents, as well as the Annual Convention of the Polish Stuttering Association ‘Ostoja’.
The event which opened this year’s edition was a two-day workshop ‘Palin Parent-Child interaction Therapy for children under 7 who stutter’. This was the first time this approach has been taught in Poland. The course was run in Polish by Katarzyna Wesierska from the University of Silesia and supervised by a specialist from the Michael Palin Centre in London. More than 40 Polish SLTs participated in this workshop. Bogumila Wilk, MA who was one of the participants summed up the workshop with these words: I was familiar with the Palin PCI method before since I read the Polish version of the manual. However, thanks to my participation in this workshop I was able to deeply understand the role of the SLP in this approach. Now I believe that my job is to strengthen the parents, bolster them and together look for what works…
The programme of the two-day conference included lectures by keynote speakers and presentations delivered by excellent specialists, practitioners and leaders of self-help groups interested in fluency disorders. Among of the conference guests were not only outstanding specialists in the field fluency disorders (like Florence Myers, Isabella Reichel, Martine Vanryckeghem or Jane Harley), but also researchers from Poland and neighboring countries (like Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic) as well as representatives of consumers – persons who stutter and clutter (Benny Ravid – the honorary president of AMBI – Israel Stuttering Association, Rutger Wilhelm – the chair of Consumers Committee of the International Cluttering Association and Zdzisław Gładosz – the president of Polish Stuttering Association ‘Ostoja’).Throughout the whole conference – in presentations, panel sessions, mini-seminars, workshops and poster sessions – stuttering and cluttering issues were widely represented. Especially for this conference an international research team (Austria / Sweden, Poland, Slovakia and the US) has developed multilingual preventive materials in the form of a leaflet and poster related to early intervention in stuttering. With the consent of Jane Fraser – the President of the Stuttering Foundation of America, a Polish version of the exceptional SF movie ‘Cluttering’ was created and made available on the Conference website (www.konferencja-zpm.edu.pl).
One of the most interesting events of this series was the Global Workshop of the International Fluency Association. This one-day course titled ‘Building core skills in working with school-age children who stutter’, was delivered in English by Jane Harley – a specialist from the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children in London. Apart from SLPs from Czech Republic, Germany, Lebanon, and Slovakia, thanks to consecutive interpreting into Polish more than 30 Polish therapists also participated in this course. Workshop participants expressed enthusiastic opinions on the quality of the course which shows how much it was needed to organize such training in this very place and at this time.
Excerpts from some of the IFA Global Workshop participants’ opinions are quoted below.
The IFA Global Workshop "Working with school-age children who stutter" was one of the most interesting and informative workshops I have ever participated. The trainer – Jane Harley changed my way of looking on stuttering therapy and gave me confidence in NOT implementing fluency techniques if they are not necessarily needed. Thank you very much! Alexandra Schnell, Germany
The IFA workshop was very interesting and useful. Jane Harley guided us to look at the school-age children who stutter from different perspectives. Focusing on the needs of the person who stutters is a must - Jane explained it in a beautiful way. Very good memories from this wonderful workshop. Thank you for this great experience! Selma Saad, Lebanon
The knowledge I gained from the workshop will improve the way I program my therapies because I now better understand what aims I should establish in the beginning. I know now what areas I should improve – I want to familiarize myself with the Solution Focused Brief Therapy. Group exercises have helped me understand the significance of noticing and using the positives. Dominika Piatek, Poznan, Poland
Taking part in the workshop has been a very elevating and inspiring experience for me. I was glad to find out that fluency and speech techniques do not have to be the most important element of therapy. I was inspired by the way of working with the child and the family which was presented (working with the child’s strengths, strengthening self-confidence, presenting ways of coping with negative attitudes and emotions which accompany stuttering). Grzegorz Chmielewski, Lublin, Poland
Thanks to taking part in the workshop, it is now easier for me to put myself in the parent’s shoes and to lead the therapy in a way which enables the parents to become more and more independent in solving problems and more confident in dealing with their child’s stuttering. Aleksandra Boron, Sycow, Poland
The workshops were conducted in a very professional manner. I have gained practical skills, which I will certainly use in working with stuttering children and their parents. Lukasz Kowalczyk, Warszawa, Poland
The conference with its series of satellite events was a great challenge for the organizers. The support which was granted to them by the partners – above all by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the International Fluency Association was priceless. Thanks to that partnership it was possible to gather specialists and consumers from many countries. The organizers’ goals were to support all participants not only in gaining knowledge and new experience but also in exchanging points of view, attending interesting discussions, and what is more in integrating the fluency field community. On behalf of the Organizers: Katarzyna Wesierska, University of Silesia, Poland