The Wonderful World of Stuttering

lagardeAbout the author:  My name is Laurent Lagarde, I’m french, 47 years old and, thanks to my stuttering, I’m now a blog writer (www.goodbye-begaiement.fr), a translator and even a book’s editor. I translated the books Advice to Those Who Stutter and  Sometimes I Just Stutter into French. I also wrote for the Stuttering Foundation “25 things I wish I had known when I was 20 years old”. http://www.stutteringhelp.org/content/25-things-i-wish-i-had-known-about-stuttering-when-i-was-20

I am member of the board of the French “Association Parole Bégaiement” where I am in charge of press relations. In this paper, I share my discovery of the wonderful world of stuttering.

I would like to dedicate this paper to Alan Badmington, whose testimonies in previous ISA online conference really changed my life and opened my way toward recovery.

If you stutter and are looking for answers, you have many reasons to be optimistic.

In recent years, the available information on stuttering has experienced a real upheaval. It has grown from a handful of books by specialists to thousands of texts or exchanges available within a few clicks.

This expansion of information has triggered a major shift in the approach to the topic and the establishment of a real dynamic progression.

A few years ago, when I started to browse the french Web, I expected a lot from the Internet growth. Very high were my expectations. Very deep was my disappointment.
I found only stutterer’s testimonies on their suffering along a difficult path, two or three methods of former stutterers’ available in exchange for a big check, and heated and sterile debates between supporters of a particular therapy.

Lost among commercial proposals and depressing testimonies; my disappointment and frustration were enormous. It seemed that nothing had changed since my childhood and adolescence, except that in addition, to paraphrase Shakespeare, “something was rotten in the state of stuttering”.

Then I discovered Canadian and U.S. sites which offered interesting texts for people who stutter (PWS) and published testimonies of personal paths towards recovery. I read Jack Menear’s, Alan Badmington’s, John Harrison’s and Walt Manning’s stuttering stories and I said to myself : “Hey, that’s me!” Then I read their paths toward recovery and I said : “Hey, that could be me!”

Through them, I discovered that there were also former stutterers or therapists, who work together to raise awareness of what stuttering is and share experiences or new scientific discoveries related to this complex subject.

Yes, there were people who volunteered their services to help people who stutter and who shared their information without a thought of financial reward!

Yes, things were moving in the world of stuttering and some people even used the word  “hope!”

Yes, it was possible to have peaceful and constructive exchanges on the subject!

I was energized and it gave me the desire and energy to create my own blog to join in this positive movement and relay this dynamic change. I chose the name “Goodbye Begaiement” (Goodbye Stuttering) and I wrote my first posts about what I learned and experienced.

At first I was a little afraid, I confess, of the reaction of the French Internet world of stuttering. I had nothing else to offer other than my goodwill, my maybe interesting but not universal story and the fruit of my searches. My surprise was immense.

First, the two major french weblogers in this field, Olivier and Alexandre, reacted immediately by relaying my first articles on their blog. I foolishly feared they would see me as a “competitor” and have a little fear of this new actor. Rather it was a friendly and enthusiastic response that greeted me and to them I owe the beginning of my blog traffic, and to Daniel Poussin (the webmaster of Association Parole Bégaiement) who quickly put a link on the association’s website.

Then, I almost couldn’t believe it when I saw leading French experts such as Francois Le Huche and Marie-Claude Monfrais-Pfauwadel leave comments on my posts, bringing to my writings their enlightening experience and scientific rigor.

Encouraged by these initial reactions, I turned to America and I contacted the “Stuttering Foundation of America” (SFA), without much hope of drawing their interest. I felt a bit like an amateur diver offering to work with Jacques Cousteau’s team  in their next expedition… And again, surprise! Jane Fraser (the president) replied in person with kindness and in French (she used to live in France)! She thanked me (unbelievable!) for my translations and encouraged me to continue. You can not imagine the energy this answer gave me! Since, with Jane’s agreement, I translated in french Eelco de Geus’ book “Sometimes I stutter”  (Des fois, je bégaie) and I made a paper edition of the book. That lead me to discover the world of printing and edition. What a exciting undertaking!

The miracle continues. When I contacted Richard Parent, the translator of John Harrison’s book “Redefining Stuttering”, the response was again immediate. He sent me his latest translations in PDF format and said he would put me in his mailing list. I think I can say we became friends and he’s always a great support for me. He was my partner to translate in French my second book “Conseils pour ceux qui bégaient” (Advice for those wo stutter).

I was then contacted by the French stuttering association “Association Parole Bégaiment” to share my testimony during meetings and conferences and I am now in charge of press relations for this association. Now I speak before a large audience, in front of a microphone for the radio or by phone with journalists: so many things I thought impossible just few years ago!

Yes, there are PWS and non-PWS, professionals and amateurs, who study stuttering, and who unreservedly share their knowledge with open arms and welcome all people with goodwill.

This state of mind, constructive and collaborative, reminds me of astronomy. You have on one side astrophysicists and distinguished professionals and on the other devotees and amateurs, whose contribution is also significant because thousands of eyes scanning the sky with passion can discover new phenomena or stars. The official scientists did not look at them with condescension but saw them as helpful partners who contribute to a better understanding of the universe.

The universe of stuttering is perhaps not infinite but it is complex. That is why this positive trend that I mentioned is so reassuring. This openness, generosity, and acceptance of SLPs to share and work with the amateurs is the best things that can happen to us.

That is also why it is so important that readers leave comments on posts to add their testimony. Some forums and weblogs in the world became references, a wealth of information consulted by specialists and students in speech therapy. Thanks to them, these students probably know ten times more about stuttering and life of a PWS than students some years ago.

The web has become a huge knowledge base of stuttering, a kitchen where people with a cooking hobby and “grands chefs” come together, tasting each dish, making suggestions and thus perfecting recipes. And you have the right not to try everything, you have the right to not like certain dishes. Feel free to compose your menu card by choosing what seems good for you!

So, snoop, browse, be curious, I am sure you will fall inevitably on testimonies and advice that will help you move forward. If you want to get started and make a contribution, please do so! You can not imagine how rewarding it is and how good it feels to be involved in such a beautiful adventure. There is still much to learn but there are also many more unexplored places for the Galileos, Marco Polos and Neil Armstrongs of stuttering!

So spread the word!

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Comments

The Wonderful World of Stuttering — 28 Comments

  1. My oh my, Laurent, you have come a LONG way since we first communicated on line. Your enthusiasm is very infectious, and I get that you have made some amazing transformations in your life. Thank you SO MUCH for being such a great role model, and for opening doors for many other PWS. Best regards, John H.

    • Dear john, thank you so much for your comment. You have been one of the few who gave me hope when my sky was dark. Your book and the stories you related were wonderful resources for me. Thanks to you and Alan, I understood that my stuttering was not only a speech problem and that I had to make a major shift in my way of thinking and being. Yes, it has been a long but exciting way !

  2. Congratulations Laurent and thanks for the good words, partner. Your friend, Richard.

    • Thanks partner. I hope to read your paper next hear, your voice has to be heard !

    • Thank you very much, Mery.
      Do you agree that the stuttering world can be wonderful ? What is your experience ?

  3. Jeez, Laurent, this is a great article. I was looking at stuttering in the rear view mirror when I encountered some of the “greats” that you mention (Harrison, Badmington, Parent). And I also found these confirming voices comforting and strengthening. Keep on writing this stuff….your blogs are terrific. Thank you for this article!!

    • Many thanks for your nice words, Ruth. You are without contest a fabulous character of this wonderful world of stuttering. I think Alice would surely encounter you if Lewis came back to write a new version of her adventures in wonderland. Your sweet crazy fantasy and your skills of storytelling are unique and I am always delighted to read you.
      Your book “Speech is a river” is a must read and you opened a new way toward fluency. Keep on, Ruth !

  4. Nice article Laurent and congratulations on all of your good work and on finding your path toward recovery. If others are interested in the articles to some of the wonderful people you mention, they are on the Stuttering Home Page (http://www.stutteringhomepage.com.

    The direct links to some you mention are: Jack Menear (http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/Infostuttering/steringdies.html) John Harrison (http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/Infostuttering/Harrison/john.htm) Walt Manning (http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/casestudy/path/manning.html) and MANY contributions by Alan Badmington are found on most of the past ISAD online conferences – check any of them from the Conference Archive at http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/isadarchive/onlineconference.html

    There are stories from several others (including Ruth Mead the previous commenter) at http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/casestudy/case.html#cases and also on Voices: Past and Present at http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/voices/voices.html

  5. Laurent, thank you for sharing your positive and exciting experience. I am a first year graduate student studying to become a speech-language pathologist in the U.S. I’m also a lover of languages. I’m wondering if, when you initially started looking for resources to help you with stuttering, the fact that you were searching in French was the biggest barrier or whether the resources just didn’t exist at that time. Also, do think that people who stutter in languages that are not as commonly spoken have the resources they need to help them?

    • Kistratman, thank you for your message.
      I started my searching in 2000 and I began to look for French resources but there was quite none.
      So I explored the American and Canadian stuttering world and, when I look back, this was finally a great opportunity for me because, thanks to these readings, I Improved my english skills. Another secondary benefit of my stuttering 🙂
      Yes, you are right : people who don’t read English are probably lacking of resources. But there is a great work made by the Stuttering Foundation of America to have and promote the translations of its best-selling books. You can find the page here.
      http://www.stutteringhelp.org/translations

      And, as this conference is international, I warmly invite persons who stutter from the five continents to make translations and publish books and papers in their native language. Because I am fully convinced that information is the first step toward therapy and personal growth.

      Laurent

  6. Hi Laurent,
    What a wonderfully positive and inspirational paper. Congratulations on your foray into blogging. I was inspired to start blogging myself in 2009 and have been going strong since then. Many times, I exclaim to myself, “I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for 6 years. I can’t believe I still have things to say about stuttering after 6 years.”

    Stuttering is a big and exciting world. I also know that from the podcast I do, called “Women Who Stutter: Our Stories.” I’ve been podcasting since 2010 and have talked to women (over Skype) in more than 30 countries.

    You can check out my blog, if you wish, at http://www.stutterrockstar.com

    Again, thanks for such an encouraging paper. -Pam

  7. Hi Laurent,

    47 years old??? I don’t believe it – you don’t look a day over 35. 🙂

    I was truly moved by your decision to devote your paper to me. It was an extremely generous gesture. I’m delighted that you feel the experiences I shared in past ISAD Online Conference papers have had such a positive impact upon the manner in which you now approach your life.

    The Internet has revolutionised the lives of many PWS by facilitating the dissemination of a wide array of information about stuttering, as well as affording opportunities to communicate with other PWS around the world.

    Reading about the lives of other PWS can provide an interesting insight into how they deal (or have dealt) with their respective difficulties, as well as offering reciprocal inspiration. It can also alert us to possibilities of which we were previously unaware – in relation to therapies, techniques and opportunities that allow us to unearth our true potential when we are prepared to expose ourselves to uncertainty and change. In effect, it can open our eyes to possibilities that we could never have imagined.

    As a result, many of us now possess a far greater understanding of the issues that shape our lives. We are also better informed about how we (and others) react to the diverse challenges that confront us – and have discovered that there are exciting and fulfilling paths available for us to tread (should we so wish). But, perhaps, most importantly, we know that we need never again experience the isolation of walking those paths alone.

    Laurent, I am aware that some people regard their stutter as a gift. Whilst I wholly respect the sentiments they express, I have never viewed my own stuttering in that light. It has created far too much heartache and disappointment for me to ever consider it in such a vein. However, I readily acknowledge that the difficulties I encountered throughout my life have certainly equipped me with skills and attributes that I might, otherwise, not have acquired.

    In addition, we have both found that our stuttering has opened so many new doors – as public speakers and via the written word. I applaud the wonderful (and varied) work that you are undertaking (and have undertaken) to improve the lives of many persons who stutter. Long may it continue!

    Laurent, I wish you continued success with the exciting challenges that you are choosing to create in your life.

    Kindest regards

    Alan Badmington

    • Many thanks Alan for your message. You are a pioneer and a wondeful ambassador of PWS. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Hi Laurent,

    I was very encouraged and excited after reading your article! I am a second year graduate student in speech language pathology in the US and I cannot begin to tell you how much the amount of information shared by PWS and professionals online has helped me in my studies! Your cause and the cause of so many to go out and share the information they have whether it be educational or personal or both about stuttering has allowed for so much more knowledge to be available and spread for those who stutter and those who wish to help those who stutter. Continue the great work you do!

    -Yamid

    • Thank you very much Yamid. Persons who stutter need persons like you too ! You chose a wonderful studying field. I’m sure you are going to make an exciting trip into the stuttering world. I wish you the best !

  9. Hi Laurent,
    Thank you for sharing your post and your encouraging words about the stuttering community! I am currently studying speech pathology and prior to entering this field, I did not know anyone who had a stutter and really anything about stuttering. Reading these blogs, I have been learning so much about stuttering more than I could ever read out of a text book! I was wondering what you believe is the biggest misconception that people who don’t stutter believe to be true about PWS?
    Thank you,
    Molly

    • Hi Molly,
      Thank you very much for your message. I think the biggest misconception for people who don’t stutter is to believe that this is not a so big problem to stutter.
      But I think too that the biggest misconception of persons who stutter is to believe that our stuttering is a big problem for others ! The reality is probably between these two misconceptions 🙂
      Laurent

  10. Hi Laurent,
    Thank you for your encouraging words. As a student of speech-language pathology I do feel like I am gaining great insight by reading the papers, experiences and emotions of PWS. I am so glad you are welcoming and inviting into your world those who just want to learn and understand! Thank you!
    Lynnette

    • Hu Lynnette,

      Thank you very much. I am so glad that people like you choose to study stuttering ! We need you ! I wish you the best for your studies.
      Laurent

  11. Laurent, I really appreciate your cooking analogy! (It seems that I often wind up using food metaphors/analogies, so it made me smile!)
    I remember reading Menear, and John Harrison in xeroxed newsletter versions in the early 90’s, and it expanded my worldview to consider other possibilities… For myself, “recovery” connects with freedom—freedom from fear, freedom to say what I want to say. There are so many views, so many perspectives on the prisms of stuttering, and so many dishes and seasonings. I have never cared for cauliflower, although broccoli and I are now good friends. I think it’s important that there is room for all to sit at the table…

    • Hi Heather,
      Thank you very much. What is “recovery” should be a topic of a next ISAD paper but I agree with your definition. For myself, “recovery” is not perfect fluency but being able to say what I want to say, with the words I want to say. “Recovery” is being able to open my mouth when I want to !
      I didn’t know the word “cauliflower” in english. So I’m going to teach you the french word : “chou-fleur”. And no problem for broccoli, it’s the same italian word in french !
      Laurent

  12. Hi Laurent
    As a first year student studying Speech and Language Therapy in the UK, I found reading your post really encouraging to leave a comment, in a similar way as you weren’t sure how your input would be received by professionals in the field, it is great that as a student, our input is also valuable. We are so fortunate to be able to learn from your direct experiences which isn’t represented in the same way in textbooks and I am now going to have a look around your blog post to hopefully learn some more!
    Thank you
    Chrissie

    • Hi Chrissie,
      Thank you very much for your message. I just learnt yesterday that my posts are studied in a swiss University and I’m very proud of it. We will all benefit to work together and I warmly thank to have choosen to study Speech and Language.
      I’m very happy that you are going to have a look around my blog.
      I wish you the best for your future career.
      Laurent

  13. Hi Laurent, I am studying speech and language therapy, and found your story extremely inspiring; thankyou for sharing your messages across the countries. Lilias

    • Hi Lilias,

      Thank you very much for your message. I am very glad you chose to study Speech and Language Therapy? This is a really good choice and you are going to discover the wonderful world of stuttering !
      I wish you the best for your future career.
      Laurent