The Hidden Strengths of People Who Stammer (Paul Brocklehurst)

paulAbout the author Paul Brocklehurst. After completing his degree in Speech Therapy at De Montfort University, Leicester (England), Paul then went on to specialize in psycholinguistics and spent four years researching potential mechanisms behind stuttering at the University of Edinburgh, where he completed his MSc. and PhD. In recent years Paul has taught final year speech therapy students, published academic papers on stuttering, given presentations at major clinical conferences internationally, and run workshops and adult education courses for people who stutter. Paul is himself a stutterer, and has been an active member of the self-help movement for many years. He currently works as director of the Stammering Self-Empowerment Programme C.I.C. which maintains a free online course for people who stutter. In addition to his work with stuttering, Paul is a keen practitioner of mindfulness/ meditation. Originally trained in Zen, over the years he has helped set up and run a number of (non-aligned) meditation groups.

The hidden strengths of people who stammer

Throughout my childhood and adolescence, if someone had asked me what impact stammering had had on me and the people around me, my response would have been entirely negative. I would have focussed on how much it interfered with my ability to communicate and to interact socially, how it was preventing me from fulfilling my potential, and also on how difficult and worrying it must have been for my parents and family.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve found myself increasingly able to contemplate the possibility that at least some of my earlier experiences of stammering may actually have been beneficial, both to me and also to the people around me.

Anyway, in 2014, motivated by my own experiences, I decided to conduct a small survey asking other people who stammer to describe any positive impacts that stammering has had on their lives and on the lives of others. My hope was that the survey might shed some light on a question that has been at the back of my mind for some time, which is… Is stammering associated with any positive attributes? And, do people who stammer have any special qualities or strengths?

This slideshow summarises the results.

Note that the presentation contains an essential audio components on each slide which will only play if the presentation is downloaded, or by accessing the complete presentation, which contains additional background information, at this link.

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Comments

The Hidden Strengths of People Who Stammer (Paul Brocklehurst) — 36 Comments

  1. I really like the idea of approaching stuttering in a way that looks at strengths rather than perceived deficits. I think it would be a great motivational interviewing tool to ask a client who stutters what they perceive as their strengths and how stuttering may play a role in that strength. I’m wondering if anyone has used this approach and if it’s been effective.

    • Hi Tali,
      Thanks for your comments and suggestion. Some of the well-established forms of cognitive therapy – like for example, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can (and do) provide a structure through which therapists can help individual clients to explore positive attributes associated with their stuttering. So this does already happen to some extent, and there is indeed empirical evidence that CBT does bring significant tangible benefits to people who stutter (PWS) in terms of helping them feel more OK about themselves and their stuttering, and strengthening their sense of self-esteem. So this approach is not new. Nevertheless, I think it has the potential to be further developed. In particular, I think that if we had a clearer theoretical understanding of the precise reasons why PWS are likely to be particularly gifted in certain areas and why they are likely to have some special strengths and abilities, I think this knowledge could do a lot to further help PWS to see themselves and their condition in a truly positive light, and to overcome any feelings they may have that the condition is something they need to hide.
      In the self-help movement, currently there is already quite a lot of discussion about the need (both for stutterers and for the general public) to perceive stuttering in a positive light, and there are already many individual stories from PWS about their strengths (including a number of stories in this ISAD online conference). What I think is needed now is for someone to gather these stories together in a structured and coherent way, so that recurring themes can be identified and then ultimately also tested using empirical research methods, in order to establish, in an objective experimental way, the extent to which PWS as a group really do excel in certain areas of life. As I mentioned in my talk, my own empirical research suggests that we are likely (as a group) to excel at certain types of creativity. But I’m sure there are other areas in which we excel as well.

  2. Great article, I think it is important to look at the strengths of people who stutter rather than just the deficits as many studies do. What kind of methods do you think should be used to measure the relationships between stuttering, empathy, sensitivity and creativity? Do you think qualitative measures or quantitative measures would be more important?

    • Hi Katherine, That’s a good question! The questionnaire I designed collected subjective qualitative data. That’s a most basic starting point which has enabled us to identify a few strengths that people who stutter believe they have. The next step would be to review previous published research (from different populations) in which these strengths have been observed and measured objectively, and see how it has been done. Some of the strengths have been better researched than others. So, for example, there are a wide selection of tests of empathy (both emotional empathy and cognitive empathy) many of which have been designed by psychologists studying autism. There are also many tests of creativity – largely designed by educational psychologists. I think both quantitative and qualitative measures are important. Quantitative measures are easy to report and are usful inasmuch as they can provide a simple, easy to interpret, indication of precisely how much more sensitive, empathic, or creative a person is compared to the average. However, quantitative tests tend to narrow in their focus, and so they can easily miss things… especially if they were originally designed for other client groups. Qualitative studies have much more flexibility and are likely to detect a much wider range of strengths, so they can give a fuller and more nuanced picture… if they are well done. However, they tend to involve much more work (and are more expensive to carry out well). Qualitative studies are also harder to report, and more prone to being influenced by researcher bias. In academic and medical circles, they tend to be less trusted and consequently are harder to get published. Ideally, if someone was to do a PhD on this topic it would be good for it to include a mix of both approaches.

  3. Excellent article Paul, I can relate to it so much on many levels. Over compensating in almost everything that I have achieved in life, just to feel normal, just to feel accepted, and to make sure my feelings of rejection were kept to a minimum made me stronger. When I give workshops on stuttering I always start on getting the people who attend to focus on the resources, talents, skills, achievements, that they have within them which have brought them to where they are now with their lives. We are not our stutter, we are so much more then that.

    • Hi Michael, Good to hear from you!
      We are indeed so much more than that. Which reminds me of something I think still needs to be discussed – in relation to pride and self-esteem. Certainly a key step in my journey was the realisation that trying to base my sense of self-esteem on what I had achieved in my life was not helping… and was not necessary. Ultimately, just the simple understanding that one is a human being – a person – is enough.

  4. This is a really insightful article. I am a first year student doing BSc Speech and language therapy and have learnt a lot from reading this research. Before I read this article i was not aware of how much positive influence having a stammer can bring about in one’s own and other people’s lives. This has allowed me to understand that stammering which can be a very difficult part of a person’s life can help build a stronger and more so a balanced character/personality. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Aksha, Yes indeed, and the positive aspects are potentially much greater than one might imagine. All the same, it took me a long time to start to realise that, or even to be open to the possibility. It makes me think there are probably a lot of positive aspects of stuttering that only really start to come to light as one grows older. Indeed, the inspiration for the survey came largely as a result of reading insights that people who stutter have written later on in their lives. Here’s a interesting quote from Heinrich (Henry, Hinko) Freund about his time in Berlin in 1932… “Also at that time, I met Albert Liebmann, who based his therapy on unison speaking. He was the teacher of Froeschels and a famous speech pathologist, who specialized in stuttering. Unfortunately, when I met him,
      he had suffered several strokes and showed their effects. Nevertheless,
      he was an inspiring person and I still remember vividly what he used to
      tell the stutterers who came to him: “One day you will bless the hour when you became a stutterer because you will find that stuttering was the stepping stone that led to your inner self-liberation.” Liebmann helped me realize that we are inclined to concentrate too much on the evils of stuttering and to overlook the fact that it can also enrich the life of a stutterer, by opening to him many inner vistas of understanding, empathy, and creativity.” Van Riper (1984) Henry Freund, Journal of Fluency Disorders 7

  5. Good afternoon Paul,

    I am a first year graduate student currently enrolled in a fluency course. I enjoyed reading your thoughts and the results of the survey you conducted. I believe that you addressed a very important concept that stammering is associated with many positive outcomes. I liked how you allowed the reader to think about the strengths that result from stammering rather than focusing on negative aspects. I found it very interesting to read that as you grew older you began to see that your earlier experiences of stammering were beneficial. I was wondering how you began to change your point of view from a negative light into a more positive outlook? As a future SLP, I would like to be able to help each client begin to transition to this more positive outlook that you have discussed and focus on the strengths they possess. Thanks again for providing this presentation with such useful information!

    Sincerely,
    Kelsey H.

    • Hi Kelsey, thanks for writing. As I wrote to Aksha11 (see my response above) it took quite a few years before I started to consider that stuttering could have positive aspects. Although, as I child, I was already aware that the stuttering was causing me develop in different directions compared to the people around me, my main desire back then was just to be ordinary and to be able to join in with the other kids. Probably the first time I seriously started to comtemplete that there could be good sides to it was when I was 21 – and joined a Zen group and started to meditate. I remember reading, in a book about Zen, how our attachment to speech and language becomes an obstacle that prevents us from perceiving reality more directly. And I remember thinking that perhaps as a stutterer I might find meditation relatively easy.

  6. Hello Paul,
    I really enjoyed your post. I think that so many people have a negative outlook on people who stutter and stammer and rarely are the positives discussed. I think that having these interpretations of how PWS view themselves could be a valuable tool to have when working with students and clients struggling with a stammer or stutter. Having students name positive things that have come about due to their stammer may be a helpful way for students to realize that not only negative things come from their speech difficulties. What do you feel are some of the ways that we can use these positive attributes and feelings in therapy sessions?

    • Hi Diana,
      Thanks for writing.
      Regarding your question about exploring positive attributes in therapy for people who stutter, I think it’s important that the therapist has a clear understanding about what level needs to be target. In my experience, people who stutter can present with identity-related issues on two different levels. Both of which can be helped with psychotherapy, although each needs a different approach. The first of these levels is relatively superficial – many clients are concerned about (and may discuss) how the stutter is negatively impacting on their ability to get on in the world… They tend to focus on practical difficulties – joining in with activities, finding jobs, and difficulties with some aspects of relationships. For clients who struggle with such practical things, it can be really useful to help them to identify their areas of strength. And of course, for that, it is useful for the therapist to have some background knowledge of the sort of things that PWS are particularly likely to excel at – including the things discussed in the presentation.
      The second level of “identity-related” issue that clients often come with is fundamentally different: It is a low or unstable sense of self-esteem. This is a much more profound problem. Essentially, a lot of people who stutter who come for therapy struggle to cope with life because they do not love themselves. Or rather, they don’t love what they perceive themselves to be. Although such clients will often cite their stuttering as the reason for their lack of self-love (self-esteem), the real reason for this lack is because they do not yet understand or do not yet recognise the qualities that they possess simply by virtue of the fact that they are human beings. They fail to see their own inner beauty. Consequently, they try to base their self-esteem on what they’ve got or on what they can do… for example, on their possessions, their physical attributes and abilities, their intelligence, their social status etc. etc. Unfortunately, none of these sources of self-esteem are stable or reliable, especially for people who stutter. So the solution to this problem is to help clients explore the basis of their self-esteem and to shift it to a deeper level… away from what they’ve got and what they can do, and towards what they “are”. To achieve this, ultimately, they need to explore, on a deep level, what it really means to be a person – a human being.
      In order, as a therapist, to be able to help clients in this journey, perhaps the most important thing is to have at least already embarked on this journey oneself. It is essentially a spiritual journey, and each of us has to find a way that is suited to our background and needs. My way into it was through Zen and mindfulness, but there are other ways too, including a whole branch of psychology, known as Person Centred Psychology, developed by Carl Rogers (whatever your background, it is well worth reading some of his books). Irrespective of the route you choose, the goal – for both the therapist as well as for the client – is the achievement of what Rogers called “Unconditional Positive Regard”. Unconditional Positive Regard is a sense of self-esteem that is stable and not dependent in any way on one’s possessions, achievements, or abilities. By its nature, if one has it at all, one has it equally both towards oneself and also towards all other people. Rogers considered it a pre-requisite that a psychotherapist should already have prior to giving psychotherapy. My own feeling is that one certainly needs to be working towards it, but the reality is that very few therapists achieve it before they start practicing. Actually, working as a therapist can be a great help with enabling one to develop it.

  7. Hi Paul,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and research with us! I found it very intriguing. You inspired me in many ways, especially by looking at stuttering in a different point of view than most people do. I think that it is important to incorporate such positive outlooks into the clinical setting. If we help our clients become aware of the positive outcomes that stuttering can have, such as becoming a better listener, or becoming more empathetic, then I believe it will change their psychoemotional status as well. Thank you again for your wonderful pieces of information. Your article will help me in my future practices as a speech-language pathologist.

    Amber

    • Hi Amber,
      Thank you for writing. I’ve just written (in my response to Diana’s message, above) a few paragraphs about the potential benefits of developing an awareness of the strengths associated with stuttering, and about the role that therapists can potentially play. Good luck with your future practice!
      Paul

  8. Hello there,
    I found your research very interesting! I have worked with school age fluency clients in my graduate studies and, as terrible as it sounds, have always focused on the negative connotations, attitudes and beliefs associated with stuttering. I appreciate being enlightened on focusing on the positive attributes too! That is something I look forward to sharing with future clients.

    Emily

  9. Hi Paul,

    Your post was very refreshing to read. I believe it’s important to always consider a person’s strengths and positive attributes instead of only focusing on the negative aspects of a disorder, especially in regards to confidence and self-esteem. The information you found in your survey is uplifting and definitely worth investigating in further research. I’m curious to see if those with severe stuttering would respond any differently than those with mild or moderate. It also would be interesting to compare these results to people with other types of speech related disorders. As a graduate student, I look forward to sharing this and exploring the positive outlooks of fluency clients in the future.

    Ashley

    • Hi Ashley,
      Thanks for writing. It would certainly be interesting and worthwhile to investigate differences between people with severe and mild stuttering symptoms in relation to their strengths. I would have liked to have investigated this myself, but in the survey I conducted, the number of participants was too small for it to be possible. I would expect that there probably would be some important differences, not least by virtue of the fact that severe stuttering is a very different experience to mild stuttering, and they tend to develop in different ways. So, for example, with mild stuttering the psychological symptoms are often more severe; also, mild stutterers are more likely to try to conceal the fact that they stutter. And, as you say, it would be interesting to see how the strengths of people who stutter compare with people with other speech and language disorders. My guess is that we may share many attributes in common with people with Tourettes Syndrome. A wider comparison may well show that we also have many similar strengths to people with bipolar disorder… As both of these conditions are mediated by dopamine, largely genetically determined, and involve cyclical patterns of remission and relapse, very similar to stuttering.

  10. Reading this from your powerpoint– “Having a stammer has enabled me to become a good communicator as I don’t take the spoken word for granted, value communication in all its many forms and am a good listener.”– was so great to see. Reading this statement made me believe how true this is. To be a good communicator, you don’t need to use your voice, there are many other modalities to convey a message. And I think this is a great message to be told to younger stutterers or to those struggling with their stutter– if they’re ashamed, afraid, etc. I think it would help relieve some of the stress and emotional struggle they may be feeling which would in turn only improve their stutter.
    As a first year graduate student on the speech path, I am currently in my first fluency course and so I want to gain as much knowledge on this new subject as I can and I believe that experience and first-hand knowledge are the most influential. I am most interested in working with children. If you could offer one piece of advice for children who stutter and are struggling, what would it be?
    Thank you for your share!

    • Hi Bailey, If someone had told me, when I was a kid, that I could have a stutter and also be a good communicator, I would have struggled to believe them. I equated successful communication with fluent speech. Of course back then, before the advent of social media, children’s communication opportunities really did depend a lot more on their ability to speak fluently. As a child, I was acutely aware that the main thing that made me feel socially excluded was my inability to engage in casual “chat” with my friends. Chatter – by its nature has to be lighthearted, easy and fun. However, for me, as with most severe stutterers, it took ages for words to come out, and when they did, they were laboured and never sounded light-hearted, and it was definitely not fun – neither for me, nor for the people I tried to chat to. So, back then, chatting was not an option. The advent of social media really has changed all that. I know that many adults don’t consider social media to be a good thing for children. And, yes, of course it does have its dangers. But for children who stutter – especially children whose stuttering symptoms are severe – it is a blessing, and I would wholeheartedly encourage parents of children with severe stutters to encourage their children to take maximum advantage of it. Social media makes chatting possible – no matter how severely one stutters… and the ability to engage in and enjoy chatting is such an important aspect of social development for young children.

      • Yes, I completely agree! Thanks again for the share. This all has improved my understanding of fluency greatly.

  11. Hello Paul,

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful research. Like a few others have commented, I am so grateful you wrote this post to point out all the benefits and positive outcomes that can result from being a PWS. As a future SLP, I can see how counseling PWS about the many benefits that can come from having a stutter can bring about a change in their perception of themselves and others. Thank you for sharing such great insights; your message has definitely caused me to ponder this topic more, and how I can apply this to my own life. I will definitely have to save your article for future reference.

    Thank you again,
    Natalie Asay

  12. Hello Paul,

    Thank you for sharing insight about hidden strengths of PWS. This is honestly the first time I am seeing work on strengths instead of weaknesses, and I must say it is refreshing! It is also wonderful to know that you did not allow your stammering stop you from pursuing your interests, such as this field. Your contributions are valuable.
    I am currently a first year SLP graduate student with limited experience in stuttering and have yet to take a course in the subject at the graduate level. From what I have read and witnessed during previous SLP observations thus far, are discussions of negative impacts. Why is it that we tend to always focus on the negatives? In addition, next semester I will have the opportunity to work with a PWS and I would like to make it a point to ask him or her about strengths. I wonder if I work with a child, if their strengths will differ from the ones presented by the adults in your survey. What do you think?

    Jessica

    • Hi Jessica, that’s a good question! – One that really needs some research in order to be able to answer.
      From a theoretical perspective its worth bearing in mind that there are two major reasons why people who stutter are likely to excel in certain aspects of life.
      The first is because the genetic factors that predispose to stuttering are also likely to predispose to positive traits that have some special survival value. It’s quite likely that those positive traits may be evident in children who stutter more or less straight away.
      The second reason why PWS are likely to excel in certain areas of life is because they tend to learn to compensate for stuttering by focusing their efforts and attention in other areas. Such compensation-based strengths and skills are likely to develop somewhat later on.
      Personally I have a feeling that creativity is a largely inherited trait that stutterers are likely to be born with. However, how it manifests may be influenced by compensatory behaviours. So for example, a stutterer may be creative right from the start. However, later in life, due to compensatory pressures, they may become accomplished writers, singers or actors… because stuttering generally isn’t a problem when writing, singing, or acting.

    • Hi Jessica and Paul,

      I am a second year SLP graduate student and am working with an elementary student who stutters. As I read this powerpoint I was thinking of her and trying to figure out how I could use this information in therapy. I think she is too young to identify strengths from her stutter. Yet, together we could come up with things that she is good at and discuss how communication is more than just words. She may not immediately see the positive characteristics that PWS have but hopefully I can plant a seed that will grow.Thank you Paul for sharing your story.

      Kliss

  13. Hello Paul,
    I very much enjoyed your presentation and was especially intrigued by the idea of stuttering having evolutionary value. That is, there must be some positive and valuable trait (like those with sickle-cell anemia being resistant to malaria) associated with the gene(s) for stuttering to select for it. Your argument about the role of hypersensitivity through the life cycle was also thought-provoking. I’d like to add these ideas to my course on fluency disorders, the next time I teach it, as well as raise it at our next stuttering support group meeting. Beyond your own research and the study cited in your slides, can you recommend some references? or further readings?
    Thank you,
    Caroline in Canada

    • Hi Caroline,
      I think it would be great for such ideas to be discussed in fluency/stuttering modules for student SLPs etc.
      My own interest in the topic arose when I first started studying psychology – and was introduced to the “Group Splitting Hypothesis of Schizophrenia”. However, I was unable to find any published articles or research into positive traits and stuttering. So my research (and the slideshow) has been largely inspired by publications on positive traits in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. I think it is likely that some of the traits found in people with these disorders (like sensitivity and creativity) may stem from an inherited tendency towards high dopamine levels – which is also likely to exist in at least some people who stutter. Last year, at the IFA conference in Lisbon, Prof. Harald Euler (from Kassel University, Germany) gave a very good talk which touched on some of these topics. He’s a specialist in Evolutionary psychology. I think his talk was entitled “Why hasn’t stuttering died out”. He doesn’t appear to have published anything on the topic. However, if you are an IFA member, you may be able to access the conference proceedings. For a broader perspective, if you do a Google Search of words like sensitivity and creativity together with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, it will bring up lots of research articles.

  14. Hello Paul,

    I really enjoyed going through your presentation and reading about the hidden strengths of stammering and how it could change a person for the better. Although there is limited research on the subject, I think it’s a fascinating topic for more research to be done. Being able to look at the strengths vs the weaknesses associated with not only stammering, but different life challenges can really help a person to cope and discover a whole new side of themselves they wouldn’t have known existed otherwise. Great job!

    -Jaclyn

  15. Hey Paul!

    It is clear through your presentation that stuttering definitely has a empathetic effect on individuals, and I really enjoy how you tied everything together to an evolutionary perspective. It is so important to know that stuttering is not a complete and total hindrance, and that it certainly does make a person who cannot speak clearly an outcast. Surely since man has been speaking to one another there must have been communities who helped PWS and tried to lessen or help its effect on an individual.

    I must ask about meditation’s impact on individuals who study and what kinds you employ. Certainly a focus I would be interested in employing is a mantra, a nonsense word or phrase that can be repeated inwardly and outwardly to help anxiety and stuttering, have you had any experience with this? It could also be very advantageous to know that if there is a recurrence of communication breakdown on a given mantra, if it has an inhibitory or therapeutical effect on an individual, namely if it can cause stuttering based on anticipation. I would really like to know what you have seen or what you think!

    • Hi Sam,
      Thanks for writing. Regarding meditation, I think it certainly can play a very useful role in helping people who stutter. I wrote an essay about this in which I discuss the relationship between meditation and stuttering in some detail. You can access online at http://www.stammeringresearch.org/mindfulness.pdf (My own experiences stem primarily from my practice of Zen)
      Regarding the use of mantras, although I am not aware of any published research on this, I can quite confidently say that people who stutter do not stutter when reciting mantras. However, the reasons for this may simply be to do with the effect of rhythmic repetition on fluency… in as much as repeating a mantra establishes rhythm whereby the forward flow of speech takes priority over the phonological accuracy. Whenever one ascribes a higher priority to the forward flow than to the phonological accuracy, stuttering tends not to occur. I think such practices can have a therapeutic effect if adapted in a suitable way. The experiences of chanting were instrumental in helping me to find a way of speaking that enabled me to get through blocks. However, as yet, there has not been any empirical research to test the effect of mantra repetition on stuttering.

  16. Hi Paul,

    Thank you so much for your article. After reading it, I was wondering what your thoughts were on possible cultural differences in stuttering. I’m currently in graduate school to become an SLP in the USA, and couldn’t help but think if there would be a difference in positive/negative thinking if the study were done with US participants vs. UK participants?

    Or, if you’ve thought about potential differences due to age, gender, or even socioeconomic class?

    Thank you!
    Chelsey

    • Hi Chelsey,
      My personal belief is that culture can have a profound effect on stuttering. Indeed, over the past 40 years I have experienced how much easier it is now to be open about stuttering than it used to be. When I was a kid, many people considered stuttering to be some sort of moral weakness that needed to be punished. People also thought stutterers have no guts and needed to be toughened up. These sort of attitudes would have caused many people who stutter to try to hide the fact that they stutter or to simply avoid speaking situations. Now, largely thanks to educational organisations like The Stuttering Foundation, and the various activities of self-help stuttering associations (like the NSA chapters and the BSA in the UK) people’s attitudes in many countries have been fundamentally changed (for the better). There are, however, still many countries where this is not the case, and stuttering is still considered something to be ashamed of. It’s likely that PWS in those countries may find it more difficult to conceive of ways in which stuttering has benefitted them. But who knows! Ultimately, one would have to do a survey to find out. In terms of class differences, my personal experience in England is that the less educated people seem to be less tolerant of any differences to the norm, and I’ve met many stutterers from such backgrounds who had a very difficult time – both from their parents and also from school, when growing up. I firmly believe that a good, broad education is really important – not just in order to make people more tolerant of stuttering but also of individual differences generally. However, having a high socio-economic stateus does not necessarily always equate with having a good broad education.
      I think there may well be gender and age differences in terms of how PWS perceive their strenghts. Of course, this can be tied in with culture inasmuch as what is considered a “strength” for a man is not always considered a strength for a woman (and vice versa). Regarding age, my own experience (as I mentioned in the slideshow) was that, when I was young, I was largely unaware of any positive things stemming from my stutter. It’s only as I’ve grown older that that awareness has started to develop.

  17. Hello Paul,

    I enjoyed reading through your paper and PowerPoint. One of my professors, that I will never forget, always tell us that “everyone has a story to tell, so let them tell it”. He also focuses on the positive of all experiences, so I enjoyed reading through the PowerPoint that do highlight the strengths of people who stutter have. I hope others see this and are able to look at their situation in a much more positive light!

    Thanks again for sharing,

    Amber

  18. Hello Paul,

    Thank you for a thorough presentation! It was a valuable learning experience for me, as I am a first year graduate student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program. I really enjoyed the concept you presented that stuttering is not about weaknesses as much as it is strengths. I believe that each person is the sum of their experiences and beliefs. If we can change the idea that stuttering is “wrong”, then I believe each person who stutters who has any self doubt could have a completely different outlook. It is essential that people recognize that:
    1. Fluency means something different to each person and there is no true standard.
    2. People who stutter simply have a different way of communicating, not a bad way of communicating.
    3. People who stutter have strengths as a result of their experiences that others do not.
    If society can come to accept these truths, then much of the stigma surrounding stuttering could be decreased. Every person has their own experiences and beliefs that shape their understanding of life, and no other person could invalidate those experiences. People who stutter have strengths that others do not as a result of their personal journey through life, and that is something that should always be celebrated!

    Thank you for your contributions,

    Shannon Schield

  19. Hi Paul,
    I really love the concept of approaching stuttering with positive psychology by focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses. I think it is important for PWSs to understand that while stammering can be a very difficult aspect of their life, there are other more constructive ways to view it. I am a graduate student in a speech pathology program, and this article resonated with me. Thank you for sharing this article, as well as other insights into therapy that were mentioned throughout the comments. All of this is extremely important and I am grateful to have been enlightened!

  20. Hi Paul,
    Thank you for sharing your interesting research findings. This is the first study I have encountered that looked at the positive aspects of stuttering. I like that you investigated both how a person who stutters perceives their stuttering as beneficial to themselves, and also others. I am curious if there have been any studies similar to this one that you know of that have surveyed people who are around someone or have met someone who stuttered and how interacting with the person who stutters has been beneficial to them? I think this would be interesting to see if the reports of others confirm or add to the positive impacts that individuals who stutter have identified about themselves in your study results.
    Sincerely,
    Laura

  21. Hi Paul,

    This was such an amazing article! I love how you speak about stuttering in a positive light. I am a graduate student right now, and I will definitely be referencing this when I talk to my future clients about their stuttering. Being empathetic and receptive to others is an invaluable skill, and I think recognizing that as a strength would probably help lead to acceptance for PWS.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

    Sierra Kamplain