I am what I am, and what I am needs no excuses

blomAbout the author: Anita Scharis Blom, born and raised in the Netherlands, is living in Sweden. She works as an operation manager for the Workers’ Educational Association. She is chairperson of the local stuttering chapter, international contact and former chairperson of the Swedish stuttering association, vice chair of the European League of Stuttering Associations, and member of the advisory board for the International Stuttering Association. She is a national and international speaker on stuttering and has her own stuttering consultant company. She is also a leader of national and international children and youth camps. She has stuttered since she was 9 and had a troublesome youth, now inspiring people who stutter of all ages, they can make a difference.” Her device is “S-s-sure I s-s-stutter. What are you good at?”
scatsis@gmail.com

After having struggled with my stutter for many years, denying myself, trying to be what other people wanted me to be, being bullied to the point I tried to commit suicide, my life changed as I finally found the stuttering world at the age of 27. (Do check out previous ISAD conferences where I tell my story at www.stutteringhomepage.com)

At that time, the “only” way of communicating with other people who stutter (PWS) was through “snail mail” and meetings (oh no, absolutely not by using that #%*! phone…), later on through email, discussion- and chat groups. Nowadays social media is a treasure chest of groups and people to share your stories with and Skype, Google Hangouts and similar make it even easier to get in contact with PWS and even therapists from all over the world. You can chat with people your age about the things you have in common, but also encourage youngsters to follow their dreams and learn from older ones who been-there-done-that. You can discuss therapies with speech language pathologists (SLP), advise parents on how to help their child who stutters and even invite friends, family and teachers to learn more about stuttering.

All these groups helped me to get back on my feet again. I can share my tears of struggle and my victories in speaking situations. They give me advice on how to tackle situations, give me explanations on why things (situations, people, stuttering etc) occur the way they do, comfort me when I feel down, pull me up and push me back on track, and pat me on the back when I’m on top, of the world.

After being on so many groups for many years I notice a pattern I’m not sure I understand. I recognize three groups of people (generalizing, I know.). There are people who feel life with a stutter is as bad as it gets or even worse. Their input to the groups is a cry for help. The second group still stutters, but are having the time of their lives, feeling great about themselves, even though life gives them lemons. The third group is the people who have reached fluency and want to share their joy with others. And sometimes these three groups don’t really get along…

happy_sad_fluent

Those who feel really bad about themselves and their lives are not always helped by those who tell them to get a grip, or by those who think the way they became fluent is the perfect (and sometimes even “only”) way to get rid of stuttering. Those who have happy stories and make jokes about stuttering are not always happy with those who directly add something negative, or by those who think you cannot lead a happy life and still stutter and tell you that you MUST try this course or that technique as that has helped them. While those who found “the cure” are put down by those who tried it (or don’t want/dare to try because of risk of “failure” and feeling even worse afterwards) and by those who think “chasing the fluency god” is only a way of trying to hide and increasing the fear of stuttering.

So why do we feel the need to change others, or even ourselves? We already have to deal with (still) way too many fluent people who don’t get it. Those who tell us how to “cure” stuttering. Those who tell us stuttering is not a problem and to stop nagging. Those who tell us how wonderful life is and how wonderful we are tralala. And although we may not always like them, deep down inside we know they mean well. But after being diagnosed last year with chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia and ME/cfs, I started looking how they deal with people who “know” all the answers, who tell them how to deal with the illness, that it’s between their ears and to enjoy not having to work (Oh my, if other people could walk a mile in our shoes for one day…). I also learned a lot from doing political work together with other disability organizations during many years, learning about their matters of the heart, their typical situations and the people they meet.

Those with disabilities who have been acknowledged the longest, have come far. They seize the day when they feel happy and do the things they themselves like and know they can do. They lock the door when they have a bad day, tugging themselves in a cozy blanket, phone off the hook, while recovering, waiting for the dark clouds to disappear, so that they can take a new deep breath and try again. And they laugh at, turn their backs to, or with loads of self-respect explain to, people who know how to “cure” them, what it’s like to have that disability or illness. They claim their right to simply be as they are and get respect. How often do people in a wheelchair get to hear they should get up and start walking? To not be afraid, take a pill or try that therapy that claims a 100% cure, so that people who can walk don’t need to feel embarrassed? So what makes us think we are not allowed to stutter, but instead feel the need to please the listener?

Back to those three groups.

I love talking and am no longer bothered by my stutter. I stutter freely, wear my different stuttering buttons to make people understand I’m not having a fit when I’m in a block and show them it’s ok to talk about stuttering. I make jokes on stuttering, have been on national and local tv, radio and in most of the national and local magazines, at least once a year. From being suicidal, I now travel the world being a keynote speaker, organize children and youth camps helping children and young people to feel good about themselves, am involved in all levels of stuttering associations, speak to local, national and international politicians and have had jobs I would never have thought I would get, simply because they, and I, believe in me. I’m proud of who I am despite my stutter and proud of what I do thanks to my stutter. And when I love my life, I want to share it with people, hoping they will share my joy.

But other days I hate my stutter. I hate not being able to speak freely at a table with people who have the gift of the gab, especially when there’s a lot of background noise. I hate it when I make a funny reply, and people didn’t hear it, as I know that I will stutter like crazy when they ask me to repeat it. I hate the phone, as I cannot see the reaction of the person on the other end. I hate when my stutter gets worse with intimidating people. I hate it when I can be totally fluent on stage, or even when recording a video, while the next moment I can stutter on every word. And when I hate my stutter like that, I want to share my nagging with others, hoping they will acknowledge my problems and tell me stuttering sucks.

I tried so many different therapies and other things that might be helpful. From therapies and technical aids, to certain stones and food. Today I know what helps me and what not to do to get more fluency. And, I want to share my knowledge with other people, hoping for them to try it too and sharing with me what has helped them.

What I’m trying to say is: although we are in one group, tomorrow we can be in the next, next week in the third. Let’s try to not want to change people, but simply acknowledge where they are at that moment and give the support they need, right then and there.

So to all people, PWS as well as fluent people: when we’re happy with life including stuttering, let us sing a tralala and don’t tell us tomorrow it will all go down the drain, as we know that. We just want to seize the day. If we’re nagging about how people once again laughed at us, finished our sentences or misjudge us, let us nag, as we know the sun will come out tomorrow, but today is a shitty day. And if you have the perfect cure, do tell us, but do not make us feel like lost souls, if we don’t try and buy it. Just give us that “Wow, so happy for you”, “Darn, what a shitty moment” and “Interesting, do tell us more”. As that’s the best hug we could even get.

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Comments

I am what I am, and what I am needs no excuses — 71 Comments

  1. Hello Anita!

    Thank you for sharing your story about your experiences and your insights about the three different groups you have observed over the years. I found it all very interesting and especially liked the comparison you used between individuals who are in a wheel chair and people who stutter, because it helped me understand more. I am happy to see that you have been able to take all your experiences and use them in a positive way and to inspire others. I am currently a student working towards becoming an SLP. Can you explain more about the different therapies and technical aids, such as using stones and different foods and how it has been beneficial for you?

    Thank you!

    Best,
    Ishna

    • Hi Ishna and thanks for stopping by. I have tried many therapies. Regular ones, hypnotherapy (back than I couldn’t relax), DAF (which helped me to get rid of my fear for the phone and to slow down my speech and articulate), chrystals (for ex http://www.healingcrystals.com/Crystals_to_help_with_a_Stutter_Articles_1456.html, but didn’t do me any good), vitamine B1 (no change), nutrition (f ex http://www.newsmax.com/FastFeatures/stuttering-help-medical-treatment/2010/10/20/id/374319/ , no change) etc etc. What has been the most helpful is a mix of stutter free speech and speaking circles with others who stutter, as well as NLP and mindfulness (to learn speech techniques and presentation skills how to speak in front of people, together with changing my mindset). As you can see in my presentation movie on the start page, I am completely fluent when videotaping myself (because of the techniques and because I don’t stutter when I’m alone), but I do still stutter, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, but although my speech is filled with (nowadays much less) stuttering, it’s fluent at the same time, as I got rid of all the physical additions, the blocks and the negative thoughts, so my speech “moves on” and is no longer a hinder in communication. I would not stop people from trying different things, as long as they don’t promise a cure, especially not a quick fix for a lot of money, because there is no quick fick. If there would be a magic cure, people would stand in line and the clinician would get the Nobel Price. 🙂 But if a client wants to try NLP, a herb, yoga or any other method to ease blocks, let them try, but with an open mind and not with anticipation of being fluent, as that is only a dream. Fluency is hard work over a long period of time. So with guidance of an SLP with an open ear and mind, who listens to what the client wants and needs, asks a lot of questions and is willing to try different things, I’m sure the client will make progress. Thanks for becoming an SLP. We need people like you. 🙂
      Keep talking
      Anita

  2. Hi Anita!

    I am currently a student in Communication Science and Disorders in hopes of becoming a SLP as well as striving to learn more about stuttering. Thank you so much for sharing your story and experiences! Your work in supporting and encouraging others who stutter is inspirational. I loved what you said about acknowledging where someone is at and giving the support that is needed at that moment. Your insights helped me to have a better understanding. You mentioned connecting with people who stutter, and therapists from around the world with regards to advising parents on how to help their child who stutters. What advice would you give a parent? Also, what types of things were you referring to that you know to not do to get more fluency?

    Again, thank you!

    Marri

    • Hi Marri. Thanks for your kind comments and good questions. From the many years of children and youth camps, I met a lot of parents and they bring up the same things, year after year:
      – I wish I had known there was a stuttering association
      – I thought it was my fault
      – I don’t get help or understanding from child health care or school, as they tell me to wait or not to bother.
      So when they find our website, read about stuttering, join the association, come to a camp, it clicks. Thet see their children directly mingle with the other kids, (and the leaders who also stutter), something they wouldn’t do with another group of kids, and don’t see their kids again other than when they need to get some sleep. 🙂 They meet other parents with exactly the same fears and questions and, on top of all, get to hear it’s NOT their fault. They also learn about their rights, about what stuttering is about, what they and their children can do to make a change. They also learn that therapy/therapist is not a one-size-fits-all, but that they might have to try different therapists/therapies to find the one that makes their child want to open up and work with the therapist. And the therapist might need to work outside the book, focussing on what might work with this very child. That’s why it’s good to specialize in stuttering and the different approaches, and maybe even learn more about psychology, to get the child to talk about what’s inside the heart and mind. And I’d also highly recommend SLPs to join a children camp. Just to observe, play with the kids, talk to the parents and to ask questions, to learn BUT NOT TO TREAT.

      What to not do? Oh, where do I start. 🙂 To keep it inside. To chase the fluency god. To believe people when they say you can’t do this and that, or to believe people when they say to have the magic cure. All those dissapointments bring you down, lower and lower, until you believe it’s you who’s the failure. I also learned that stuttering is a puzzle and that many pieces are needed to get the puzzle solved. Sometimes you search and search, ut cannot find one single piece, while the next day you see the piece you were looking for. My puzzle is still not solves, but is making a nice picture, and the puzzling on itself is the part I love the most. 🙂 I was suicidal , (do check out my stories at previous conferences) and when I learned there were others like me, that there was help, that it wasn’t my fault, I became angry. So I finally decided to be ME. I stopped fighting my stutter and started fighting ignorance. My fluency comes from being me plus a mix of stutterfree speech, public speaking, NLP, Mindfulness and expending my comfort zone. And not focusing on the goal, but to enjoy the journey. 🙂

      Keep talking!

      Anita

  3. A beautifully written piece. I really like how you describe the love/hate relationship one has with stuttering. Can very much relate. Even though we may reach acceptance with our stuttering, we still may have difficult days but that’s OK.

    • Exactly! We need to ackowledge outselves, find out who we are, where we are and what we want. I learned to not let stuttering define me. Stuttering is not who I am, it’s what I do. I am so much more. I also learned not to blame all on my stutter, but to examine myself and accept that some things are due to my personality. I also learned to filter advice, as people don’t know me nor my situation. So, as wise men say: walk with me, not in front or behind, just beside me. And to my stutter I’d say: I don’t like you, but at least you keep my fire up and take me to amazing people. 🙂

      Keep talking!

      Anita

    • Thank YOU, Hanan, for walking by my side on this journey. As I wrote in another reply: we need people to walk with us, not in front or behind us, not telling us what to do and what not do, but simply to walk with us. To give just enough pushing, teasing, advice, opposition, nourishment and encouragement to make us feel we’re not being stopped, held back or pushed to change, but to help us get where we want, determined and on our own feet, with a little help from our friends. 🙂 You’re a great friend and paying it forward. We all thank you for that.

      Hugs and keep talking

      Anita

  4. Anita,

    Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful and powerful post. I am currently studying to be an SLP, and your experience and story really touched my heart. I admire your perseverance to overcome difficult times in your life and to turn it into something positive. I also liked how you said that you wear stuttering buttons, and you’re proud of who you are despite your stutter. I’m proud of you too! You mentioned that when you struggled with stuttering, the only way to communicate with others was through mail, meetings, or the telephone. Do you think that advances in technology such as email, social media, texting, etc. have impacted your current outlook on stuttering? Can your success and acceptance of stuttering be attributed to these advancements?

    • Thanks so much for your encouraging words, Stefanie! And thanks for becoming an SLP. We need more people like you. 🙂 Yes, I definitely believe technology has helped me, even if the knife cuts both ways. Thanks to modern technology, I learned about stuttering, I got into contact with the stuttering community, we have speech training and chats through Skype and Google Hangouts, we can arrange international meetings through email and don’t have to wait for the post to finally get that letter to us. It’s faster, it’s direct. But… for some it stops them from getting out and meet people, avoid the phone (I still don’t like it, but do use it, also because I advertise about my stuttering so most people know what to expect from me on the phone), some people believe everything that’s been written on the internet and some technology won’t accept stuttering (voice activated services f ex). Is my, as you call it, success and acceptance the cause or the result of technology? I wouldn’t say either. The day I got a folder in my hand, my life changed, as I took contact and met up with the local group. But technology helped me to get in touch with so many more, with so much more information. So it did broaden my world, my friends are all over the world, I learned so much and am still learning as information updates so fast through the internet, compared to books, I use my language skills and get to travel (although I was told not to study languages as I wouldn’t go anywhere anyway) and soon I will be a presenter at a conference abroad, while I’m at a conference in Sweden, thanks to Skype. 🙂 So my answer would be: it makes my life easier, the information wider, the friendship circle bigger. But we shouldn’t forget technology cannot replace face-to-face, with a smile, a hug and a friendly voice, with stuttering and all. For what would we do if volcano ash wipes out all technology. 🙂 Thanks for your interesting questions. You’ll make a wonderful SLP.

      Keep talking

      Anita

  5. Hi Anita!
    I loved hearing your story. I think it’s so great and positive that you can be such a wonderful role model for others. It was inspiring to read about your youth and how you turned it around to become such a positive person and inspiration to other people who stutter around the world. I also enjoyed hearing about your “seize the day” attitude! Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    Brynn

    • Thanks Brynn for your positive feedback. I just try to be the person I so wished to find when I was in my “dark years”. I wish more people would stand up, speak up, as there still are so many who don’t know there are others just like them, parents who think it’s their fault their child stutters, teachers who have no knowledge etc. We need people to show stuttering is something we do, not something we are and we need role models who show all is possible. Hope you are one of them. 🙂 Do spread the news about the conference!

      Keep talking

      Anita

  6. Hi Anita — thank you so much for those words of wisdom!! Wisdom that all of us, including those who do not stutter, can use every day. I so appreciate that you’ve pointed out that these labels can and are fluid — and there’s value in accepting your label of the day, hour, minute by being kind to yourself, knowing this too will pass. Lovely lovely — thanks again!
    Best,
    Dori Lenz Holte

    • Thanks Dori, for your kind words. It’s so easy to put a label on people, and judge them within the frames we know, instead of meeting people where they are. And exactly as you state, labels are fluid. When I feel good today, I can meet you where you are, maybe I can even tolerate you kicking my butt in a friendly and supportive way, but when I have a bad day, I might need you to just be there for me. Forrest Gump said it so well: “Life’s a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Some days we just want a piece of chocolate and a hug, to turn into Superman the day, or hour, after. We’re human who are lead by emotions. And so happy for that. 🙂

      Walk with me and keep talking
      Anita

  7. Anita,

    This is a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing! When you speak to young children who stutter it is often hard for them to understand why they do it. What key points do you tell them? Thank you for sharing your story, I love your positive attitude!

    Shelby

    • Hi Shelby and thanks for your questions. Young children not always want to know WHY they do what they do. When I speak to a class I tell them about my life. About my tough youth and where I am today. Through that I teach them that life might be tough, but not impossible. I talk about what bullying does to people and that we’re all good (football, singing), and not good at things (cleaning your room, jumping high). And that that’s a good thing, as people who are good at everything are no fun to be with, but that it’s nice to help and get help from people, as that creates friendship. I tell them about my camps and travels and there’s always a child saying “I want to stutter to!”. 🙂 I try to make them focus on what they are good at and that stuttering doesn’t make them lesser persons. It simply makes them different persons. And different doesn’t mean you need to change. Superman was different. 🙂 Being black was “wrong” before, now there is a black president. Stuttering was “wrong”, but look at King George, who talked his people through a war. I don’t give them answers. I give them thoughts. And they answer. With sparkled eyes. 🙂

      Keep talking!

      Anita

  8. What is the way to encourage a client to continue trying a strategy that seems too hard at the beginning? I am looking for wording that can be empathic and persuasive at the same time.
    Katia

    • Thank you for your interesting question, Katia. You cannot make people change if they are not ready, no matter what you say and how right you are. They have to have a reason, a drive. I tried to loose weight, but every time I tried a method and lost weight, than went back to normal food and gained it again, I finally gave up. And I just hate those people who have never had weight problems, telling me what to do, how to feel and what to think. On the other hand I did quit smoking, as I made a deal with my husband that he also had to quit something. And we both managed. That’s the power of self help. You meet people just like you, who know what it’s like, who struggle just like you, but also others who have been there, done that. Role models. People you would like to be like (and for some that means people who managed to become fluent, for others that means people who managed to enjoy life, with stuttering and all). So basically I cannot give you an answer to that question, as it’s so different from one person to another, depending on their backgrounds, their environments, the support around them etc. That’s why I wish therapy would open up to family and friends. To give an assignment for both the client and his/her best friend. That way the client has the support, while the friends gets understanding for the problem. ANd to work together with the stuttering self-help movement. Not instead of therapy, but as a complement!

      Wishing you good luck and keep talking

      Anita

  9. Dear friend Anita – thanks for a great contribution. I am always so inspired when you share so personally from such an honest place. I’m glad to see that you shared about the positives and the negatives – what has helped you and what you hate about your stuttering.
    Sometimes I think people misunderstand acceptance and think that because we accept and usually embrace our stuttering, there are still times we wish it would go away. I experience the same – wishing I wouldn’t stutter at important times or feeling shame creep in uninvited.
    Thanks for always sharing of your self and leading by example.
    Pam

    • Thanks my dear friend Pam. Yes, we’ve both come a long way, but we still remember where we ame from and acknowledge the daily struggle we still live through. The best help is support. When a person falls, the first thing we ask them is “can you move your arm/leg/head”, instead of carrying them directly. But somehow we miss to ask people where they are and what they want help with, in every day life. As a previous person wrote: we label people, but labels are fluid. They can change from day to day, moment to moment. If I stutter with a salesperson on the phone, I even smile and think “right back at ya”. 🙂 But when my listener is a person reading my lips and I stutter, and (s)he doesn’t understand me, I feel sad. But hey, that’s what we call life. And as long as we realize we all have our moments, and that perfect people are no fun being with, the smile will always win over the tears.

      Thanks for all are, all you do and being such a great friend to so many.

      Keep talking

      Anita

  10. Dear Anita,

    Thank you for sharing your story! Your work has touched so many lives – you are an inspiration! I love how you explained the three categories of PWS and how in truth, a PWS can fall into any one of those categories at any given moment. In your opinion and experience, for PWS who want to embrace their stutter, do you think stutter modification therapy is a good tool in helping them stutter more “easily” and confidently? Or would this approach be considered a way of changing yourself, thus, detracting from your choice to stutter freely? Thank you!

    Sincerely,
    Vanessa

    • Thanks Vanessa, you really understood what I was trying to explain. I do think stuttering modification is a much more important tool than chasing the fluency god. A technique that teaches how to get out of a block, how to stop tics and extra movements, how to become a better speaker in general and how to embrace yourself when you have a bad stutter day, are great tools. Noone, not even fluent people, have fluent speech all the time. Speaking in front of a group is the greatest fear for a reason! So working on fluent speech might create fear of non fluency and fear of certain situations that are a higher risk for stuttering. Working on making stuttering more manageble and changing how you look at your stutter will help you focusing on managing communication and life itself. I don’t want to change myself. Onthe contrary. I’ve forced myself to become another people, just because I thought that would please them and get the focus off my stutter. At the age of 18 I realized I not only lost my youth and my future, I lost myself, and that made me suicidal. What I needed was to change the way I looked at myself, my stutter and life itself. And the tools were, as I just mentioned, getting the edges of my stutter, working on communication skills and changing my mindset. And that helped me to become in charge. Of my stutter, my personality and my future. I still stutter and am no longer ashamed (I even talk about it whenever I can), but I can use the techniques when I have to, I am true to myself and am back to who I am, I do the things I was afraid of and when I speak, people listen. And that is both a trapeze act and a safety net. 🙂

      Good luck with your work and keep talking

      Anita

  11. Hi Anita!
    I LOVE your realness in this beautiful piece. You make such an important point when you talk about people simply being okay with wherever you are on a day, in a particular moment. There is such power in acknowledging a shitty moment, and letting it go.. because IT IS OKAY! People don’t need to “cure” a person who stutters, or “fix” a person with depression/anxiety or whatever it may be. We all just need to be okay with where we ourselves are, and where other people are. Allowing space for whatever it is that we are feeling, giving ourselves the gift of watching it from a 3rd person point of view and not being immersed, absorbed or completely involved in that moment is invaluable. We all have thoughts/emotions/physical attributes .. but we ARE not those things… we are so much MORE than those things. Really, on a deeper level, we are all one in the same.. and we are all LOVE. If we can all work to see beyond the overt, and go inside and see what’s on a deeper, more subtle level.. I think we will all be happier with ourselves, and the world will be an easier place in which to live. THANK YOU so much for sharing your insightful perspective on things. It really made me think,
    Smiles and Love,
    Erica

    • Wow, Erica, thanks for your amazing words. And you really get the key issue of my paper: no matter how you feel, IT’S OK! Because when I’m ok, I can take a friendly and encouraging kick in the butt. And when I’m not, I might need different things on different moments: a big box of chocolate, a hug or someone to kick waste bins with me. 🙂 And at moments when I look and sound confident, maybe it’s at that very moment I need a hug more than any other moment. At youth camps, I start with rules, threats and bans, than I tell them my hugs are famous and that my door is open 24/7. So they know from the evening they arrive, that I’ll be there, kicking butts or with open arms, and that they decide how THEY want me to be. And there are always people who surprise me and who make an 180 degree turn when they let their guard down. The party people who cry, the silent people who suddenly become a spokes person, the tough one who is begging for a hug. Thanks you for your understanding. I’d love to meet you in person.

      Keep talking, and hugging

      Anita

      • Anita,
        Your perspective is so beautiful!!! We all should strive to create space for our feelings and the feelings of others- and this space would optimally be warm, safe, and without judgement (: At the same time I love how you bring into awareness the importance of boundaries, and having choices and decisions to make (in your youth camp example). It is all such a delicate balance. I love your message of empowerment and thank you SO very much for sharing and responding to my comment (:
        Blessings and hugs,
        Erica

        • Thought of you when I read this the other day (Here it is though you may have already read it yourself):
          “Accepting means you allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling at that moment. It is part of the isness of the Now. You can’t argue with what is. Well, you can, but if you do, you suffer.” – Eckhart Tolle

          <3

          • Thanks again for giving me such credit. I’m inspired with your words and I loooooove quotes, but haven’t read yours before, so thank you. Be in the NOW, acknowledge, act or accept. Such wisdom! I’ve had a lot of help and understanding from NLP and Mindfulness and your quote really hits home for me. I hoe our paths will meet one day.

            Hugs and keep talking

            Anita

  12. Anita,

    Thank you for sharing your amazing story. I am sure that people who stutter are very inspired by how you have handled the challenges you have faced and the experiences you have had because of your strength. As several others above, I am currently in a master’s program and working towards a degree in Speech-Language Pathology. I am curious, as a child did you go to any type of speech therapy? If so, was it helpful? If not, how do you think it would have impacted you? I also wanted to let you know that I love how you sign your posts as “keep talking” 🙂

    Jessica

    • Hi Jessica and thanks for your questions and your interest in helping pws. My private story is a horror story, which I wrote about in the many previous papers I wrote for the ISAD conference. At home I was not allowed to stutter and it was “my fault and thus my responsibility to get rid of it”. In school I was bullied to silence by classmates and either not accepted or bullied by teachers. I was told to not continue my studies. I went to an SLP in my mid teens who sexually assaulted me. I went to another one in my late teens who, as I wasn’t successful, told me it was my fault I stuttered. Needless to say I tried to commit suidice. My life changed when I met other pws at the age of 27. I learned to accept myself, to fight for my (and other pws´s) rights and started speech training with a group of pws who practice a mix of stutter-free speech and public speaking. The first years I learned the techniques, but couldn’t apply them. Until I got a job in school (yes, stuttering teacher!) and I finally found out how, and why, to implement these techniques. As I learned communication is the key thing. So many fluent people cannot communicate, while pws can win Toastmasters competitions over fluent people. So, as I replied to earlier people who posted, a mix of techniques to stutter more easily, public speaking skills, overcoming fears and working on self esteem and self image, meeting other pws, bringing parents and friends into the therapy room (or even get out of that room, as the room is like watching Magnum in Floriday and than having to get out in a snowstorm and get a gun to your head) and try to find our where your client is, that day, that moment and have a big box full of different approaches for that very state. Yes, it’s hard to be a SLP, but what a challenge and how rewarding! 🙂 And yes, I became silent. I wished God would make me mute, as in my eyes being mute was accepted, while being a pws wasn’t. Now I shout it from the roof tops, am in the media all the times, where my buttons and enter stuttering into all conversations. Because if I would have known there were others, that there was help, my youth would have been a different one. And I still get to hear stories similar to mine at youth camps. This has to STOP! And we can only make it stop by bringing it into the open. So yes

      Keep talking, it’s life saving

      Anita

  13. Anita,

    Thank you so such a powerful and insightful post. It is truly amazing how you put everything into perspective. I am currently a graduate student studying to be a speech language pathologist and I am taking a course on stuttering. Anxiety and stress plays a role in the people who stutter. Do you believe it would be wise for us, future SLP’s, to take a counseling course to better help individuals who stutter? Also, I know technology has played a huge impact on the world today. How do you believe all the social media is influencing the individuals who stutter?

    Thank you,
    Safa

    • Hi Safa and thanks for the important questions you ask. Yes, anxiety and stress play a huge role. Stuttering is not caused by stress or anxiety, but these are results and they can increase stuttering. Now that doesn’t mean we need to avoid them, on the contrary. We need to learn how to deal with it, safely, slowly and in a way that fits that very client. And always remember it’s easy fora person who has never smoked to tell a person to stop smoking. So yes, do learn more about how people think and act. I’ve had much help from NLP and Mindfulness. We not always know why we do what we do, so if you can shed a light, that would defenitely be a great help to try and change a certain behavior. Do remember not to change the person into what (s)he is not, but to try and get the client to re-become her/his own true self and show what’s inside. Because confidence, self esteem and knowledge helps to make those first steps to move forward, in life and in therapy. Technology has been amazing. I meet and chat with pws and slps, I even do speech training online, I read about therapy and watch videos on YouTube, I spread information through my many social media channels, I used DAF to get over my fear of phone calls. And as long as it’s not a hideaway, but an addition, and if you’re aware that not all that’s on the internet is true and stay critical, it’s a great tool. Especially groups for pws, where they can learn and share, is a treasure, not only for pws, but also for slps. And yes, you’re most welcome. 🙂

      Keep talking

      Anita

  14. Hi Anita!
    I really enjoyed your story. It was very enlightening. I am a graduate student majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders. I hope to one day become an SLP were I might help one person find their voice and share their story. I am trying to learn more about stuttering and people’s thoughts and feelings, whether they stutter or are fluent. I really liked how you pointed out the three types of groups. It makes total since. At any given point anyone can fall into a group: fluent, happy, or sad. I agree on the point you made about not trying to change people, but understanding them where they are at and given them the support they need. This can apply to anyone with or without a disability. Would you advise other SLPs to encourage their clients to join groups on social media that focus on stuttering? Also, if you had any advice to give an up and coming SLP, what would it be?

    Thanks,
    Angela

    • Thanks Angela for your insight and thoughful questions. I have given advice to other SLPs earlier on, so please read my comments to them as well. Yes, I strongly recommend your clients to join FB groups for pws, live chats through stuttersocial hangouts, share stories and learn about how other people deal with stuttering and therapies etc. There are even special groups for teens, parents, HBTQ etc. But to also be critical, start with yourself, who you are and where you are, and not believe in everything you read. Also to go to places where pws meet, conferences, local meetings etc. There’s nothing like meeting others who GET IT! Kids need to meet kids, teens need to meet teens, parents need to meet parents, and all are welcome, even friends, neighbors, and… SLPs. 🙂 We’re all a piece of the puzzle. So my advice to you is: read my replies to other SLPs, meet the client where (s)he is, don’t just focus on the stuttering itself, but look at the whole person, have a suitcase of therapies at hand, and you might become a therapist at stuttering conferences who applaud and cry with their clients, as I believe it’s one of the most rewarding client group. 🙂

      Keep talking

      Anita

      • Anita,
        Thank you for your reply. I will definitely take you advise to heart. You have a wonderful story and your paper was very inspiring. I agree, this group is rewarding. Keep on sharing you thoughts and feelings. Good luck on your future endeavors and speaking engagements.

        Thanks again,
        Angela

        • Thank you so much, Angela. It shows you’re gonna be a great asset to pws and I hope stuttering will be your major, so that you can make the difference you clearly show you have in you.

          Hugs and keep talking

          Anita

  15. Anita,
    Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I found so much inspiration from what you have written and your words have opened my eyes to another aspect of fluency and stuttering. In high school I remember a boy who I had several classes with. He was a PWS and he too openly stuttered without fear or embarrassment. Looking back I recall that he was never picked on or talked over, and he was never asked to stop talking. I believe it was because he had accepted himself and therefore so did everyone else. I would love to hear you speak about your story and everything you have overcome to reach the point you are at now. Do you have any plans of speaking in the United States in the near future? Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and being completely honest and open!
    -Lorin

    • Thanks Lorin for your kind comments. SO happy to hear about that boy in your class. Most people like a person who is confident in his/her non-perfectness. Who wants to be with a person who’s perfect, as it makes us feel in-perfect. And seeing that boy maybe reminded others that it’s ok to each have our own differences and still feel ok about ourselves. Do read my comment to Jessica above, as that’s a synopsis of my life. I have been the keynote speaker at the NSA and plan to come to the world congress in 2016. But I’d gladly tell my story about my long and winding road if I could get my travel expenses sponsered somehow. If there would be more organisations joining hands to cover my travel expenses, I’d gladly go on tour. 🙂 Looking forward to meet you, Lorin.

      Keep talking!

      Anita

  16. Greetings Anita,

    I am a graduate student working on my Master’s Degree to become a speech-language pathologist. I enjoyed reading your paper and am thrilled to learn of your passion about advocating for not only yourself but also our young people who are working through these feelings. I cannot say I understand the thoughts and feelings a person who stutters may experience because I am not a person who stutters. But I can understand how some negative thoughts and feelings can make life frustrating especially for those already at the awkward ages of finding their place in the world. Our youth are very impressionable and lifting their spirits in such a positive manner is key when they encounter their own bad days. But on those days when the words do not come out right, do you have techniques you can use? Do you have some positive thoughts you can tap into in your memory which can uplift you on these days? Additionally, I saw in your bio where you have been stuttering since you were a child, were there any words of encouragement you wished an adult might have said to you when you were a child? What kinds of things do you find most rewarding when working with youth?
    Thank you for sharing your story and your insights with the world!

    Sincerely,
    Jennifer

    • Thanks Jennifer for your insightful remarks and your questions show what a wonderful SLP you’re turning out to be. I truly hope you’ll chose pws, as we’re both a challenge and a reward. 🙂 First let me start by asking you to read the replies I gave to other students and pws above, especially those I gave to Jessica. My passion started after having had a horrifying youth and at the age of 27 meeting other pws. I promised myself to do anything in my power to raise my voice and help others to not go through what I had to go through. And yes, young people are thr toughest age, as they are looking for themselves, have to prove themselves to others, lots of things are going on in their lives and stuttering is a huge brake in all of this. But do read the papers starting with ELSA (European League of Stuttering Association). They tell a story about how they changed and how they see themselves and the world around them now. At our youth meetings we’ve had workshops on body expression, talking about emotions, communication, public speaking, body language, persuasion skills etc. Learning how to become a better speaker, with body and mind, helps both to gain more fluency AND to speak no matter what. (One guy just wrote “I recorded a video and I didn’t stutter. What to do now…” Amazing!) That way they are not focused on stuttering or how to become fluent, but on how to deal with stuttering situations. What made things “click” for me was f ex getting a boyfriend. (Me, the stuttering “idiot”?) I got a summer job, which turned into a permanent one. (Me, who was told I was a looser, by kids AND adults?) A high rank person coming in, asking me a question and I stuttered heavily. He then asked for my boss. He replied “If you want help, ask her, as I don’t have time and she knows everything I know”. I still get goose bumps recalling this very moment. To hear people comment on who you are and what you do, instead of the way you talk. People who help you focus on what you’re good at instead of (what YOU think) you’re not that good at. People who show you who you’ve become THANKS TO and DESPITE your stuttering. When I speak in classes I try to make stuttering cool. When I get kids to say “I want to stutter” or “I want to come to your camps”, “I want to be your friend” and asking for my autograph, I’m happy, because that paved the way for other kids who stutter. So bring pws to schools and let them tell their story. When having disability or anti-bullying days, have a pws to come and talk. As way too many teachers still no nothing about stuttering or still think bullying is when one kids pushes another. The silent bullying is so underestimated! An SLP can talk to teachers and talk about stuttering and recommend such actions. We’re all pieces of the puzzle and if we all stand up, speak up, we wouldn’t have to feel like we’re the odd ones out, but like the cool ones in. 🙂 Because what we say is worth repeating.

      Keep talking

      Anita

  17. Anita,

    I always find it insightful when reading papers such as this. Having a disorder as life changing as stuttering can have such a big impact on your life, as you have described. You had stated that you were given advice on how to tackle situations when it came to stuttering. Through supports such as social media, what was the most helpful advice you have received?

    Thanks,
    Amanda

    • Hi Amanda. You’re so true that stuttering is life changing. So many people think we’re either people to feel sorry for, people to mock or who think stuttering is no big deal. You have to explain over and over again that we do have a lot of obstacles we need help and understanding with, that stuttering is not funny, but that the situations we wind up into can be funny. A how it would feel to the phone in your ear, to be afraid of getting married because of the wedding vows, to have problems reading bed time stories to your child, or to have people wonder why you “don’t know” you’re own name. Stuttering sucks, but fortunately, life doesn’t. But also “advice” can suck. People telling you to take a deep breath, to take it easy, to not be afraid, to take that 2-days course and forever be cured, to eat this and drink that. Or like the woman who told me to swallow the first letter in each word, when I told her I usually stutter on the first letter. – sked -er -ow – -ould -uppose -o -rder – -eal -n estaurant… Social media, chat groups and irl conferences and meetings changed my life. To meet people who get it. You can either talk about stuttering all the time, and they get it. Or you can talk about anything but stuttering, and they still get why. You don’t have to pretend not to explain. In the beginning I had a million questions and got ten million replies from patient people. When I was down, they huged me and gave me tools to get back up again. When I was on a high, they cheered me. Words like “be your own tru self”, “you better love, accept and respect yourself and your stutter, and stop focussing on other people’s approval, as you’re the only one who has to live with you and yuor stutter”, “most people don’t care about your stutter, they hear you, wonder what it is, and move on to their own thoughts and activities” and quotes like “whether do think you can or cannot do it, you’re right” made so much sense. But do try it sometimes. 🙂 Whether you’re a pws, a parent, a friend or a therapist, there’s so much to gain from social media, chat groups, online video hangouts and conferences.

      Keep talking.

      Anita

  18. Hello Anita,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and perspective! I am currently in graduate school studying to become an SLP, and the insights and stories that people who stutter share are invaluable to me in informing my future interactions with clients and people who stutter. Thank you for helping to contribute to my future practice. 🙂

    One of my professors, Dr. David Shapiro, talked about how important it is for someone who stutters to not feel that they are alone. I cannot imagine how it would feel to be the only person in a small community who stutters, and to not know (or be able to interact with) other people who also stutter. I really enjoyed that in your article you touched on how technology has impacted the interaction of the stuttering community!

    It especially interested me that you seemed to see a trend online of 3 separate parties into which people who stutter tend to fall. I’m curious if you see these as separate groups, or as more of a continuum? I’m also wondering if there is a role that you think SLPs can play in this online community. Additionally, do you believe that this online breadth of information and experiences will simplify or complicate the next generation’s quest for fluency?

    Thank you very much for your time and insight.

    Sincerely,

    Elizabeth Rose

    • Hi Elizabeth. You are trained by one of the Masters who’ve been there done that. Lucky you. Those three groups are not separate groups, they can be me at different times of the week, or even the day. I can record a video, be completely fluent, and still be sad, as my message was for and from a pws. I can stutter a lot and feel on top of the world, as I feel good about myself no matter what. I can also suddenly meet a person who touches a still sensitive string and brings me down on my knees. I think the role of a pws and the role of a slp in this case can be the same: meet the person where s/he is. See where the pws wants help with. This can be fluency, this can be self esteem, it can also be to start stuttering openly and stop hiding. Try to find out why this person wants just that. Is it because s/he wants it, or is it because others want it for him/her? The increased information can lead either way. It’s like all young people have to learn: think critically. If a person is on every facebook group promoting a weekend or online cure and costs a lot of money, it might be fake, as if s/he would have the cure for all, s/he would not need to vacuum all the groups, as people will know and stand in line. At the same time that fb group can be a wealth of support to find out what helps for them and what not. I think the best answer to all your questions is: have an open mind, listen and learn. Hope I make some sense. 😉

      Keep talking

      Anita

      • Hi Anita,

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I really appreciate it!

        Sincerely,
        Elizabeth Rose

  19. Hi Anita! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I like how you said you still have some days that you hate your stuttering and not being able to speak freely. Many people who stutter can relate to the frustration of the “roller coaster” of stuttering and the emotions that accompany the ups and downs. What are some things you do or tell yourself on the days you hate your stuttering? Thank you!

    • Yes, the roller coaster is still the part about my stuttering that frustrates me the most. I’ve met several blind people who stutter and they all say they prefer being blind over stuttering, as being blind is stable; they know what to expect. While I can be fluent recording the welcome video and stutter on every word when the phone rings. But I learned to take it as it comes. Mindfulness and NLP has helped me a lot to neutralize the emotional roaller coaster. To not be angry at me, my stutter, the listener or the situation, as no one is to blame and I can’t undo it, nor can I prevent things from happening. So to live in the moment, not look back and not try to predict the future. It sounds easier as it is, but after many years of working with the emotional part of stuttering, that’s what works the best for me, if not always. Do try both Mindfulness and NLP. There’s a wealth of information on the internet and in the library.

      Good luck and keep talking

      Anita

  20. Really enjoyed your article, reminded me of all the great things you do for us pws. A little thing just like writing an article like this can change so many lives, like with the work you do for young people has changed my life and hundreds more for the better. I am glad you are a role model for me to aspire to be like. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks so much, Karen. Meeting you always makes me smile and reading your comment makes my eyes water. I hope I can make more people talk about stuttering, stutter openly and tell their minds. You are the voice of the future, Karen, and I’m so proud of you! Big hugs.

      Keep dancing, and talking!

      Anita

  21. Anita,

    Written as expected, with honesty and great insight. Thank you Anita. I believe you spoke up for many.

    Love always, A ❤

    • Thanks girlfriend. As you know, I speak from the heart. I’ve tried to change myself and lost myself. And now that I found myself, I realize there are so many people trying to change the other person. A friend of mine taught me to use the words “good enough” every time I feel I need to change, or to adjust. So blessed to have such wise friends like you and her brighten up my life.

      Keep hugging, loving and talking

      Anita

  22. Anita,

    I am a graduate student studying to be a speech-language pathologist. I really enjoyed your paper! I think as speech therapists part of our role is to help the PWS to accept themselves and accept their stuttering as a part of them that, as you said, needs no excuses. I think that it could be easy for a therapist to get caught up in this role of ensuring the client views their stuttering in a positive light. In reality, viewing a challenge in a positive light at all times is such an unrealistic expectation! Your paper is a great reminder that there will be good and bad days, and we need to meet our clients where they are validating good and bad days alike.

    Thank you for your insight!
    Ashley Griffith

    • Hi Ashley and thanks for your reflections. Try to put yourself in your clients shoes. Especially when you give assignments. Would you do them as a fluent person? Some days you have the will power and the energy to go to that gym and some days it’s the chocolate bar that’s the only thing you want. And it’s easier to reach your goal if you use mini goals and celebrate every small goal that’s reached, like it’s easier to loose 1 kg per month and keep on loosing it, than to have a goal to loose 12 kg in one month, which is so much harder and can lead to gaining weight again. So try to meet the client where s/he is that day and have different approaches at hand. Good luck!

      Keep talking

      Anita

  23. Dear Anita,

    You truly are a gutsy and honest person and should be admired. My name is Sabrina and I am an SLP graduate student learning about stuttering and must say that I never thought about the subgroups of stuttering. How there are the happy people, the sad and the cure preachers and how on any given day people who stutter can switch. But it makes sense, it is a human trait to be diverse and change opinion, in most of my courses I am told look at the individual not the disorder or customize treatment because nobody is a cookie cutter perfect example of something. Thank you for you insight! I especially like your wheelchair analogy because it rings with truth. And I promise to be accepting of my future clients good and bad days.

    Sabrina

    • Hi Sabrina and thanks for your insightful comments. Everyone who works with people need to remember we’re all human to start with. You might be tired after a tough day, get a phone call your friend got cancer, finding your bike stolen, come home to see your baby taking its first steps and your husband has a fantastic dinner prepared. All the emotions you have need a different approach, from different people, at different times. (That wonderful, long hug might not be appropriate when you’re taking the hot pan out of the oven…) And both you as a therapist and s/he as a cient might be in totally different stages of mind. So try to find out where your client as at that very moment and have a big box with approaches ready. Being an SLP is just as intriguing as rewarding!

      Keep puzzling and keep talking

      Anita

  24. Dear Anita,

    Since you already have so many responses to read I will be short in my answer…

    AMEN to that! (and I’m not even religious)

    Your friend Richard

    • Dear Richard. A respons from you is never one too many. 🙂 You are a person who knows exactly if a person needs a joke, a hug, advice or a kick in the butt. That’s what makes it so easy to be your friend and co-worker.

      Keep hugging <3

      Anita

  25. Hello Anita! Thank you for sharing your story! You mentioned the age 27 being kind of eye-opener, the age when you found peace and accepted yourself for who you are. Did you receive any interventions in your childhood? Was the issue of bullying and suicide ideas addressed? I am very upset to hear that a child with stuttering may live with such a negative feeling while so much help is available around. Thank you!

    • Hi Viktoria and thanks for your insightful questions. At the age of 27 I found the stuttering world. But it still took me many years after that to find peace and acceptance. A lot of other emotions came first, such as frustrations, anger, but also determination and happiness etc. The bitter emotions came because there weren’t any interventions. No one told me there were other pws. Stuttering was a taboo at home and not untill years later I found a note from my school to my parents to send me to an SLP. But they didn’t send me to an SLP until I was 16. I got an SLP who sexually assaulted, the next one I myself found, blamed my stutter on me. One teacher wouldn’t allow me in class, the second let me, and only me,stand in front of the class for homework check (he told me years later she did that because she didn’t like my father) and they all told me to not study any further because I wouldn’t stand a change to get my dream job anyway. And when I addressed the bullying, I was told to simply stop stuttering. But I’m greatful I can today use all of these tough moments to help other people and to make decision makers understand the impact stuttering can make on a person. I was the keynote speaker in Holland (where I was born) last year, exactly 30 years after my stuttering onset. The circle is closed. ANd that’s why I can’t say it enough:

      Keep talking!

      Anita

  26. Hi Anita,

    Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring story! I am currently a graduate student in the field of Speech-Language Pathology and I found your insights to be extremely beneficial. At this point, no one has all of the answers about stuttering. As you stated in your paper, we do not need to have all of the answers about stuttering but we do need to acknowledge where the person is at that moment and give the support they need in that moment. As SLPs I think that we are trying to do everything we can to help a PWS in terms of the speech aspects, but SLPs could be the most helpful just by letting the person feel what s/he is feeling. Acknowledgement can be one of the most important aspects of therapy in terms of building rapport and making progress. I’m so glad you shared your story! Thanks again.

    Brittney

    • Hi Brittney. You are really spot on! We all want to be seen, heard, ackowledged, as that’s how we feel people really listen to what we’re saying and we learn to trust the therapist, as trust is a major issue to be able to work together as therapist-client. I replied this to Sabrina earlier on:
      “Everyone who works with people need to remember we’re all human to start with. You might be tired after a tough day, get a phone call your friend got cancer, finding your bike stolen, come home to see your baby taking its first steps and your husband has a fantastic dinner prepared. All the emotions you have need a different approach, from different people, at different times. (That wonderful, long hug might not be appropriate when you’re taking the hot pan out of the oven…) And both you as a therapist and s/he as a cient might be in totally different stages of mind. So try to find out where your client as at that very moment and have a big box with approaches ready. Being an SLP is just as intriguing as rewarding!”

      Keep talking!

      Anita

  27. Hi Anita!

    I am a graduate student studying speech-language pathology and am currently in a fluency disorders class. Your paper was very engaging and kept me thinking. The title of your paper says it all. We live in a world that involves constantly pleasing people. You mentioned yourself trying to be what others wanted you to be. This makes me think of all the people who try so hard to be skinny, but why? It still does not change who they are on the inside. You changed your life around for yourself, not for others. What an incredibly strong woman and role model you are! Bullying has grown and has a huge impact on many. I know you understand this since you had first-hand experience. I think it’s great you organize children and youth camps to help them feel better about themselves. This is a great opportunity and may be exactly what a child needs to prevent suicide. It was very interesting to read about the three groups. It gave me a perspective on the way PWS may feel and have a better idea as to what they go through. I love how truthful you are. For example, you mentioned that you are proud of who you are regardless of your stutter, but there are also times you hate your stutter. In the end, you realize it is a part of who you are and you accept it. You don’t always want people telling you to do this or try that especially when you have tried different therapies. Everyone needs support and that’s what it all boils down to, even if it is a simple, “Wow, so happy for you!” Thank you for sharing your story, Anita.

    Nicole

    • Hi Nicole. So happy you really get what I’m trying to say and pws will get a fantastic slp! I so tried to be first loved, than liked, than simply noticed. And finally I lost myself. Today I’m back to my true self. I learned I need to love and accept myself and strengthen myself to be able to support others. We have all the answers for other people, tell them to love themselves, but somehow cannot implement that to ourselves. Children don’t do as we tell them, they do as we do. So if we’re not our true self and show we are happy with ourselves, they’ll be the first to notice that. We also need to show we all have our doubts somtimes. And to be able to help a person, we need to be where they are at that very moment. I’m proud everytime I see a young person stand up and speak up, during or after a camp. Thanks for your compassion.

      keep talking

      Anita

  28. Anita,

    I find your story so inspiring! I am currently a Speech Language Pathology graduate student and love your message about accepting others for who they are. It’s so true that our opinions and positions could change from one day to the next, so who are we to judge those different from us? I find your advice about just listening when a person who stutters needs it, rather than giving unwanted advice or input to be extremely helpful as a future clinician myself. Your story should be told to all future SLPs because I really believe it would change many viewpoints on therapy for the better!

    Thank you for sharing!

    Korri

    • Thanks for your uplifting remarks, Korri. Sometimes we want to help so much, we forget to find out what help is needed. We so much want to change people to fit in, instead of empowering people who/to stand out. I guess that’s why people want to fill in our words, give us “advice” to become more fluent, instead of just letting us talk and applaud us for being challenged every single moment, but still do what we do. I’d be most happy to come and speak for SLP students. Just let me know. 🙂

      Keep talking!

      Anita

  29. Hi Anita,

    I love your post. I don’t have a stutter, but so much of what you said resonated with me. I think most people do try to hide their flaws and work so hard to be accepted by others, when we really just need to accept ourselves. And sometimes we just need our feelings validated. We don’t want to be talked out of how we feel, we just want people to understand our feelings.
    I loved reading that you still swing between acceptance of your stutter and hating it. This post seems like it would be so helpful for young people who are working on the underlying emotions associated with stuttering – just to hear that there are other people who feel like them. I think this would help me a lot if I had a stutter.
    Your post definitely makes me think about how I will talk to clients who stutter in the future.

    Thank you,
    Laura

    • So good to read you really get my point, Laura. Somehow we want all people to be clones, to be happy and flawless. But on the other hand, do we really want to be with flawless people, when flawless people mostly make us feel uncomfortable? Why try turning people into something they’re not? Two pws with the same kind of stutter might need a totally different approach if one is introvert and the other extrovert. And maybe that’s the power of these camps (and especially the ELSA European youth meetings): they are are different, with different ages, lives and cultures, but they share that one thing, stuttering. And they all get assignments, but can fulfill them in the way they want, giving all different personalities a part that fits that very person. So I highly recommend to work with groups and even bring their families and friends in the therapy room to help them with their assignments.

      Keep talking!

      Anita

  30. Hi Anita,
    Thank you for sharing your story. You have put such real emotion into both your original essay as well as the responses to people’s comments and questions. Your embrace of unconditional positive regard is such a good reminder for me, both as a graduate student and just as a person.
    Best wishes,
    Heather

    • So happy you read the replies to others as well, Heather. Positiveness is the key to a better life, with and without stuttering, as it keeps us rising up and move forward, again and again. And sometimes we want that hand to get up, but sometimes we want a friend just to sit down with us, agree that life’s XXXX, just to make us laugh again and get up ourselves. We need all emotions, to balance ourselves, so let’s ackowledge and embrace them.

      Keep talking

      Anita

  31. I like your honesty. I am currently an SLP grad student and I hope to support my future clients in getting to that point of “I am what I am.” I also liked your advise about how to be a friend to people who stutter when they’re having a bad day by listening and not trying to “fix” them, but rather validating them with a “yea, that’s a crappy day” kind of reply. Thanks for your thoughts!

    Leslie

    • Thanks Leslie for your kind comments. I hope you have time to read my comments to other SLP students, as also there is a lot of advice on how to meet the client where s/he is and to go back to yourself to understand what’s in the clients mind. Also the stuttering organisations are a great wealth of information if you ever want to discuss any questions you might have.

      Keep talking

      Anita