Walking And Talking

claude2.jpgWalking down the halls of CRLS next to junior Claude Nherrison, makes one feel that they are in the presence of a celebrity! “Hi Claude,” the students shout. “You look great! You don’t have a walker!” Claude’s contagious proud smile immediately appears on his face as he directly looks at the students and sincerely in his deep voice replies, “Thank you, how are you?” Claude immediately begins to laugh as he watches looks of surprise and excitement appear on the students’ faces.

Claude enrolled at CRLS during November of 2010. When Claude arrived at CRLS, he was using a walker as a result of a motor-vehicle accident he was involved in as a pedestrian in 2009. Separate from physical injuries resulting from the accident, Claude also presented with a severe stutter. As a result of this stutter, Claude primarily communicated using the words, “yes,” “no,” and “good”.

The staff at CRLS was committed to helping Claude with his fluency difficulties, while Claude’s family was committed to helping him walk independently. Claude was determined to make improvements in both areas. This summer, Claude independently attended physical therapy to help with the walking. In addition, he attended the New England Fluency Therapy program, run by Adriana DiGrande, MS, CCC-SLP, BRS-FD. The New England Fluency Therapy program is a three week, 7 hours a day intensive integrated fluency therapy program. The program integrates both stuttering modification and fluency shaping strategies in order to address the complex nature of the stuttering and human behavior. At the end of the three weeks, Claude strutted to the podium without his walker in order to give a speech about the techniques he learned at the program and his thoughts about stuttering. Claude gave a two minute speech without one dysfluency to a room full of tearful teachers, friends and parents. When Claude began the New England Fluency Program, he stuttered on 49% of his spoken words. When he ended the program, he only stuttered on 3% of his spoken words.

With the help of the teachers at CRLS and his family, Claude continues to work on using the techniques learned at The New England Fluency Program daily to maintain this level of success. Claude’s English teacher, had tears in her eyes when asked to explain the changes she has seen in Claude. “Claude is the epitome of why the education at CRLS is second to none. The collaboration of special educators, general educators, related service providers, and all staff members within this high school have one common goal. This goal is to help all students. Claude is the culmination of this work. I smile when I see him and I am usually on the verge of tears when he participates in a verbal share. He is a living miracle!”

When asked, “How has your life changed?” Claude immediately responds without hesitation, “I think this program changed my life because I know how to not stutter anymore. In classes, I ask questions and I answer questions. With my friends, I talk to them. When I stuttered, I did not talk in class or with friends. Now, I can speak. I feel happy because I do not use the walker anymore and now I can talk without stuttering. I like to talk, but I couldn’t before. I feel happy that people are happy to see me talk and walk.”

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