New space, new confidence: ISTAR Calgary clinic expanding to continue helping those who stutter

    Nine-year-old Daniel used to have ‘bumpy’ speech. But thanks to ISTAR, he can now speak with ease.

    By Amanda McCarthy on April 26, 2018

    Talking, gabbing, chatting—what should be an easy task for many of us was holding Daniel Hoffart back from living his life.

    In January 2016, the Hoffart family realized that Daniel had a stutter. Speaking became so difficult for the seven-year-old that his mother, Tricia, started to fear nothing would correct it.

    That’s when she found the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research—and that’s when everything, including Daniel’s speech, became much more hopeful.

    “It was hard to get my words out. It was very frustrating. Luckily, kids never bothered me about it but it was just so frustrating,” explained Daniel.

    Even Tricia started to feel the frustration, and that’s when she knew her son needed help.

    “We noticed it subtly at home for the first while, assuming it was related to stress as it started almost immediately after finding out that he may require tonsil and/or adenoid surgery that following summer,” said Tricia. “We hoped it would just dissipate but it worsened quite rapidly. It went from occasional disfluency to multiple ‘bumps’ in every sentence. He struggled to get through almost any sentence without disfluency in up to three different words.”

    But now, at the age of nine, Daniel has no trouble speaking his mind.

    On Friday, April 27, Daniel proudly shared his story at the ISTAR Calgary office’s grand opening. The event, which started at 11:00 a.m. at the University of Alberta’s Calgary Centre, featured lunch, tours and a chance for guests to talk about their positive experiences with ISTAR.

    With more room to treat clients, the new space will allow ISTAR’s Calgary branch to expand and be better equipped to help clients like Daniel.

    “Our sessions at ISTAR were like coaching sessions, enabling me to learn and practice the skills I needed to help my son, as the bulk of the work happened at home,” said Tricia. “We had to carve out time every day to work together, focusing on his fluency as we increased the complexity of the activities.”

    Although treatment wasn’t always conducted in a clinical setting, Tricia appreciates the time, effort and care put into her son’s treatment plan.

    “One of the things that I appreciated most about Daniel’s treatment program was that it empowered me to help my son. Our speech-language pathologist, Elizabeth, provided the support, modelling, tools, and guidance that I needed in order to be able to help Daniel regain his ability to clearly and confidently communicate.  That’s huge.”

    And thanks to a bigger, more modern space, other clients will soon be able to exude confidence as well.

    “After treatment I saw Daniel return to his previous level of confidence, to be more comfortable speaking with people,” said Tricia. “I do think that ISTAR is a very valuable resource for people who stutter. It is my opinion that working with a team who has enhanced knowledge in stuttering assessment and treatment likely helped to facilitate faster remission of Daniel’s symptoms. I am extremely grateful for the support that ISTAR has given us.

    More space allows for more opportunities to grow the service, whether that be more clients, more therapists, or more opportunities for group work. It’s very exciting.”

    For more information about the ISTAR Calgary branch, visit istar.ualberta.ca.