Adolescence is a complicated phase of maturation during which a great deal of physical, neurological and social development occurs. Clinically this phase is thought to be the last chance to arrest the development of the disorder of stuttering before it becomes chronic in adulthood. However, little treatment development for this age group has occurred. Previous research on the impact of stuttering during adolescence presents a complex picture of apprehension about speaking which does not, however, appear to interfere with social life. The purpose of the present study was to investigate further the experiences of adolescents who stutter with respect to: (1) their experience of stuttering during the adolescent years, (2) reasons for seeking or not seeking therapy during the adolescent years, (3) barriers to seeking therapy during the adolescent years, (4) their experience of therapy during the adolescent years, and finally (5) suggested improvements to therapy for adolescents. Two focus groups and seven individual interviews were conducted with 13 adolescents and young adults. The major finding was a perceived lack of awareness about stuttering by teachers and parents, as well as other adolescents. In addition it appeared that having a stutter was, in itself, not enough reason to seek treatment. However when adolescents did seek treatment, for reasons such as joining the workforce, group therapy was well liked.
Educational objectives: The reader will summarize key features that characterize: (1) the complex developmental phase of adolescence, (2) evaluate the experience of stuttering during the adolescent years, (3) discuss the experience of stuttering therapy during the adolescent years, (4) list adolescents' reported barriers to seeking therapy during the adolescent years, and (5) suggest possible ways to improve management of stuttering in adolescence.