Women Who Stammer

About the authors (in order of appearance):

Laher family, Didsbury, ManchesterGouri Laher: I am a mother of two young children and a holistic therapist. I started stammering at age 5 and remember my teacher laughing after I couldn’t say my name.  From that point onwards I hid my stammer- everywhere I went I carried the huge burden of this secret.

Once in university I sought NHS speech therapy. Although the burden was lifting, the stammer did not go away and I had huge trouble accepting it throughout my career as a scientist.

My own breakthrough came after using hypnotherapy and meditation, both of which allowed my self-acceptance and confidence to develop.

20140921_113451Pat Stannett: Hi my name is Pat and I’m from Bradford West Yorkshire. I’m 53 years old and I have stammered since I was 5 years old. I have 3 children and 9 grandchildren. I live with my partner Nigel. I work 40 hours a week in a warehouse. I enjoy singing at the weekend at my local pub because when I sing my stammer disappears.
ameyAmey Herrin: I’m Amey Herrin from the United States. I have a degree in Psychology, Urban Education, and am currently staying at home raising my daughter.

I spent the majority of my life shamed by, and attempting to hide, my speech. Through stuttering education, and expose to other people who stutter, I came to realize, and appreciate, the freedom of just being myself and stuttering.

I’ve spent the last 13 years as a stuttering advocate and educator. I’m continually looking for new ways to help other people who stutter, just as others have helped me.

Cchristinehristine Simpson:  I’m Christine Simpson from London UK. I have worked all my life in libraries, both on the front desk and as a manager and I try not to let my sometimes severe stammer stop me. I live with my partnerAllan in London and I now work at City Lit, an adult education college which has an excellent speech therapy department with an international reputation. I’m a feminist and my special interest is running workshops for women who stammer at national conferences and ISAD’s world congresses.

This video has been made by 4 women (in order of appearance) Gouri Laher, Pat Stannett, Amey Herrin and Christine Simpson, who are members of and regularly contribute to the Women Who Stammer (WWS) Facebook group. We talk about our experience as WWS, of using this group and the support we have had from it. It was put together by Christine Simpson with technical support from Luke Mullender.

About the group – This group is exclusively for women who stammer, started by Sheila Denny last year. If you aren’t a woman who stammers we direct you to other Facebook groups which may be suitable. The group is a closed group, so only group members can see your posts. This gives WWS a safe space to share their experiences and feelings and it has proved very popular. If you want to join you have to be on Facebook, find the group Women who Stammer and click Join Group. You then get a message on Facebook when you are accepted.

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Comments

Women Who Stammer — 40 Comments

  1. Have just watched this very inspirational video, I really love the fact the internet came along, giving us facebook in the process, for us stammerers which I am one think this has opened up so many doors helping, advising, interacting, etc I have met others via these groups which hopefully remain friends for life ” no-one quite knows a stammerer quite like another stammerer, how brave are you all bearing your souls for the benefit of others, happy to be in your community making it better for each other one step at a time.

    best Wishes Arthur Young

    • Arthur
      Thank you very much for your kind words. I hope that our video will encourage other women to take that step to join our group and the discussion.
      Thanks again
      Christine

  2. Very interesting piece ad insights ladies. I have a quick question after reading and watching. What topics to you think a mens’ only stuttering group would cover that would be distinctively different to a womens’ only group? I know there is at least one mens’ only PWS group out there on FB now. Personally I am not really interested in joining. What topical differences to you think there would be between the genders?

    • That’s an interesting one. My personal view is that women tend to be more interested in the feelings around stammering, whereas men are often more interested in fluency techniques and working on their speech. I am aware this is a massive generalisation but that’s been my experience when leading face to face self help groups. Certainly in our FB group, we share our feelings and tell each other what’s happening in our lives. I think perhaps men may be more interested in getting information from a group of what to do about specific problems. I think it would be very interesting to look at both groups and see the differences, but the nature of the groups means that may take a bit of setting up.
      Thanks very much for your question.
      Christine

      • Thanks for your views Christine. From what I gather there is often a lot of talk around the pressure of being perceived as the major “bread winner” and also personal relationships. Would be great to a parallel view of the different spreads of conversation topics between genders indeed.

        • That’s very interesting. Sounds like a good topic for a workshop or on FB.

  3. This is a wonderful idea using Facebook to communicate and support one another. I am an aspiring SLP in my first year of my master’s program. I am doing a research project about support groups right now. I find them very interesting. They seem to be a great way to gain support,perspective,and advice from others who stammer. I never thought about it that way Amey, that women who stammer are a minority in a minority and there is a need for support groups for women who stammer, specifically. I liked the presentation of different perspectives, from someone who just joined to others that have been part of the group for a while. Thanks for sharing your stories and inspiring others to join or create support groups of their own.

    Emily

  4. Dear Ladies,

    First I think it it quite remarkable that you have reached accross oceans to help each other and are helping the minority of women who stammer be heard!

    I am a SLP graduate student and am saddened to learn about the isolating effects stuttering has on people. I wanted to ask how you found each other? As well as any tips on making a woman who stammers feel more confident when in conversation.

    • Hi Sabrina
      We found each other through Facebook. There are many FB groups for PWS and Sheelagh Denny the person who started the group thought it would be nice to start a group just for women who stammer. There is also a group Women who Stutter: our stories on FB run by Pam Mertz see below. Very good group and you could join that as an SLP. About making women who stammer feel more confident in conversation, I’d say confidence is probably about helping the confidence of the whole person. Also it’s about practice, you need to keep doing it. I have a job where I have to talk to a wide range of people and I’m sure that improves my confidence.

      • Thank you so much for the response! I am going to look into that fb group the next chance I get!

  5. Hi all – I already commented about this in our group, but wanted to reiterate how great this video came out and what a great message you have conveyed. Doing a video is so much more powerful than just writing. This is a great way to reach women who stutter all over who may feel alone and isolated.
    Pam

    • Hi Pam
      Thanks so much for your kind words. I have also suggested that Sabrina join Women who Stutter: Our Stories I’m just glad the ladies agreed to it. I’d like to do it again and include other people in the group that we couldn’t include due to the tight timescale.
      Christine

  6. I am so pleased the WOMEN WHO STAMMER website is contributing to this Conference.

    As some of you know, I have done considerable research into the experience of stuttering/stammering of women. And, Christine, some of my research has corroborated what you have observed leading therapy groups. There seems to be gender differences in treatment preferences. Perhaps, you could share this observation more widely with others through publication.

    Here is a reference to a paper that summarizes some similarities and differences:

    Silverman, E.-M., and Zimmer, C., (1982). Demographic characteristics and treatment experiences of women who stutter. J. Fluency Dis., 7, 273-285.

    The paper compares and contrasts demographic features and treatment experiences of women who stutter with men who stutter and with women who do not, all matched for age and so forth.

    Again, I’m so glad to see this piece of “outreach” to women who stutter on the program here.

    • Hi Ellen-Marie
      Thank you for your comments. I remember being so glad to find your research paper and to read about other women who stammer. I’m sure many other women have found it very useful. My observations are very much my own thoughts, and certainly not scientific. There are some surveys of women’s experiences of stammering which have been done recently. I will look them up and see if they are available. If they are I will post the link here.
      Thanks again
      Christine

  7. The Women Who Stammer Facebook group is a great inspiration! The group is wonderful and supportive for women who stammer as well as an excellent encouragement for women who may feel alone. This was a fantastic and amazing idea to create this group. It is very helpful to feel empowered by the strength you receive from relating to others. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Thanks for your comment Renee. I completely agree about the feelings of being empowered. The WWS group makes me realise just how many other people are going through what we are going through and this gives us the strength to open up and speak up.

  8. Dear Ladies,

    I am a graduate student studying to become an SLP in the United States. Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed your video, and I am very impressed by the Women Who Stammer Facebook group. I think it is great that there is a recognized need for special interest groups among people who stutter. Too often it seems that people who stutter are considered one homogenous group, but one of the facts my professors have emphasized is that each person (whether he or she stutters or not) is a unique individual with different experiences, struggles, and needs. I agree with the statement made in the video that women who stutter are a minority within a minority. I appreciate the need for women to share the unique struggles they have, especially considering the different communication expectations placed on women. I also love that this group is an international group, reaching across cultures to both celebrate the differences yet share in the commonalities of women who stutter across the world. Do you feel that the online forum provides something that other support groups do not? Are there any future plans to further this group, possibly taking it beyond Facebook so that members can be advocates in the public arena as well? Finally, is there any specific advice you can give a future SLP like myself about working with women in particular and addressing their specific needs?

    Thank you ladies for your insight,
    Claire Richards

  9. Hello everyone

    Firstly thank you for viewing our entry in this years online conference . I founded Women who Stammer 8 months ago and I am extremely proud of all the ladies. Huge thanks to Christine Simpson also for her support and help for collating our entry and making this happen .

    I believe WWS is unique in the fact – it is a safe place for support , it signposts ladies without bias to therapy and support . Personal experiences are shared openly and honestly and there is no misleading or inaccurate information given out .
    WWS is run by a team of very different ladies with totally different journeys regarding their own speech and there is one common goal in WWS to empower ladies on their individual journeys . We have also have fun too and ladies are also encouraged to share their other interests too so we get to know each other as a whole person .
    Thanks again everyone
    Sheelagh Denny
    (Proud Founder of Women who Stammer WWS)

  10. I’m really proud of you , ladies .I’m totaly agree with Sheelagh Denny , this group has teach me a lot of things , it’s really perfect , and your experiences helped me and still do so .Thank you very much for accepting me as a member with you , great ladies , i’m really happy to met you .

  11. Hello Ladies,

    Thank you so much for sharing this information and for putting the word out about this online community! I am currently in graduate school studying to become an SLP, and the perspectives and insights that I’m gaining through this online conference are invaluable to me. Thank you for helping to contribute to my future practice!

    As witnessed by this online conference, technology is a great tool that can be used to connect people who stutter and to share stories and experiences. My professor, Dr. David Shapiro, gave great emphasis to how important it is for someone who stutters to not feel alone. I certainly cannot imagine what it would feel like to be the only person I knew who stuttered, which is certainly one of the reasons why online communities can be so valuable!

    Although technology can be a wonderful tool for connecting people from around the world, have you found that taking part in an online community has taken the place of the interactions that you would normally have via the telephone, in letters, or in person with other people (or women) who stutter? Or have you found that you still interact with other people who stutter just as much in these other modalities, and interacting in online communities is just another modality that has been added to your repertoire? Is the Women Who Stutter Facebook page only an online forum, or do some of the members have organized events where they meet in-person?

    Thank you very much for your time.

    Sincerely,

    Elizabeth Rose

    • Additionally, please excuse me for calling the page “Women Who Stutter.” I’m from the United States, and what I meant to say was “Women Who Stammer.”

      Thank you!
      Sincerely,

      Elizabeth Rose

    • Hi Elizabeth
      Sorry a few technical problems, so this reply went to Mallory
      We have had a meet up for a small group of us and are planning a lunch organised by one of our members at Christmas. These 2 events are organised in London our capital city, we would very much like to organise other events in different cities around the UK and not be London-centric. I think the answer about other modalities is it depends. I’m very much part of a stammering community in London but many of our members don’t have that opportunity.The telephone group we still have is not very active so maybe FB has influenced that.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.
      Christine

      • Hi Christine,

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

        Sincerely,
        Elizabeth Rose

  12. Hello all!

    Wow, what an interesting point-of-view and a great inspiration for women all over! I too am a graduate student in speech-language pathology and I love getting to hear people speak about their perspectives on stuttering.

    What advice would you give to future speech-language pathologists about stuttering and about your Facebook group? Do you feel there are certain techniques or strategies that work best specifically for women?

    Thanks for sharing your perspectives,

    Mackenzie

    • We have had a meet up for a small group of us and are planning a lunch organised by one of our members at Christmas. These 2 events are organised in London our capital city, we would very much like to organise other events in different cities around the UK and not be London-centric. I think the answer about other modalities is it depends. I’m very much part of a stammering community in London but many of our members don’t have that opportunity

  13. Ms. Laher,
    I have a question for you based on your statement that your “breakthrough came after using hypnotherapy and meditation, both of which allowed my self-acceptance and confidence to develop.” Do you think if stuttering/stammering was looked at in a more positive light that you would not need the intervention for self-acceptance and confidence? I ask this because I grew up with a girl who stammered and cluttered (fast speech) and as far as I know none of us in elementary and middle school thought anything different. She is a very confident young woman and has never even thought to correct or increase her fluency. I know that I am speaking for her, however I have known her since Kindergarten and I know her whole family very well. Thank you all to the amazing women who are affected by stammering daily, especially all of you! Thank you for sharing!
    Sincerely,
    Mallory Golden

  14. Hello,

    Discovering this group opened my mind to the idea that people might be affected by stuttering differently based on their gender. I have heard multiple times that males are more likely to stutter than females, but I never thought about how being, “a minority in the minority,” might affect women differently. As mentioned previously in the comments, women tend to focus more on the emotional aspects of stuttering. What have been some of the most challenging situations that affected you emotionally? How did you handle those situations and try to overcome them? I can see how discussing these types of questions with other women that share similar experiences can be helpful.
    Seeing as this is a closed group exclusively for women that stutter, are there other resources to view the first-hand experiences of other women who stutter? I tried looking at similar groups on Facebook but all of them are closed as well. I don’t want to intrude, but as a person who doesn’t stutter I think it would be interesting to read about more experiences to gain a better understanding of PWS.

    Thank you,

    Emily

    • Hi Emiliy
      You could try to join Women who Stutter: Our Stories which although it is a closed group may accept you as they do not stipulate that you must be a woman who stutters to join. Our group are very specific in that we only accept women who stammer which creates a very safe space and means the members share things they might not otherwise. With any group like this it is very important people feel safe to use it, hence the closed groups.Are you a speech pathologist/therapist?
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.
      Christine

  15. Hello Ladies!

    I found this video to be very inspiring! As a future SLP, I am so proud that women have united to help themselves in a world of people who do not understand stammering/stuttering! I very much agree with your comment Christine that the issues themselves are not that different but the reactions to the issues are what can be different. Amey, your comment about being a minority in a minority is so very true. I believe that PWS are underrepresented but women, even more so. I do have a general question, have you found through the WWS site that different cultures or locations have different reactions to those who stutter/stammer?

    Thank you for the inspiration,
    Allie

    • Allie
      That’s a really interesting question about different reactions to those who stammer/stutter. I think so far as women we seem to have encountered many similar reactions, but that’s a question I will ask the group. Sadly I probably won’t be able to post any replies by tomorrow. But I will try.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.
      Christine

  16. Inspiring! I loved to hear your stories. Internet and Facebook has been a blessing. It has opened the doors for more interaction between many people. Thanks for sharing your stories and letting us be a part of your life. As a graduate student in speech language pathology and a future speech language pathologist, I love to learn about stuttering and the effects it has one lives. Thanks again.

  17. Hi Ladies:

    Thank you for sharing! As one of your speakers indicated, women who stutter are a ‘minority within a minority’. That statement resonated with me. I am a graduate student studying speech-language pathology, and classroom discussion have focused on the general population of individuals who stutter. This promotion of your Facebook group “for women only” has made me aware that women will have unique social and emotional needs.

    Dawn

    • Hi Dawn
      I’m really pleased that our video and our experiences as WWS have been helpful. SLPs and therapy are very important for many people who stammer and I do think as PWS we should spend more time than we do working with SLPS to improve our experiences of therapy.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.
      Christine

  18. Hi Ladies,
    What a wonderful group! I enjoyed hearing about your experiences in being part of WWS and how it has provided each of you with a supportive and friendly environment. I find it very troubling that many people who stammer may not have (or know of) a community of other people who stammer to turn to, possibly having never even met another individual who stammers. There were many comments in the video that conveyed this such as “I felt quite lonely and isolated”. WWS sounds like an incredibly positive place for all of you. As a future SLP, I will definitely recommend this resource to any women clients who stammer. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    -Emily

    • Hi Emily
      Thank you for your recommendations. As someone who didn’t meet anyone else with a stammer until I was 18, I do think it is so important that there are groups like this.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.
      Christine

  19. Hi Gouri, Pat, Amey and Christine,

    OK – you’ve convinced me that WWS is the place to be. The only drawback is that I’m a man – not a woman. 🙂 You have painted such a rosy picture that I’m tempted to seek a gender change so that I may become eligible for membership. 🙂 On second thoughts, I think my wife may have something to say about that. 🙂 No, seriously, it’s great that you ladies have access to such a supportive international forum. May it continue to go from strength to strength.

    Yours enviously,

    Alan

    PS Christine – I’m still recovering from that energetic jive that we indulged in at the 2004 World Congress in Western Australia. 🙂 I experienced aches and pains in parts of my body that I didn’t even know existed. 🙂

    • Hi Alan
      Thanks for your comments. It is a good support group, however as discussed earlier on this page, I think there is room for a male only Facebook group.
      I can’t believe it is 10 years since we were in Australia. It was a great trip.
      Christine