My Stuttering Story

hudockAbout the author: Daniel Hudock, Ph.D., Certificate
of Clinical Competence of Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), is an Assistant Professor at Idaho State
University in Pocatello, Idaho, USA. As a person who stutters himself, he is very passionate about fluency disorders and helping those with fluency disorders. He currently serves on the International Cluttering Association and International Stuttering Association website committees, is the Northwestern Regional Chapter Coordinator for the National Stuttering Association in the United States, and is a Chapter Leader for the NSA’s Southeastern Idaho Chapters. He is a regular presenter at conferences and has several
publications. His research interests are exploring: the communicative process during the observation of normal and disordered speech using eye-tracking,
biobehavioral and neurophysiological measures; stuttering inhibition during the perception of second speech signals; EEG temporal and spectral components for sensory and motor integration and involvement during speech perception and production; and forming effective collaborations between Speech-Language Pathologists and Mental Health Counselors for the treatment of people who stutter.

Everyone who stutters has his or her own stuttering story to tell. In this reflection of my history with stuttering, I hope to help others come to terms with their own situations and experiences and possibly put a few things in perspective. I have stuttered since I can remember talking, however two situations vividly stand out to me as the moments I began feeling “different” because of my stuttering. Going in chronological order, the first was when I was four at preschool. I was asking other kids if I could play in a water box, similar to an elevated sandbox. I said wa, wa, waterbox. They looked at me with questioning and confused stares, but then let me play with them and shortly after playing became the main focus. The next situation that stands out was in kindergarten. I was going through the every day routine of the lunch line and wanted a slice of peperoni pizza. The lunch lady smiled, as she typically did, and I started to say I’d like p,p,…pep, (this went on for a decade, in my mind at least). As the time went on, her smile turned into grave concern and she frantically pointed to items and asked me if this is what I wanted. The girls and one boy in line behind me stood there aghast, mouths gapping open wide eyed, not knowing what to do. I finally changed my word and said pizza then pointed to the slice of peperoni. What was going on? The other kids could say what they wanted to when they wanted to say it! Why couldn’t I?

Shortly after that I started going to speech therapy at the elementary school. My clinician was sweet, caring and nice, but also told me that I was the first person who stutters that she had treated, so we’d have to learn together. I commend her for her honesty, but that comment made the feeling of isolation overwhelming. However, I  had fortune on my side, in that I came from a family with other people who stutter, so there was always an unsaid understanding. Even if we rarely talked about stuttering during the early years, I felt the support. Therapy consisted of the typical turtle talk, easy on-sets, diaphragmatic breathing etc. I would lie on the ground and apply pressure to my stomach while breathing to “strengthen my deficient breathing muscles,” or so I was told. We also listened to tapes, yes cassette tapes, – it wasn’t to overly long ago when we still had those – about methods of relaxation. When my clinician and I would talk in the therapy room, I remember playing the game of talking like how she wanted me to talk, however I wouldn’t dare use this funny, unnatural sounding stuff outside of the room. I already felt different – I didn’t need to make it any more obvious!

This continued throughout my schooling for quite some time. To my luck, fortune once again shined upon me. I had the same group of friends from early elementary school throughout high school. They were supportive, accepting and really didn’t mind my stuttering. Although I hated it with a passion, my friends, family, teachers, etc. didn’t seem to make a big deal out of it. Even though I thought about it every time I had to say anything at all and it consumed every thought of my life, I played along, as it didn’t bother me. In late elementary school when my stuttering did not improve, my mom began taking me to a university clinic twice a week, which was an hour and a half drive each way. Although I knew I was being taken there to “improve” my speech, I never truly appreciated the time and effort my mom was putting in, nor did I understand specifically what I was supposed to get out of going there. So without knowing what the long-term goal was, I would play their game, speaking in their unnatural “fluent” way while I was there and driving home after, being told I was doing great. When we would get home I would talk in my voice, not that stranger’s voice, until the next trip.

I don’t want to make it seem like I didn’t benefit from therapy. Going to the university clinics showed me what I wanted to do with my life, it showed me that if I wanted to talk unnatural I could control some of the involuntary disruptions, but most of all there was someone who cared about me and provided me with a safe place to talk about my stuttering. The last point is the most meaningful by far; it did help me cope with something terrifying and unknown. I will forever be indebted to them for their kindness and support.

Fast-forwarding quite a few years, I was still going to speech therapy in school once or twice a week, and occasionally to other university clinics, hypnotherapists, psychologists for medication and much more, never knowing the true goal of why I was going. I didn’t seem bothered by my stuttering so why did other people? I liked my clinicians; they were nice and would play cards and games with me, so I would play their “pretend fluency” game with them. In middle school, I still had the same great group of friends and became very open with talking to my mom, friends and everyone about stuttering. My friends and I were in the same sports, activities, organizations, and we excelled. Even though I thought about stuttering and my fluency constantly, I tried my best to ignore it and not let it impact me. However I could not be prepared for the reality check I was about to have. One day sitting on a bench in our mall, a girl, in the typical middle school style, came up to me to tell me that her friend thought I was cute. With an air of confidence and a bit of ignorance, I went with her to meet her friend. She said her name, and with a smug smile on my face I said, ”Hi I’m … D, D, D,” thinking to myself SHIT, let me say this! The three girls laughed and asked if I had forgotten my name. I said, “No I’m George,” and walked away, traumatized. I never had a difficult time finding a date or dating girls. Why was this happening to me?

As time continued throughout high school, my friends and I became the captains for all of our sports teams, were on executive boards for various student governments and organizations, we supported each other, I dated and had girlfriends often. I was in my comfort zone and would prove to myself that stuttering would not hold me back from anything. Little did I know that I was overcompensating all along the way. I guess it’s about time for another reality check. Toward the end of high school my friend and I were driving, too quickly, down a gravel road back from one of our usual hangouts. The car careened out of control, rolled over four times, and ended up on its roof up against a telephone pole. Luckily we both had on our seatbelts, but we had to crawl out of the back window to get out. I didn’t appear to have any injuries, but my friend had a large cut on his head behind his ear. I tore my shirt and tied it around his head to stop the bleeding, then called emergency services at 911. “Hel, hel,” then a block… followed by a dial tone. SHIT, they hung up on me and my friend is blacking out. I tried again and was hung up on again. I stood my friend up, got him conscious and had him tell them that I stutter. From then I relayed the information and shortly enough after the ambulance arrived and he was taken to the hospital. My friend ended up being okay after stitches and some time. This is not the last time I’ve been hung up on by 911, but I’ll leave the story at that for now. By the end of high school I was thinking about how to pay for college and tried to enlist in the National Guards then the Army Reserves, but was denied due to my stuttering.

In college, as my plan from elementary school, I majored in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD). Even though this was a new place with new people I thrived. I became involved in a fraternity, the rugby team, student government and pretty much everything else you could think of. Knowing how I felt that I had to overcompensate for my stuttering, I was on the executive boards of most organizations, became a co-captain for our rugby team, and dated when I wanted. On request of my CSD instructors I was going to speech therapy twice a week, where I would play their “fluency game” once again with sweet, nice, usually attractive co-eds that generally cared about me. When my instructors informed me that I might not be accepted to graduate school due to my fluency, I took the advice from my current clinician, who was a male who stuttered. He told me about the Hollins Communications Research Institute at Hollins College in Virgina, based on the Precision Fluency Shaping Program, which he had attended. Shortly after, I attended their twelve-day program, where clients were expected to drone their speech throughout their time there. After the fact, I was actually using their techniques and found myself much more “fluent” but highly unnatural sounding. More so, I was exhausted at the end of every day of trying to maintain the persona of a fluent speaker. Then within a few months, I was stuttering more than I had been when I attended. I was taught to be fluent and to start over again if I was not. So instead of my usual blocks and slight repetitions, I would repeat entire sentences 10-15 times and was lost in my spiral downward.

I started applying to graduate programs. The first of the eight programs I applied to responded, my backup school, my own undergraduate university, said DENIED because “communication skills are not sufficient”. What, can they do this? Who would have the audacity to sign their name to this piece of discrimination? I thought about fighting the denial and suing, but a bit later on I had finally received a letter of acceptance from a school. At the time, the school was nowhere near my first choice, but in hindsight it’s by far the best thing that could have happened to me and has dramatically changed my life for the better.

I started graduate school and all was well once again. I was making friends, getting involved in student government, softball and of course dating! Over the next year I had started a masters thesis, become the Graduate and Professional Student Senate Treasurer – I maintained this position as the treasurer for the entire graduate student population during four of my six years in my graduate programs. During the second year of my Master’s program I was told from the clinical director that I was not going to be assigned anymore clients until “I got my stuttering under control”. My mentor got me in touch with Vocational Rehabilitation, which paid 100% for a SpeechEasy device, and under the advisement of my mentor I also signed up for the Successful Stuttering Management Program in Cheney, Washington, which was a life changing experience. There, I was told that stuttering is okay and that we can be effective communicators and still stutter. After coming back from the program I spent several more years jumping through the hoops that my graduate department imposed on me, and even had the opportunity to be on MTV’s True Life – I stutter, but was strongly advised not to from our department, due to how it would make the school look. Many experts in the field of Fluency Disorders were advising me and helping me along the way, and then finally during the end of my doctoral program I had finished my clinical requirements and accepted a part-time job as a Private Practice Speech-Language Pathologist. I recently accepted a job at Idaho State University (ISU), who has supported me in completing my clinical requirements for national certification in Speech-Language Pathology.

As I sit here in my office at ISU with several diplomas, Idaho State Licensure in Speech-Language Pathology and my National Certificate of Clinical Competence of Speech-Language Pathology, I remember the past and reflect on some of the supports and roadblocks throughout my years. All of us have different roads we must take, different interests and goals that we seek, but determination and perseverance help us achieve all of our goals. I have a job that I love, in a place I’m happy to call my home with friends, family, and a wonderful wife, who all combine to make life more than I could have ever imagined. Things can and will get better. It may take a lifetime, but don’t give up, your life is worth fighting for. One final thought; it’s okay to stutter. Accepting that fact, along with teaching others, that is something I will strive for throughout my career.

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Comments

My Stuttering Story — 85 Comments

  1. Your story is a true story of the road you have traveled of determination and perseverance to not let one single thing, stuttering, defy who you are. I commend your strive and applaud all that you have accomplished when others may have thought otherwise. A common trait I noticed throughout your life is that you “played” fluent for various speech pathologists and family. Is this something that was controllable? You noted that fluent speech was “funny, unnatural sounding stuff”. Do you think your stuttering was a result of something that was natural to you, whereas fluent speech seemed weird or unnatural?

    Hannah Summerlin
    Graduate Student in Communication Sciences and Disorders
    Western Carolina University
    Cullowhee, NC, USA

    • Hannah,

      First of all thank you for your compliments. Most PWS have what we call clinic room fluency and with having a clinician who only focuses on overt fluency, we inherently understand what we are supposed to do. So yes, I / and most individuals who stutter that I’ve worked with or have been friends with experience this to some extent. As for your second question, stuttering is our natural way of speaking, as fluency is yours. By adding some sort of conscious control of using techniques (regardless of which) there comes a degree of unnaturalness. So it’s not the speech itself that was unnatural, but the techniques used to achieve a modified form. We all hope for some degree of fluency but that is not all that we should be focusing on as clinicians and clients.

      Thanks,
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

  2. Hi Daniel,

    Thanks so much for sharing your story with us! It was truly insightful. I found it extremely interesting to read about the level of involvement that you had with your peers and with extracurricular activities. I think this is great. You also mentioned some unsuccessful attempts at speech therapy. As a future SLP I am wondering why you think there was no success? Is there anything you would have liked to see your SLP’s do differently to help you in your elementary school aged years?

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    • I’m glad that you enjoyed it. Great question. For the vast majority of PWS who attend therapy there are consistent high rates of relapse. In my personal experiences I believe that it is because my clinicians mainly focused on how I sounded instead of what I felt and experienced. I think it would have been crucially beneficial for my clinicians to tell me that stuttering was okay and instead of trying to be fluent all day everyday to pick times to work on my fluency but to challenge myself to truly experience life 100% of the time.

      Best Regards,
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story, it is very inspirational! One thing that I cannot get over is when you were talking about your graduate school application process. I am currently a first year graduate student in communication disorders, and I was completely baffled to learn that your own undergraduate school said your “communication skills are not sufficient.” I was asking similar questions myself, can they do that? My question to you is:
    Do you regret not taking any action against your undergraduate school for the “reason” they denied you into graduate school?

    As an assistant professor yourself, how would you handle a situation that was similar to yours? What if the department didn’t want to accept a student into the graduate program because their “communication skills were not sufficient?”

    • Jolene,

      Great questions. It is still quite baffling to me as well. I do not regret taking action. Being in academia is a small world as is and I wouldn’t have wanted to tarnish my reputation so soon. However, I am torn because I would want to knock down those barriers for anyone else. So there is some regret, but I am in a much better place with the other doors that have opened.

      I am very lucky in the university that I’m at. While I was interviewing they actually had a student who stuttered and was about to graduate, and they have extremely supportive with me in general and in the completion of my clinical fellowship. Hypothetically speaking though, if that happened I would hope that I would stand up for the student if their qualifications were sufficient for gradschool (GPA, GRE, etc). There are outlets to have people hear your story and garner support.

      Luckily, I never see that happening in our department.

      Best,
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

  4. Daniel – I enjoyed your sharing of your story.

    I am interested in your thoughts re: If it truly is OK to stutter, why do speech therapy and speech therapists spend so much time, effort and emphasis on techniques to get both CWS and adults who stutter to stop or change stuttering?

    Thanks in advance!

    Retz

    • Retz,

      Good question. I think it’s what the society believes should be done and what we train our clinicians to do. Now, I’m not saying that as clinicians and PWS that we shouldn’t work on increasing fluency I’m just saying that there is a bigger picture that is not touched on enough. Do I want to become a more fluent speaker, absolutely, do I think that everyone who stutters should increase their fluency, No. I see my job as a PWS, Clinician and Professor to instill a paradigm of decreasing the negative impact that stuttering might have on an individual. If an individual is willing and motivated to increase their fluency while we work on decreasing negative impacts that’s great too.

      Cheers,
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

      • Daniel –

        Thanks for your reply!

        I often think of the phrase “It’s OK to Stutter” and its relationship to the way professionals are trained – or not – to treat the disorder of stuttering. “It’s OK To Stutter” use to be the major slogan for the NSA, but to a number of us adults who stutter was always kinda odd because at the national NSA conventions, most professionals have workshops promoting stopping or controlling stuttering! Kinda contradicting to me as a PWS.

        Dr. William Perkins – a recipient of the prestigious Honors of ASHA organization and Distinguished Emeritus Award at USC for his 50 years of Stuttering Research and one of the original proponents of DAF and Fluency Trainging Therapy for people who stutter – had this to say in published articles (NSA “Letting Go – Professional’s Corner”) after he retired and formed relationships with a number of individuals in the NSA:

        “I assumed…that if we could keep our people fluent long enough, eventually their fluency skills would become habitual. Not once did that ever happen.”

        “Failure to maintain fluency was the clearest evidence of dissatisfaction as speakers gave up hope that this therapy would ever lead to natural speech free of stuttering.”

        “The blame for failed therapy lay in the professionals’s failure to recognize that fluency is not the proper objective of therapy.”

        “The speaker is helpless to prevent involuntary blockage.”

        “Neural mechanisms of naturally fluent speech cannot be brought under voluntary control no matter how long you try.”

        “Expecting to speak naturally with voluntarily controlled fluency is like pasting feathers to your arms and expecting to fly.”

        “Fluency is simply a natural by-product of the speaking system functioning automatically.”

        “My colleagues and I have been to blame for the fluency failures.”

        “Voluntarily controlled fluency is the wrong scientific objective, to say nothing of the wrong treatment objective.”

        “The very existence of self help groups speaks to the failure of professional therapy to address the needs of those who stutter which is not about making speech acceptable to the listener.It’s about coping with the feelings that create stuttering and understanding how they offer a path to full recovery.”

        I’d be interested in what your thoughts are regarding these observations by Dr. Perkins.

        Again – Thanks in advance!

        Retz

        • Retz,

          I have to admit, I’ve had very similar thoughts during some of the presentations. As for the quotes, I’m not sure if you presented them in any certain sequence, but starting off there is a foundation of prior beliefs with realization of possible errors with the belief. Following that is a paradigm shift that is supported in the last few quotes, which you present, a notion that treating the person as a whole is more impactful and longer lasting. The middle section is a more cynical perspective. I agree with the basic premise of the first section, in that our profession held / still maintains to some degree, that normally fluent natural speech is not a likely outcome from continued therapy, however I do believe that an increased fluency and less impact are obtainable goals. As I review the middle section it is not as cynical as I previous thought. We can reduce the duration and severity of the involuntary block, but it will likely still be present to some extent. All in all, I agree with his quotes that you have provided.

          Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
          Assistant Professor
          Idaho State University

          • Daniel –

            Thanks for your response!

            All of the quotes come from 4 articles Dr. William Perkins was asked to author for the NSA Publication “Letting Go” in the late 1990’s. They appeared in the “Professional’s Corner” of the publication over 4 issues. The articles were titled as follows:

            “Do Fluency Controls Ever Produce Automatic Fluency?”

            “An Odyssy”

            “Why Stuttering Hasn’t Been Solved”

            “Declaring War on Fluency”

            Again – Thanks for your responses! Have a great ISAD experience!

            Retz

  5. Daniel,
    your story is a true inspiration not only to other stutterers, but also to Speech Pathologists and those currently on the road to becoming Speech Pathologists. It takes a lot of strength to share such a personal story with others and I commend you on that. I was shocked to learn that you were not accepted into the national guards and the army reserve due to your stutter. That seems truly unfair to you and other stutterers who wish to serve for their country. When reading about your experience calling 911 after your car accident, I couldn’t help but put myself in your position. You were extremely brave for how you handled such a situation and I’m sure your friend is forever grateful.
    I’ve noticed you kept mentioning that in your various experiences receiving speech therapy you felt the clinicians were kind, played games with you, and practiced “unnatural” speech with you. However, you haven’t mentioned that you felt any of the therapists tried to understand how you felt about stuttering or tried to put themselves in your shoes when attempting to speak. Do you think it is important for Speech Pathologists to not only attempt at “correcting” ones speech but to also understand the emotions and covert features a stutterer may have? What techniques could they use in sessions to achieve such a goal? And lastly, do you believe if your speech therapists pseudostuttered in your sessions you would have benefited from that?

    Yelena Norkina
    Graduate Student in Communication Sciences and Disorders
    Long Island University
    Brooklyn, NY, USA

    • Yelena,

      Thank you, it still surprises me as well. I think that you touch on a very important point. None of my clinicians, until my second intensive stuttering clinic pseudostuttered, or even used the techniques they were teaching me to use (for the most part). I think that it would have been a much different experience if they had pseudostuttered or used the fluency techniques with strangers in front of me. Most of the therapists would only ever ask me how my speech was and was I using the techniques in out situations, hardly any of them asked me how I felt about my stuttering or in regard to the emotional aspects, once again, until I went to my second intensive stuttering clinic that specifically focused on emotional and social aspects. I think as Sheehan’s iceberg analogy states that the covert aspects are 90% of the pathology, so it is crucial to treat the mass of the problem. As to your other question, I think the clinician pseudostuttering would have been a great start, and just talking to me about emotional and social aspects would have helped. This could have been done by writing out pros and cons, watching recordings of myself so I would have a more objective perspective of myself and my stuttering, and having them use the techniques in other environments to show me.

      It sounds like your on the right page!

      Thanks,
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

      • Dan,
        I will definitely take what you have shared with me about pseudostuttering and use it in the future with my clients. Since I can tell from your comment that you value this technique and feel as though it can benefit stutterers in the long run, I will definitely consider using it with clients who stutter. I agree that talking about emotional and social aspects of stuttering can be tremendously helpful as well. Thank you for your great response!

        Yelena Norkina, Graduate Student
        Long Island University, Brooklyn NY, USA

  6. Daniel,

    Thank you for sharing your story! As stuttering runs in my family, I always find it interesting to hear about all of the different experiences people who stutter have. I have a few questions for you regarding your article and experiences:

    You stated that the school in which you received your undergraduate degree from denied your admission into their graduate program. I am wondering if you ran into any other obstacles while completing their undergraduate program as a person who stutters. I personally think having first-hand experience with stuttering give a clinician great insight into how to treat a client.

    You also wrote about what a close group of friends you had and how much you supported one another. What advice would you give to children and young adults who stutter and don’t have a strong support system like you had?

    Annette

    • Annette,

      Thank you for your thought provoking questions. The interesting thing is I’ve encountered more prejudice and discrimination from clinical faculty members at universities than I have from parents, academic faculty members etc. I’m very lucky to say that it is in no way like that at the university I am currently at and therefore is not everywhere, but the experiences I had tainted me for a while. With the positive experience I’ve had here I have warmed up to clinical faculty again. Sorry about the rant, and back to your first question. Most parents or individuals that I’ve had see my stuttering as a positive in that I connect and have empathy for my clients (their children or loved ones). Additionally, all of my clinical supervisors during my internships have seen it as a positive, it was just the clinical faculty at two universities (and some doctoral students who were mainly clinicians).

      For your second question, this is a great question, because having that social support network is so critical for kids growing up in general, let alone if they stutter. I would highly recommend finding a National Stuttering Association meeting, or attending a FRIENDS of People who Stutter workshop or either association’s annual convention. Attending these events and finding comradery in other people who stutter may kick start socialization. Another way is to get the school counselor involved early. They can build social acceptance or support groups and help increase social involvement as well as decreasing many of the negative impacts from stuttering. However, that being said, many school counselors are not specifically trained on children who stutter so it might help to have the speech pathologist (of child themselves) talk about the consequences from stuttering.

      Hope this helps,
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

  7. Hi Daniel — thank you for sharing your journey. As the mom to a 17-year old, much of what you said sounded familiar. In my book “Voice Unearthed: Hope, Help, and a Wake-up Call for the Parents of Children Who Stutter,” I quote Eli as saying …”They tried to make me talk with their voice. They would say, ‘say it exactly how I do – exactly.’ I remember speaking in a woman’s voice every time I went there…”

    I continue to speak to adults who experienced speech therapy as a child and consistently hear the same message of appreciation of speech therapy you share…”but most of all there was someone who cared about me and provided me with a safe place to talk about my stuttering. The last point is the most meaningful by far; it did help me cope with something terrifying and unknown. I will forever be indebted to them for their kindness and support.”

    Our experiences with therapy led us to believe that asking a child to change the way they talk in order to minimize or eliminate stuttering is risky (at best) and too often leads to withdrawal and silence far more handicapping than the stutter itself.

    I hope you will read my ISAD submission “The Right Time to Break Out the Stickers” and my book “Voice Unearthed.” You are insightful and intelligent and will make a great speech therapist! Thanks again for sharing and best of luck to you!

    • Great quote, he sounds very insightful for his age! It is a pretty enlightening experience to hear about parents who stutter refusing to take their children to therapy because of how negatively impacted they were from their own therapy. There was something drastically wrong with the owness of blame that we had placed upon us as clients.

      I actually have read yours, I was one of the conference facilitators and reviewed the all of the submissions. Much of what you said rang true with my own experiences.

      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

  8. Daniel,

    Thank you for sharing your story! As a graduate student in Communication Disorders I am curious to know how your own experiences in therapy as a PWS have influenced the way that you provide services for your clients who are working on fluency. What reactions have you gotten from your clients who stutter, assuming that they are aware that you are also a PWS?
    I look forward to your response!

    Shelby

    • Shelby,

      Thanks for the question. I tend to be very open with my stuttering and more often than not start every meeting with increased pseudostutteirng and or some lack of control to set the stage. After the first few minutes I switch into using my strategies and use that as a teaching example for the client and caregivers. Being a PWS I focus much more on the feelings and emotions related to stuttering, not just the overt aspects of fluency. Most of my experience as a clinician have been very positive, especially when treating other PWS. For the most part it is a very eye opening experience for them to see what you can do (walk up to strangers with the utmost confidence while stuttering very overtly or with mostly controlled speech).

      Thanks,
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

  9. Hi Daniel!

    Thanks for sharing your story. I really enjoyed reading about it! I am a graduate student in Speech-Language Pathology right now. What do you think your therapists should have done differently for you? Do you have any specific things that come to mind that may have helped you feel more comfortable?

    Thanks,

    Cailey

    • Cailey,

      Thanks for the question. I answered a similar question under my response to Yelena. Mainly pseudostuttering or using the techniques themselves with strangers infront of me and to talk to me about emotions and social aspects not just about how I sound.

      Best,
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

  10. Daniel,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story, thank you for sharing. I am a second year graduate student in Speech-Language Pathology in California. I found your story to be inspiring and eye-opening, not only as a person but as a practicing clinician. It was interesting when you mentioned the repetitive, typical, fluency techniques that all of your speech therapists practiced with you (i.e., turtle-talk, easy onset, and unnatural speech). As a student clinician working in schools now, I am curious to know how you felt about those specific treatments. I know they are used so often, especially with children, and have always been curious as to how useful they are for the child. However, I also believe that a large portion of fluency treatment should focus on the affective and cognitive components of the child’s perception of their fluency as well. Are you indifferent to those particular fluency shaping techniques? Also, what balance do you feel is appropriate between fluency shaping therapy and the awareness/affective component of it?

    Thank you again for sharing your story, you have overcame some tough situations, and I admire your dedication and positive attitude!

    Shannon

    • Shannon,

      Great questions! As a child I had success at using most of the techniques, but none really felt or sounded natural to me. Additionally, I didn’t really think that they wanted me to sound that unnatural while I was in class or with my friends, so I modified them if I used them at all. So all of the fluency shaping techniques did help and so did the stuttering modification ones. I still switch in and out of both styles today. As Andrews, et al., 1982 showed the commonality between most behavioral fluency techniques is a conscious awareness of speech alterations with some temporal expansion of the speech production. So I tend to show my clients a few styles and ask them what they think sounds the most natural and which are they willing to use around other people. Some people like different ones than others and different ones than I do, the great thing is that most of them work to the same extent, so our clients have that choice. The technique that I use the most are intermittent vowel prolongations in a preemptive manner. It just sounds and feels more natural to me while drastically increasing my fluency with less effort. It’s difficult to come up with a ratio for you, because I work on both at the same time more often than not. I do however start every session with an activity or discussion focused strictly on affective factors, but after that generalize constantly and after each situation discuss the covert aspects and overt aspects.

      I hope this makes sense, thank you for the compliments.
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

  11. Daniel,
    Thank you for sharing your story. It was very inspiring. I’m shocked that your undergrad university wouldn’t accept you into the program due to “your communication skills not being sufficient.” Have you gone back and contacted your undergraduate school about this and given them advice on other potential PWS that may come through their university? As a professor at ISU have you came across other students that want into the program who stutter? If so what advice do you give them and how would you suggest helping them through their undergraduate/graduate program? Also what courses do you teach and ISU and how do you relate your experiences with teaching?

    • Steph,

      I’ve seen some of the faculty members at national conventions and have been cordial with them, but have remained reserved. I have occasionally thought about opening that door, but at the current time I have tried to remain moving forward.

      When I interviewed at ISU there was actually a second year masters student that stuttered and was about to graduate, which I took as a great sign. The biggest thing I can say and would hope to tell them is perseverance. Of course I would do all I could to help them achieve, but I would hope that I would do that for all of my students as well. I would definitely be a support and advocate for them. I teach the graduate course on Fluency Disorders and will likely soon be teaching Speech Science and or Anatomy and Physiology. In my fluency disorders course I use many personal experiences and stories. With my previous experiences of helping to teach Anatomy and Physiology, Speech Science, and Research Methods I’ve tried to focus much more on conceptual pieces and helping students understand the truly important concepts.

      Best Regards,
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

  12. Daniel,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It was poignant, powerful and a particularly helpful story for those of us who are currently CSD graduate students. The journey is just as important for us to learn about our clients as is the present state.

    What, if anything, do you wish your therapists/teachers/parents you saw as a child, would know? What would you tell them if you could?

    Deirdre

    • Deirdre,

      Prior to telling them, I would want them to pseudostutter to strangers for a period of time. After they have that experience I would want to discuss the impacts from stuttering, and give the perspective that it’s much more than just over fluency…

      Thanks for the question,
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

  13. Thank you for sharing your story. I find it interesting how differently people who stutter cope with their stutter. I found the reason you were declined from graduate programs very upsetting. I do not agree with the “discriminating excuse” you were given. From your biography, I am assured you are a very successful individual. As you are a PWS, SLP, and an assistant professor, some questions came to my mind. Do your past experiences with speech therapy play a role in the way you provide therapy to PWS? In graduate school, you were involved in the Successful Stuttering Management Program. Would you recommend this program to individuals at an earlier age now that you know the success that can be achieved from it?

    • Great questions. Being a PWS does definitely impact my clinical practices. I directly discuss stuttering, emotions and social aspects as well as do much generalization. Additionally, I always begin the generalization process by doing it myself and during the start of therapy without any strategies (very overt stuttering). As I’ve helped out with the SSMP we’ve had clients as young as 12 or 14 (I believe). The results are equally as impressive for adolescents as adults. However, I would be hesitant to recommend that anyone younger attend the intensive clinic due to the higher cognitive processes of insight, emotional reflection etc that one goes through. That being said, that and similar programs are available for younger ages…

      Thanks,
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

  14. Daniel,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am currently a CSD graduate student at ISU (Illinois State University). It is very nice to hear the perspective of a PWS. When we are being taught fluency generating techniques and therapies I often wonder if the clients would ever use these in the real world. Some of them sound very unnatural as you mentioned in your paper. I found it very upsetting that professionals that are familiar with stuttering turned you down for graduate school even though you were so involved and passionate about the field. How are we as SLPs supposed to help our clients accept their stutter when we do not accept it ourselves? Again, thank you so much for sharing your story. It will be something I think about in the future when I am fortunate enough to work with a PWS.

    • Devin,

      I’m glad that the paper had such an effect on you. I could not agree anymore. The old accolade comes into mind, if you want to know how someone feels, walk a mile in their shoes. If clinicians challenge themselves to experience what we experience or what clinicians want us to experience, I think it would be a game changer.

      Best of luck with your studies,
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

  15. Dr. Hudock,

    With all of the negative reactions you have received in the past, have you ever had similar reactions from your clients or their parents? When I told my parents you were teaching our fluency class and that you also worked with clients my mom asked, “he works with clients even though he can’t get his own stuttering under control?” How often do you run into this and how difficult is it to “persuade” prospective clients’ families to let them work with you?

    Thanks,
    Luke Heckly
    Graduate Student
    Idaho State University
    Pocatello, ID

    • Luke,

      Oddly enough, I’ve had mainly positive experiences from parents and clients. Most of them have even commented on how they are glad that I’m working with them or their kids because I know what it feels like and can be more empathetic. More often than not, although not always, if it is presented as a strength that’s how parents will see it. I also start by addressing it right upfront, telling them how in early elementary school I would stutter on every word that I said for 20-30 seconds and how much progress I’ve made. As aside, I tend to use my strategies much more in a clinical environment than when I’m teaching or out.

      Thanks,
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

  16. Dr. Hudock,
    In our class, you have stated that you played sports throughout your life, I was wondering if stuttering caused any respiratory difficulties during practice or games? I know there are professional athletes who have a stutter such as Bo Jackson and A’mare Stoudamire so I was just curious about that.

    Trae Perry
    Graduate Student
    Idaho State University
    Pocatello, ID

    • Trae,

      I haven’t ever noticed any problems, and most of the experiences that I have with other people would concur. Stuttering does not cause weakness or discoordination to the respiratory system when not dealing with speech and we may perturb the system ourselves to take it under some volitional control.

      Thanks,
      Dan Hudock, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
      Assistant Professor
      Idaho State University

  17. Daniel – thanks for sharing your story. There are many parallels to my own story and my own career with stuttering. You mentioned that you found yourself “overcompensating” at one time in your life, where you were the head or chair or president of many things at the same time.
    I’ve done that all through out my life – with a need to prove to the world and my myself that I could be good at and in control over some things, where I could not be in control over my stuttering.
    I’ve always been a perfectionist and have often heard that other people who stutter tend to have perfectionist tendencies as well. What do you think? Was your over-compensating a way to be perfect and in control?
    Do you stutter openly in class with your students or do you employ fluency techniques?
    Thanks for the great contribution to the ISAD conference.
    Pam

    • Pam,

      I don’t think that I was doing it to be in control or am in no way perfectionistic, I think that I did it because I wanted to prove myself to other people because I perceived myself as being less than others.

      I switch back and forth between using techniques and not using them throughout my class, interactions with other faculty members and students.

      Thanks,
      Dan

  18. Dr. Hudock,
    I have really enjoyed learning more about your personal story. As a graduate student, and I think we have talked about this briefly, it makes me feel that the big picture is not necessarily fluency -although some feel it is important- but rather, acceptance. I mean this in a sense regarding society as a whole and changing or shaping perceptions regarding PWS. History within the last century has brought a lot of growth to our society regarding acceptance, and yet I feel that perceptions related to PWS have struggled to evolve (as evident in some of your personal experiences). How do you feel that we, as clinicians but also as human beings, can help educate, amend or transform perceptions regarding PWS outside of the clinic? Thank you,
    Kelli S.
    Grad Student
    Idaho State University

    • Kelli,

      I’m glad that you have gained that perspective. Societal change and personal change is a day by day choice, which is sometimes easier than others. I agree with you that the societal perception has dramatically become more accepting in the USA, however other countries might not be to the level that the US is. Great question. The best answer is to be an advocate and educate as many people as you can. With education comes acceptance (most of the time).

      Thanks!

  19. Daniel,
    Thanks for taking the time time share your story. I often consult with school SLPs who are working with my private clients. So often, the kids I see are “playing the fluency game” that you talked about. They play along in in the therapy room but have no intention of using those same unnatural ways of talking outside of that room. This concept if often a revelation to the SLPs. So much so, that many are defensive when I suggest we look for other avenues to explore. Thank you for so clearly demonstrating that this is what you did. I am hopeful that SLPs will read what you wrote and truly think about what you have said. If this leads to an honest discussion with the kids they work with, the time you spent writing this paper will be time very well spent.
    As and SLP and PWS myself, I often worry that some of the professionals in our field come with a biased perspective- what worked for me will work for others, etc. It seems that you might just be one of the “good ones” that has an open mind and a desire to understand. Welcome! I hope our paths cross in the future.
    Kevin Eldridge

    • Kevin,

      Thanks for the compliments and I fully concur with what you said. Hopefully by all of us doing our little part, we can make an impact on the greater good.

      Dan

  20. Dr. Hudock,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I really appreciated your comments about the speech therapist who said that you were her first client who stutters and that you would have to learn together. You shared that the isolation you felt from that comment was overwhelming. That makes sense and I can’t imagine facing that feeling as a child. I want to remember how that made you feel as I face a similar situation as a new clinician because I would not want to make someone feel that way. What do you wish she would have said to you or what would you say to a client with an impairment that you have never treated before?

    Thanks,
    Renee R., Graduate Student
    Idaho State University

    • Renee,

      Great question! To be honest, I’m not sure. I think something along the lines of I’m not quite sure what to do, but there is hope and I will figure this out, or we will figure this out together. Something to provide support and hope.

      Thanks.

  21. Dr. Hudock.

    Thank you for your wonderful and inspiring story. The way you expressed your journey from your first experience stuttering all the way to sitting in your office treating and teaching those who stutter is remarkable. I admire your determination to never give up in pursuing your passion. My question that I pose to you is, how did your fellow classmates treat you throughout your clinical and graduate experience? Were they accepting? Judgmental? I look forward to reading your response.

    Thanks,

    Samantha N.

    • Samantha,

      Thank you for your compliments. My classmates have been very supportive for the most part, there has been a few Ph.D. students along the way, who didn’t quite understand the true components of stuttering. Most of the peers from my generation have grown up with increased acceptance and therefore have been supportive and very offended when I talk about my experiences with discrimination.

      Thanks,
      Dan

  22. Daniel,
    I appreciate your honesty, you have a very inspiring your story. I believe you have such an interesting perspective because you grew up as a person who stutters and you’re now involved in the speech-language pathology field. I am currently a second year graduate student studying speech-language pathology. In our fluency class we are learning different techniques that are used for stuttering, but we are also learning the importance of the feelings and emotions that are associated with stuttering. Based on your story, it seems like accepting your stutter was so important. Did you find yourself stuttering less once you accepted it? I was very surprised to hear you had difficultly with acceptance into graduate schools because of your stutter, since you truly have the most experience in this area. I believe we need more people like you to help teach other speech-language pathologists the most beneficial goals to address in therapy. With that said, is there any therapy techniques you strongly recommend for people who stutter?
    Thank you for sharing your story!
    Marissa

    • Marissa,

      Great question. For most of us who stutter, once we have come to terms with out mortal enemy our fluency tends to increase when we choose not to let it have as deep of a hold on us.

      I would recommend whatever the client feels comfortable, sounds the most natural to them and that they are willing to use outside of therapy. Then of course, therapy procedures that address emotional and social issues.

      Thanks,
      Dan

  23. Dear Dr. Hudock,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us! As a graduate student in communication disorders learning about stuttering for the first time, I love hearing personal accounts from people who stutter because it gives me a greater understanding of this aspect of our field. Based upon your first-hand account, I have some follow-up questions I hope you wouldn’t mind answering. First of all, did your parents ever talk about your fluency or were you first introduced to the fact that you were dyslfuent in preschool? I am very curious about awareness of stuttering in young children. I know that if children have secondary behaviors, they are likely aware of their dysfluency (Gage & Kelly, 1991). Did you have any secondary behaviors before your peers began talking about your stuttering? If you were made aware of your stuttering by peers, do you think that was more of a shock than it would have been if you were made aware of it by your parents? Secondly, you mentioned that there are other people in your family who stutter. Did your parents stutter and were they ever told by a clinician about the potential genetic component of stuttering? If so, what were their feelings about that? Because stuttering may be genetic, I think it is important to inform parents who stutter of the possibility that their child may stutter (Ambrose, Ehud, & Cox 1993). I think it is important to do so in a caring and gentle manner, but occasionally parents may feel like they are to blame for their child’s stuttering behaviors. Finally, when you were very young did you realize their (your family members who stuttered) speech was different or did you think it was typical since it was familiar to you? Research states that children can differentiate between fluent and non-fluent peers at a very early age, but I’m curious if the same applies to familiar adults (Ezrati-Vinacour, Platzky, & Yairi, 2001)?

    Thank you again for sharing your personal story about stuttering!

    Sincerely,
    Emily Kingshill

    • Emily,

      Thanks for the post. My mom and I would talk openly about it throughout preschool and the whole way up. I believe that I had some awareness of my stuttering, but to be honest, I don’t remember about any secondary characteristics specifically. I know that I would avoid eye contact when stuttering, and that I would talk with my hands a lot, but not sure about what else. Because of the openness of my stuttering at home, I would openly talk about it with my friends, so it was never a shock. But once again, I’m not sure about the sequence of the chicken or the egg. My grandmother on my mom’s side, my mom and my older brother stutter. I knew from an early age that there was a genetic component and remember my mom and I having a conversation in early elementary school that she felt responsible, but there were genetics at play. Because of the openness of discussing all things stuttering, there was not as much onus of blame or the need for it to be transmitted. As for your last question, I believe that you are asking if my mom recognized that I was stuttering. If that is your question, she did and during our home therapy time, she would stop me after the sentence and ask if I used my techniques then and I would go back and use the techniques while repeating the sentence. Another interesting side note is my brothers daughter has always noticed when my brother or I stutter, however never portrayed negative reactions as other children have done to our stuttering.

      Hope that I addressed your questions,
      Dan

  24. Dr. Hudock,

    Thank you for sharing your story! Reading about all of your encounters and obstacles that you faced in life as a PWS was truly a learning experience for me. As a future SLP, I feel your story is an inspiration to others. After having learned that many PWS go into the field of communication disorders, it was surprising you had been denied entry from your own undergraduate school due to “insufficient communication skills”. The message of staying positive throughout the bumps in the road, believing in yourself and believing that you can be an effective communicator is something I will share with my future clients.

    Sincerely,
    Jaclyn

  25. Dr. Huddock,
    My name is Ally and I am a second year graduate student studying speech-language pathology at Mercy College in New York. First of all, I wanted to thank you for sharing your story! I really enjoyed reading about your life as a child and how you’ve grown to accept and embrace your stutter. I think it is great that you chose speech-language pathology as a profession, as you have the ability to relate with and help others who stutter. It was so helpful to get your insight on therapy as a person who stutters. I thought it was so great when you stated, “but most of all there was someone who cared about me and provided me with a safe place to talk about my stuttering. The last point is the most meaningful by far; it did help me cope with something terrifying and unknown,” as counseling plays a huge role for an SLP when working with an individual who stutters. Did you ever feel frustrated in speech therapy because your SLP could not relate to you? Did he/she ever pseudo-stutter to help desensitize stuttering to you? If so, how did that make you feel? Thank you again for sharing your story and advocating for those who are not yet comfortable with speaking up for themselves!

    Warm Regards,
    Ally

    • Ally,

      Great questions. I didn’t know that it was an option for counseling, so I was frustrated by the emotional and social aspects, but didn’t know anything else. It was definitely frustrating that my SLP didn’t understand stuttering or what I was going through. They never pseudostuttered with me, but I think that would have completely changed the situation. I very much advocate clinicians pseudostuttering with their client and to naive communication partners in the presence of their clients!

      Best,
      Dan

  26. Hi Daniel!

    Thank you so much for you story, it really was insightful. Through all those roadblocks that you encountered, you never let stuttering define you as a person, and that is inspirational. As I was reading your story, I was completely baffled and stunned at the response from your undergraduate university, shame on them! I am so happy for you that you were accepted into another program and how great it was for you and changed your life for the better. I am currently in my second year of graduate school studying to become a speech-language pathologist and I have never worked with a person who stutters, so it was interesting for me to read about the “unnatural fluent voice” that you worked on in therapy. I am currently enrolled in a fluency course and we were able to sit with a panel of individuals who stutter and hear their stories and how their stutter and therapy impacted their life. After hearing their stories and asking them questions, it was found that acceptance of their stutter really is a crucial first step. Also, throughout our course, we were assigned and encouraged to pseudostutter on different occasions and in different environments. I found this to be one of the most helpful assignments and really an eye-opening experience. I think this would be a great experience for all speech-language pathologists to do, as it helps you have a better understanding of how a person who stutter feels when speaking with people and feeling all the emotions that come along with it. Do you have any other tips/advice for SLPs who will be working with individuals who stutter? Thank you again for sharing your story!

    Diana

    • Diana,

      It sounds like you have a great fluency professor and are on the right page for a very successful future! The most important advice I can give, is to truly understand your clients, their situations and openly talk about stuttering without the emphasis always being on fluency.

      Best,
      Dan

  27. Dr Hudock,
    Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. I am a grad student in a communication disorders program and I find I can do the best therapy when I have the opportunity to speak and listen to people. It seems that although there are certain techniques and strategies that can help at different times of your life, self-acceptance seems to be the biggest and broadest influence. Although there may always be times that are more challenging, knowing you have accomplished so much should only make you feel that much more confident and proud.

  28. Dr. Hudock,
    I really enjoyed reading your story. It was very insightful and inspirational. I am in my final year as a graduate student in the communication disorders program, as well as also taking a Fluency Disorders class. This is my first real experience in learning about individuals who stutter so I appreciate hearing your story. Now, after having accomplished so much, would you change anything that you felt or said or didn’t say to others as you were growing up as an individual who stutters if you could? Sometimes, looking back on a journey and seeing how far you have come, there are times when you wish you could go back and change something after knowing what you know now. Just wondering if you may feel the same about this!
    Thank you for sharing!
    -Alexa Spinelli

    • Alexa,

      Thanks for your questions, I’m glad that you saw benefit in my story. I would have liked to talk more about emotional and social factors. In my family we talked about it, but not having structured proposes for those talks may not have be as beneficial as it might have been if delivered by a professional.

      Best Regards,
      Dan

  29. Dr. Hudock,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I think it is beyond admiral all you have achieved in your life. You have overcame many obstacles and challenges that came your way. I was honestly shocked to read that a program denied you because you did not have “sufficient communication skills”. I am glad that was not influential in your decision for future submissions. I think you show a great deal of perseverance through the positive decisions you have made. I am currently taking a fluency class and am learning new things weekly. I also thought it was unique that your speech language pathologist had confided in you that you were her first fluency client.
    Monica

  30. Hi Dr.Hudock,

    Thank you very much for sharing your story, I sincerely enjoyed every bit of it. I am currently in a communication disorders grad program and I am enrolled in a fluency disorders class and it has been extremely interesting since the very first day. My exposure to stuttering prior to this class was with my younger brother who also struggled with stuttering as a child. He has since not stuttered, so I found it very interesting to read about your journey from a child to an adult who stutters. I especially enjoyed reading about your clinical experiences and playing your “fluency game” with your clinicians. What tips or recommendations do you have for clinicians when dealing with individuals who stutter?

    Best,
    Aziza Altaheri

    • Aziza,

      Thank you for your question and I’m glad that your brother is no longer stuttering. The best advice I can give is to try to understand you client, their situation, and do not solely focus on fluency during therapy.

      Cheers,
      Dan

  31. Dr. Hudock,

    It was truly inspiring to read your story. Your endurance and determination of never giving up, regardless of the disappointments you had to face, gives future SLPs (like me) a boost of confidence and determination as well as encouragement to keep on striving to learn something new every day. I want to be able to provide my clients and future clients with the best therapy possible. I am currently in my first semester of clinic and both of my clients have fluency disorders. Reading your story, made me think of various ways I can make a difference in the lives of my clients, even if it is a small difference. Showing empathy and by placing myself “in the shoes” of my clients can make a significant difference not only in the therapy room, but outside the therapy room as well.

    Your story inspires me to continue moving forward regardless of the disappointments and struggles that I may encounter now and in the future, so thank you for sharing!

    Monica D.
    Graduate Student in Communication Sciences and Disorders
    Long Island University
    Brooklyn, NY, USA

  32. Hello Daniel
    I am currently a second year graduate student at Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York. I am pursuing a master to become a Speech-Language Pathologist. Thank you for sharing your personal story. I really loved your story (thanks a lot). I will like to ask you some questions. How do you feel about support groups for people who stutter and have you go to any support group? In what situation do you think that you stutter the most (e.g., phone conversation)? What do you think about the techniques that SLP’s use in therapy? What do you do with your clients that you would have liked your speech therapist would have used with you?. As a future Speech Language Pathology, what advices could you provide me so that I could help my future clients who stutter to continue to stay motivated in pursuing their dreams as you did?
    Thank you so much
    Estefania Torres

    • Estefania,

      Thanks for the questions. Support groups and group therapy is great for stuttering! I’m a local NSA chapter leader for an adult and teen chapter in Southeastern Idaho. I stutter the most during introductions to strangers, regardless of the situation. Other than that it fluctuates. Most techniques help to some extent, but it changes how much it helps from individual to individual. The most important part is have the client choose a strategy that best suits what they want and need. I do a lot of generalization with my clients and do many procedures to address emotional, attitudinal, and social aspects. The most important part is try your best to understand your clients then feel and experience what they do as best you can.

      Hope this helps,
      Dan

  33. Hi Daniel,

    I am a student of Speech-Language Pathology, I wanted to share a personal experience while “pseudo-stuttering”.

    As part of a class assignment in Fluency, we were instructed to “pseudo-stutter” in three different environments. Our professor wanted us to understand the challenges faced by and the emotions felt by of a person who stutters.

    I “pseudo-stuttered” at an IHOP while ordering breakfast, at the movie theater while getting tickets, and on the phone for directory assistance.
    I exhibited part and whole word repetitions and pronlongations while at IHOP, whole-word repetitions and prolongations at the movie theater, and blocks while on the phone.

    First off, I felt so anxious, nervous, and fearful. I was sweating pretty badly and felt the need to apologize for the “pseudo-stutter” to others. I also felt embarrassed. If I felt these things and I am not a person who stutters, I can only imagine what it feels like to deal with this daily. I really enjoyed this assignment as it helped me want to treat a person who stutters with more respect and as an equal in every way including conversational turns.

    I mentioned this experience because it relates your experience when you were younger and the lunchlady at the cafeteria. She seemed to have become nervous or impatient by the disfluency and started to point to several items for you instead of allowing you to finish your words. That is exactly what I experienced at IHOP. The waitress provided me with options such as “sunny side up” and “scrambled” when I was stuck on the “s” sound while responding to her question: “How would you like your eggs?”

    At the movie theater, the ticket-booth person seemed embarrassed to be speaking with me when I exhibited prolongations and tried to hurry it along to get me out of her hair. The telephone operator thought the called was disconnected and hung up when I exhibited blocks.

    I can only imagine how frustrating it may be when someone doesn’t give the person the decency of finishing their own thought. It really stems from their own insecurities and feeling “bad” for the person, which I can understand to an extent. I think it’s important to share the message of self-acceptance for a person who stutters, and also a message of acceptance to those around us. I really appreciate your post, it was insightful and helps me to have a better understanding of stuttering.

    • I have my students do a similar assignment in my course. Prior to doing the assignment they are mostly anxious and are dreading the assignment, however after they have similar experiences as you. I think it’s a valuable experience for our future clinicians to have.

      Best Regards,

  34. my stuttering story

    Hi,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am a graduate student about to finish my final semester in Speech Language Pathology. I have had limited exposure to clients who stutter. What advice would you give me for encountering stuttering clients? Is there any one piece of advice that is more salient than treating stutters than other types of clients?

    Thank you,

    Victoria T.

    • Victoria,

      The best piece of advice I can give, is don’t solely focus on overt fluency, there is much more going on than just how someone sounds. Along with that most techniques help to varying extents, so give a few options and ask your client what they think sounds the most natural and what they will use outside of therapy. Crucial components of therapy are to talk about emotional and social aspects and help the client realize their true potential regardless of their stuttering.

      Hope this helps,
      Dan

  35. Dr. Hudock,

    First, thank you for sharing your story. I am a first year SLP graduate student, and have not yet worked with an individual who happens to stutter. Though I am inexperienced as a clinician, I believe that reading and hearing stories like yours are as important (if not more) than any book learning we could do about stuttering.

    I’d like to get your thoughts on the effectiveness of clinicians who stutter versus clinicians who do not stutter when working with clients who stutter. We have discussed this topic a bit in class, and I’d love to hear your opinion on this. Can SLPs who do not stutter be effective clinicians? Do you have any advice on working with people who stutter?

    Also, I’m curious… How have your experiences shaped you as a clinician?

    Thanks so much!

    Kate

    • Kate,

      Great questions. Interestingly, we just touched on this in my graduate course this past week. To be a good clinician for stuttering, or other disorders, the main thing a clinician needs is empathy and a willingness to share experiences. If a clinician is willing to experience stuttering by pseudostuttering or using fluency enhancing techniques with strangers, especially infront of their clients, it goes along way. I have known many nonstuttering clinicians who are absolutely wonderful, and truly understand stuttering. Some of them have even mentioned that they wish they did stutter so they could better understand. That is the sign of a truly empathetic person. The main advice I can give when working with someone who stutters is, treat the person, not the overt characteristics. If you openly talk about emotions, social factors and attitudes it will be a much more successful therapeutic experience for both you and your client.

      As a clinician I focus heavily on emotional and social factors attitudes and generalize constantly. I think it has helped me eventually see the bigger picture of therapy and the therapeutic process as a whole.

      Thanks for the questions.

  36. Thank you for sharing your personal story with all of us. I am an SLP graduate student and have not yet gained experience in working with clients who stutter.

    What advice or tips would you give clinicians to ensure their fluency clients are not just practicing their fluent speech in the therapy room, but also generalizing to other areas of their lives?

    Thank you again!

    Torri

    • Amy,

      The best advice I can offer is try to truly understand your clients by pseudostuttering, using techniques with strangers etc. I spend 90% of most sessions with my clients out walking around, making phone calls, talking to strangers with activities that they would use in their daily lives.

      Best

  37. Thank you for your story. I always enjoy hearing others perspectives. I always learn so much by looking at a situation from another point of view. I am a graduate student and have worked with one client who stuttered. I felt that he was very good at playing the “fluency games” during our sessions but would not generalize the information he learned. We also worked a lot on being comfortable with who he was and that he stuttered, which is why I loved what you said at the end, that it is “okay to stutter”. I think that is a very important lesson to be taught during therapy. What advice would you give to future SLP’s to implement this way of thinking into their therapy sessions? What can we do better to help clients to know it’s “okay to stutter” and to accept that?

    Thanks,
    Kate

    • Kate,

      I tell everyone of my clients that it’s okay to stutter, and more often than not, it’s the first time they’ve ever had anyone say that to them, so on occasion it becomes an emotional realization for them to have. During therapy I praise for the challenges that clients impose on themselves and for the attempted use of techniques, not just for fluency. We always initiate the session with technique free time where we talk about emotional aspects and build confidence using various structured and cognitive strategies. Also, I typically send my clients home with the homework of writing down three positive things about their stuttering to help set the stage for reframing their perception.

      Best.

  38. Hi Dan,

    “All of us have different roads we must take, different interests and goals that we seek, but determination and perseverance help us achieve all of our goals.” I loved this line in your paper. I think it shows that everybody has their own obstacles, and stuttering is just an article for some. I also like how you acknowledged that you were going along with treatment, but you found it to be almost unnatural. I was wondering, now that you are a certified SLP and have, I’m sure, worked with stutterers or, at least, have learned a lot about stuttering- do you still constantly obsess about your fluency whenever your speaking? Or have you become more lax about it?

    Megan

  39. Hi Dan,

    Thank you for sharing your journey and the impact that stuttering had on your life. I was glad to read that your story had a happy ending despite some of the obstacles that you faced along the way. I was also glad to read about your success throughout your childhood and adolescence. Did stuttering ever lead to you being bullied? Also, as a future SLP currently in graduate school, I am curious as to what could have made speech therapy more beneficial for you. I want to be as supportive as possible in my future career and would love to get your input on what you find most helpful in therapy for a person who stutters. Thank you again.

    Best,
    Amy

  40. Thank you for sharing your encouraging story! I am a first-year graduate student in Communication Sciences and Disorders, and this semester I am taking my first class devoted to stuttering.
    I found it interesting when you said that you, “rarely talked about stuttering during the early years.” Why do you think that was? Do you think it would have made a difference if you did? Would that have helped you understand the long-term goal of therapy, or do you think you were just too young?
    Thank you,
    Julia

  41. Dr. Hudock,
    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. You mentioned that when you were younger you did not find an SLP that was able to really help you. Now that you are a professor, what is your advice to graduate students on the best way to conduct therapy and interact with children who stutter? What kind of attitude do you believe an SLP should have when working with children who stutter? Is there anything specific you tell them to avoid?
    Thank you!
    Audrey

  42. Thank you for sharing your story Dr. Hudock- as a future SLP it is very inspiring and motivational. In my undergraduate schooling, I was privileged enough to be in a class with three PWS and I think this truly opened my eyes to learn more information on the population of individuals who stutter. I was surprised to see how many road blocks you ran into in our field due to the fact that you are an individual who stutters. I find this very upsetting because not one of us clinicians would know how to relate to a PWS like you would. I see you as a wealth of knowledge where as I’m amazed at the schools or individuals who might not have seen that in you. I found my past peers who stuttered very valuable and wonderful to be around in our field of study. I think it shows that awareness of stuttering needs to increase, which I do believe is slowly but surely happening.
    As a future SLP, I find it very motivating to know your past history with therapy and that I don’t want to make my clients work on a ‘perfect fluency game’, when in reality they most likely won’t use that type of voice until their next session with me. I would rather work on their attitudes towards their stuttering, and get them to the point of being ok with their stuttering. Again, thank you for sharing your story with us!

  43. Dr. Hudock,

    Wow, your story is one that will stick with me for a long time. I am studying to be an SLP and I am taking a fluency course now.

    Early on in your story, you mentioned that the SLP had you doing “unnatural sounding stuff”. I sometimes wonder how realistic some of these methods are, and worry that it may be discouraging to most individuals who stutter. How do you feel about most of these methods and approaches to therapy? How hard is it to find methods that follow evidence based practices?

    I have to say…I was shocked by the reasons why these graduate programs did not accept you primarily. You would think that professionals in the field would be more accepting and understanding. It just makes me sad to think that universities can do things like that. It frustrates me just reading about it, so I can only imagine how you felt.

    I actually saw that MTV episode about the individuals who stutter and I was surprised to see just how sever a stutter can be and the kinds of impacts it has on the quality of life. It wasn’t until I started dating a stutterer, that I started to understand some of the hardships. I am so happy to know that you were able to continue with your studies, complete your doctoral program, and receive your certifications. In class I learned that most SLPs who work with individuals who stutter are individuals who stutter themselves. It makes so much sense to me that way because no matter how knowledgeable I am about the stutter and how to treat it, I could never truly understand my patient’s struggles. I commend you for your perseverance and I am happy to have been given the opportunity to read your article. Thanks again for sharing!

    Edly V. (victorie)

  44. Dr. Hudock,

    Although I’ve heard parts of this story before, I want to thank you for being so open and honest about your experiences. I think that knowing about the emotional aspects of communication and taking them into account will make me a better SLP in the future.

    Gina

  45. Dr. Hudock,

    As a student in your course on Fluency, I appreciated reading a fuller version of your story than what I have been exposed to during class time. Your perspective and experience as a PWS gives me a lot of perspective as a beginning clinician.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Karine Maynard
    Graduate Student, Idaho State University

  46. I enjoyed reading your story, Dr. Hudock! It is a little bit overwhelming to think of all the things you had to overcome to get to where you are today. I’m personally thankful that you were un-deterred in you efforts so that you could teach all of us here at ISU. Thank you!
    -Melissa