My Story With Stuttering

Yousra OuchenAbout the author:  Yousra Ouchen from Casablanca, Morocco.

Actual work:

  • Financial consultant in an accounting firm
  • Co- partner and Co- manager in a consulting firm
  • Freelance web writer

Degrees:

  • Master degree in auditing and management control

Associative:

  • President of the Moroccan Association of Stuttering ( Association Marocaine du Bégaiement –AMB)

Hobbies:

  • Guitar
  • Writing
  • Drawing
  • Reading

Who Am I ?

I am Yousra Ouchen from Morocco. I am 26 years old, I work as a financial consultant and I stutter.

I’ve decided to participate in the event because I really want to tell people that stuttering is not always the problem that you might believe it is.

My story with stuttering

I can’t remember when I started stuttering, why I did it or even how. What I do remember is that, until the age of 17, I was stuttering but I was doing it openly, without having any psychological barriers, and without thinking about it all day.

However, once I started thinking about it and trying to figure out why I stutter, problems showed up in my life and then I started stuttering differently.

The fact is that we do stutter, but how we think about it is the real problem. Whether we stutter or not, we keep on breathing and carry on living our lives. However, when we stutter and think about it in a negative way, even though we continue breathing and living our lives, we may avoid doing what we want to do. We judge ourselves before others do; we make the wrong decisions and blame ourselves for that before others do, we stop doing what we want to do before others stop us. So we kind of tell others how to react towards stuttering.

Recently I understood that I have to accept my stutter, and if I do, then I will maybe find out how to deal with it.

I still sometimes have problems with acceptance, but I know that it’s not a big problem, because now I can stutter openly again, most of the time. I still avoid several situations but I also become happy when I do what I was avoiding before. So yes, maybe my progress is slow, but the important thing is that I am moving forward. I know that if I keep working on changing the ideas that I put in my head, then I could change how other people who don’t stutter think about stuttering.

The Moroccan Association of Stuttering (AMB, Association Marocaine du Bégaiement)

I recently joined a group of other people who stutter (PWS), to create the Moroccan Association of Stuttering, to keep in touch and be there for other PWS, to work with each other to accept that we stutter, change what we have always thought about stuttering and keep on living how we want to, without psychological barriers. We also want to help young PWS and remind ourselves that the important thing is to keep moving forward, even if it takes a lot of time and even if we stutter. The important thing is that we do what we want to do and not what we think we have to do, because we stutter. The other important objective is to explain stuttering to the public, and change all the incorrect ideas and perceptions about stuttering. We need to show the world that we can talk and we can handle it, even if we talk differently. The main goals of our association can be put in three words: unite, accept, change.

We focus now on building up confidence in PWS in Morocco, so they can speak freely about their stutter, without shame and without thinking about the reactions of others. We try to help each other with acceptance and at the same time we try to support each other through the program that we set up.

Our first program includes several exercises and speech therapy techniques that we have adapted to our needs. It includes breathing exercises, reading at different speech rates and improvisation.

We are still working on a public awareness component, where we will begin by defining stuttering in general and targeting parents and teachers by giving them tips and tricks to use with a child who stutters (CWS).

We’ve also made one short study which helped us to have an overall idea about how stuttering is understood in Morocco and how Moroccans think about PWS.

The International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD)

Since the creation of the association is recent, we are still working on ideas for the ISAD. But for now, we’ve decided to set up meetings between PWS during the week and also meetings with speech and language therapists (SLT).

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Comments

My Story With Stuttering — 30 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I find it fascinating that you had no psychological barriers about your stuttering until the age of 17. The teenage years can be very difficult, especially in regards to self-esteem. Any little thing that sets you apart from others could negatively affect you. “Ignorance is bliss,” as they say, and you did not perceive stuttering as a problem back then! Could you explain how your stuttering was different before 17 and after 17? The fact that your stuttering changed after you started thinking about why it was happening only proves that you had no problems with it before because you weren’t aware of (or told by others) that you were different from the norm!

    I loved that you chose to attack the issue from the mental health perspective. “We judge ourselves before others do” really hit me (I think this is an overarching comment that applies to us all as humans in general, but I digress). “We tell others how to react towards stuttering” — I believe that this quote, in particular, is very important for PWS! Don’t be nervous, don’t be embarrassed, be yourself! Oftentimes, being self-conscious only exacerbates the problem. Although the dysfluency might be out of your control, it is important to not let others let you down.

    I am very impressed that created the Moroccan Association of Stuttering. With your wonderful, positive outlook and mentality about acceptance and progress, you are helping so many others who are just like you find solace in a caring, like-minded community. As a multi-cultural individual with an educational background in Psychology, I am always wondering about different cultures’ mentalities, so I am curious about the outcome of your study of how Moroccans feel about PWS. I would love to hear more details about it!

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Yousra!

    • Hello Nicole. Thank you for taking time to read my paper, and for your encouraging words. I totally agree about what you said about the fact that I wasn’t aware that I was different before 17. And all that I can remember from those years before developing psychological barriers, is that I was telling myself that it’s not so bad and it will disappear one day.
      And to give you more details about the study, if they already know about the questions was about if they know about stuttering, and how they define it , and how do they react and feel when they meet or talk with PWS … the results was that most of the people who answered to the questions said that for them stuttering is due to an emotional shock or to a low self esteem, and that they feel sad or had pity when they hear PWS talk and that they help them to finish their sentences most of time.

      Thank you again for your comment.

  2. Thank you, Yousra, for your wonderful paper. You express yourself so well, and I am sure that your paper will be of great benefit to other PWS. Congratulations on your work at increasing awareness of stuttering in Morocco, and helping other PWS.

    Hanan

  3. So glad to hear about your work. Terrific that you created the Association of Stuttering (Moroccan). So happy to read your story. Thanks for the great article.

  4. Yousra, so glad to hear about your work… thank you for sharing your story! I was curious about what the public stigma about stuttering currently looks like in Morocco? I am from the U.S. (I’m a Speech Language Pathology graduate student), and I know that children here typically notice their stuttering and are negatively affected by their stutter much earlier than 17. I was wondering if you could comment on some differences in cultures and how they relate to stuttering?

    Thank you! Keep up the great work.

  5. Yousra Ouchen,
    Thank you for this post on your experience with stuttering. I am a current graduate student in communication sciences and disorders and you have provided me with additional insight into potential barriers of stuttering. I find your contributions to the Moroccan Association of Stuttering extremely important. It sounds like you have provided young people who stutter an opportunity to find acceptance and confidence within themselves. I wish you luck in your continued efforts to unite, accept, and change perceptions about people who stutter.

  6. Yousra,
    Thank you for sharing your personal experience with stuttering. I find it very interesting that once you started to take notice in your stutter that you started to stutter differently. I believe that by you recognizing that negative thoughts impact how you will carry on with your daily communication is something very important that you will be able to share with your Moroccan Association of Stuttering group. The concept of “unite, accept, change” is also very noteworthy because I believe that if you create positivity and a strong community of individuals that want to progress a solid motto is where to begin.
    I wish you luck in your endeavors to educate the public on stuttering.
    -Becca

    • Hello Becca

      Thank you for your comment and I wish too that our association can really make difference and find out new discoveries about the mystery of stuttering .

  7. Yousra your story is truly amazing. I found it very interesting that you stuttered openly until the age 17 without having any psychological barriers, but when you started to think about it and trying to figure out why you stutter that is when the problems arouse and you started stuttering differently.

    As a person who does not stutter, but is currently in school to become a speech-language pathologist your story was very eye opening about how PWS can think about their stutter in such a negative way, by judging themselves before others do and stopping things you want to do before others stop you.

    It is truly amazing that you now can openly stutter again most of the time. Slow progress is still progress, and you are exactly right by saying “the important thing is that I am moving forward.” I wish that everyone who stutters was able to feel that they could openly stutter, because you are correct by openly stuttering you could change how other people who do not stutter think about stuttering.

    I find it very impressive that you and a group of other people created the Moroccan Association of Stuttering. With your desire and drive about acceptance and progress, I predict that you are going to have a lasting impact on many individuals lives. I really like how you broke the main goals of your association down into unite, accept, and change. Those three words represent your description of your association very well and relate to your objectives.

    I would be very interested to find out the results of your study as I feel like every culture understands stuttering differently and has different views about stuttering. Yousra, you are an amazing woman with a huge heart to help others and have a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. Hi Yousra – thank you so much for sharing your perspective and for the work you are doing in Morocco. I am the parent of a 19-year old who stutters and I was moved by your comment “The fact is that we do stutter, but how we think about it is the real problem.” I am a parent advocate to affect parents’ ways of thinking and to focus on keeping kids talking rather than focusing on not stuttering. (My ISAD submission: Still More Questions Than Answers) I’m curious, what are you referring to when you mention “tips” and “tricks” when it comes to children? I really like your message!

  9. Hi Yousra, I really enjoyed reading your story! Was there a defining moment/event when you were 17 that made you start thinking about your stuttering differently? Just curious what triggered your thoughts changing about your stutter at that time. Also, what were the first steps you took to change the ideas that you put in your head concerning your stuttering?

  10. Hello Yousra,
    Thank you for posting your paper and sharing the amazing work that you are doing in Morocco. I am a student currently studying to become a Speech and Language Therapist and I think the work you and the Moroccan Association of Stuttering are doing is inspirational. I wish you all the luck and success for raising awareness and support for PWS.
    Megan

  11. Hi Yousra

    Your story is a great example of spreading awareness on stuttering. I commend you for your confidence in sharing your personal story. Is there anything new you’ve done today in The Moroccan Association of Stuttering group?

    Jessica

  12. Hello Yousra,

    I found your story incredibly interesting and also thought provoking, especially for me as a first year student studying to be a Speech and Language Therapist. Your highlighting of psychological barriers, I think, is extremely important as not many people understand the challenges people who do have stutters face. I believe more work should be done to raise awareness like you’re doing and I hope you make the progress you deserve. Thank you for sharing your story!

    Abigail

  13. Hi Yousra,
    Great paper, great story and congratulations for all the work you’re doing to move the Morroccan Association forward.
    Like others have said, I am struck by how you weren’t really bothered by stuttering until age 17. Do you remember if there was a specific instance or trigger that caused you to start thinking more about why you stutter? I think you’re a great role model for women who stutter. – Pam

  14. Hi Yousra,
    It sounds like you are a great spokesperson for The Moroccan Association of Stuttering. Your confidence can do alot to help others who may not have confidence or may have felt others’ negative views of their stutter. It sounds like you are making a difference in their lives by organizing, practicing techniques, and while also educating the community. I like how you said it was important to “unite, accept, and change.”

  15. This was a great story to read. You did a wonderful work to increase the awareness of stuttering in your country. I also, was a little surprised that until the age of 17, you did not have any problems with the stuttering in terms of thinking about it or being psychologically influenced by it. So, it means it was your personal attitude to it rather than the reaction you got from outside that made you think about it.
    My question is, would you prefer to be diagnosed earlier and received therapy and support earlier or it is easier to deal with the condition when you are not singled out and accepted the way you are without any therapy or professional involvement?
    I do recognize the importance of intervention and the power of support. Sometimes I wonder, though, if we are not too hasty to provide therapy, instead of educating more and creating better environment for those that tend to perform outside the established norms.

  16. Yousra,
    Your view on they way we stutter as being the real problem is very interesting. You judge yourself before others do, and stop yourself from doing what you really want to do, so basically, those who stutter are telling other’s (who don’t stutter) how to react or how to think about stuttering. Can healing and “overcoming” your stutter happen, without acceptance first? I agree with you that progress is progress, regardless of how fast or slow it is. I love your idea of the main goals of the organization of “unite, accept and change.” That should be used and understood globally. I wish the focus could more on acceptance and building up confidence to everyone who stutters, everywhere. Thank you for sharing your story!
    Candice

  17. Hi Yousra,

    This paper is a great example of how important it is to spread the awareness of stuttering. I liked your ideas of giving tips to parents and teachers who work with children who stutter, because this could really help with creating more positive attitudes of important figures the child interacts with every day. I found it interesting in your paper that you were not aware of your stuttering until the age of 17 and that is when your stuttering began to be more of a problem. What was the reason for this sudden recognition of your stuttering? Thank you for sharing your story!

    -Julz

  18. Yousra,

    I found it interesting that you didn’t think too much of your stuttering until the age of 17. It wasn’t until you stopped to think about your stuttering and why you did it that you developed negative feelings towards your stuttering. I also thought it was interesting that you mentioned you were your own worst enemy. You judged yourself before others did and you placed a lot of blame on yourself.

    I really liked when you said, “The important thing is that we do what we want to do and not what we think we have to do”. I feel this is something that is true for everyone and is a good rule of thumb to live by.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Morgan

  19. Yousra,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am currently studying to become a Speech-Language Pathologist. Your work in Morroco is something to be proud of. I find it interesting that you did not have any negative feelings about your stutter until you were 17. Nowadays, most middle and high school kids have to deal with others making fun of their stutter and it can really affect their self-esteem. Was there any direct event that made you think more about your stutter and develop negative feelings in response? Thank you for sharing your story as it will be very helpful to others. Bringing recognition to stuttering is so important.

    Marah

  20. Hi Yousra,
    Thank you for sharing your story as a way to help others realize that stuttering does not have to be what defines them. I think your work creating the Moroccan Association of Stuttering is a wonderful way to make an impact on the lives of young people who stutter. Allowing people the opportunity to feel as though they are not alone and helping to build their confidence and acceptance of themselves, especially those of a young age, is so important. Advocacy is so important and I commend you on your efforts and wish you the best with your continued efforts.
    Kelly

  21. Yousra,
    I am a student Speech and Language student and reading your paper has been really inspiring and interesting. It is great to hear first hand about your experiences and the work you are involved in; I admire it and believe you will help to make a difference in peoples perceptions and help to change the incorrect ideas that are within society.
    Thankyou for your personal insight on this topic.

  22. Hello Yousra,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I think it is so wonderful that you have shared it. Was there a specific event that made you think negatively about your stutter?

    I think you are a great role model for anyone!
    Stefanie

  23. Hi Yousra,

    It is great to read your story and hear your experiences and how you have used them to do something positive. It highlights the importance of spreading awareness of stuttering and the positive impact this can have on peoples lives. Thank you

  24. Yousra,

    It’s great that you took initiative to start the Moroccan Association of Stuttering. I was wondering, do you know what it was that made you start thinking about your stutter when you were 17? Was there a certain event that happened or was it just that you became more aware as you were growing up?