This is a really great question that reflects a significant challenge in working with people who stutter. Indeed, many do want to eliminate their stuttering – and they may have gone through their lives believing that this is possible if they only try hard enough. Prior speech-language pathologists, teachers, and parents have probably reinforced this message for them – just keep at it and you will eventually stop stuttering. The problem is that this is not going to be the case for most (nearly all) school-age children or teens who stutter. They will continue to stutter – and this is going to be very difficult news for them to come to terms with. Until they come to terms with it, however, they will continue to struggle. The key to lifelong success in coping with stuttering is acceptance of stuttering, and the sooner that we can help students get to that point, the better off they will be.
Unfortunately, they will experience disappointment when they begin to come to terms with stuttering… but we can offer them hope, as well. They need to learn that there is no cure, but they also need to learn that this does not mean that stuttering has to cause a negative impact on their lives. When we shift our focus from fluency to the broader impact of stuttering, and when we show them that they can do whatever they want to do in their lives regardless of whether or not they stutter, and when we show them that stuttering does not have to be as frightening as it seems like it was, then, and only then, can we help them reduce their fear, increase their comfort, and ultimately, learn to live more easily with their stuttering.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer for this, but they will have to go through this (and the parents, too). The more that we need to create a sense of acceptance, optimism, and hope for them, so that they can learn that they are okay even if they continue to stutter.