Creating Stories About Our Heros

butler.jpeg About the presenter: Judy Butler is a graduate of Brown University (1979) and the University of Connecticut (1981). She also attended the 1992 Fluency Specialist Workshop sponsored by Stuttering Foundation at Northwestern University. She is an ASHA Board Recognized Specialist in Fluency and Fluency Disorders. Early in her career, Judy worked at the Easter Seal Society Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, PA where her caseload involved a variety of communication disorders. Since moving to Massachusetts in 1996, she has worked exclusively with children who stutter.
allen.jpeg About the presenter: Marybeth Allen is a graduate of the 1996 Fluency Specialist Workshop sponsored by Stuttering Foundation of America and Northwestern University and is an ASHA Specialty Board Recognized Specialist in Fluency and Fluency Disorders. After working in public schools for many years, she is currently on the part-time faculty of the University of Maine as a clinical educator and lecturer and also enjoys work as a private practicioner, specializing in children and adults who stutter. Marybeth is a person who stutters and leads the Eastern Maine Chapter of the NSA.

Creating Stories About Our Heroes

by Judy Butler and Marybeth Allen
from Massachusetts and Maine, USA

Marybeth Allen and Judy Butler facilitated a workshop for elementary school age children at the 2003 National Stuttering Association Convention in Nashville, TN. Amanda Phillips, a college senior, assisted. The workshop used storytelling to build self-esteem. Fictional story telling encourages a child to draw on his/her own life experiences and imagine what "could be". As an added benefit for children who stutter (CWS), a large body of research documents the importance of narrative to literacy skills and success in school. (Bishop & Edmundson, 1987; Feagans & Applebaum, 1986; ASHA, 1998). The Western culture's "story grammar" (Stein & Glenn, 1979) was used to model a traditional story of a main character who encounters a problem, solves it and becomes a "hero".

Marybeth opened the workshop by describing the parts of a story using five mounted posters, one for each story component, as a visual guide. The posters had titles: Who and Where (setting and characters), Kick Off (initiating event), The Plan (internal response and goal formation), Do (attempt(s)), and The End (consequence and reaction).

To scaffold setting and character development, Judy and Marybeth led the group in brainstorming all the "neat and courageous things" they knew how to do because they were CWS. This was essential because, in this story, the characters would be heroic CWS. As Marybeth continued to guide the children in brainstorming, Judy wrote their ideas on the posters. This open-ended process ensured that every child saw his/ her idea acknowledged. Next, the children divided into teams and gathered up blank story board posters upon which to draw their tale. They sat on the floor with colorful markers and set to work. At last, a beautifully illustrated story was mounted on the wall near the NSA registration desk for everyone to see. At the closing ceremonies, Amanda led the children's performance of the original rap song they had created for the story's CWS heroes.

Read The Story Here


ASHA (1998). Assessment and Treatment of Narrative Skills: What's the Story. Rockville, MD: American Speech Language Hearing Association Self- Study 5425

Bishop, D.V.M., & Edmundson, A. (1987). Language-impaired 4-year-olds: Distinguishing transient from permanent impairment. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 52, 156-173.

Feagans, L. & Applebaum, M. (1986). Validation of language subtypes in learning disabled children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 78, 358-364.

Stein, N., & Glenn, C. (1979). An analysis of story comprehension in elementary school children. In R. Freedle (Ed.), New directions in discourse processing (Vol. 2) Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

August 2004