|About 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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