Speak Your Mind | Reversing the Stigma of Stuttering – John Moore

About the Author: JOHN MOORE is a marketing strategist, professional speaker, business book author and lifelong person who stutters. He played an instrumental role in the marketing that transformed Starbucks into a global icon and served as director of national marketing for Whole Foods Market. His consultancy, the Brand Autopsy Marketing Practice, works with organizations that are driven by purpose, not just profits. John has been involved with the National Stuttering Association since 2011 and currently lives in Greenville, SC.

The public stigma is real and damaging to we who stutter. John Moore challenges the stuttering community to “pave it forward” in order to break the stigma of stuttering.

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Speak Your Mind | Reversing the Stigma of Stuttering – John Moore — 14 Comments

  1. Great vid John.

    I am a big fan of Boyle’s (among others) work on self-stigma in people who stammer and you present it very well. The ‘Why try effect’ is well known but Corrigan also talked about a paradox of self-stigma and that the opposite effect is possible. That people can be ‘energised by prejudice and express righteous anger’ in the face of self-stigma, perhaps like this video…

    Paper on paradox of self-stigma: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1093/clipsy.9.1.35

    • Patrick… I probably fall into the group of people who get “energized” when facing public stigma challenges. I love stories of redemption and find motivation to overcome what others think I’m not capable of doing. Boyle’s work is awesome. I tried to summarize some of the more salient points in his research. Thanks for adding your voice here.

  2. Thanks for the video and I really like your Pave It Forward statement. I’ve only recently begun to try to be an advocate for people who stutter in hopes that the public can educated about stuttering and hopefully another person who stutters can get that job without the stereotypes associated with our stutter.

    • Vikesh… at some point, self-advocacy can become selfless-advocacy. For those of us who have found our rhythm in life living with stuttering, it’s our responsible to be selfless to help others like us. You get it. I admire what you have done, are doing and will continue doing to break the stigma of stuttering.

        • Daniele… you’ve been “Paving it Forward” for years with selfless-advocacy. Thank you for being a person who stutters strong, all day long and sets an example that’s more than ample to inspire that lights a fire for PWS to find success.

    • Adam… yeah, the “Stutter Monster” is always there trying to beat us down. Trying to stop us from doing what makes us comfortable. Love your video documentary. Keep fighting for we who stutter. And keep thwarting the pesky “Stutter Monster.”

  3. Hi John, I appreciate the fact that you speak to the concept of “one person at a time.” As a clinical professor, speech-language pathologist, and family member of persons who stutter, it sometimes feels overwhelming when we seek to fight stigma or engage in any advocacy effort. It’s easy to think, can my small efforts really make a difference? Thank you for the reminder that when we “pave the road” for one person, that person’s experience shapes another life and another and another…

    My (our) intentional actions can actually change the life of one…and the lives of many who come into contact with that one. Selfless advocacy – LOVE that thought!

    • Paula… I read a research paper on anti-stigma campaigns where the author cited another study that outlined three approaches for campaigns to take. The “interpersonal contact” approach was shown to have the greatest impact. People connecting directly and getting to know someone is an effective way to reverse stigmas. That approach is exactly what I mean by saying PWS need to reach “one person at a time” to show them PWS are more than capable.

      Thanks for your positive comments. I also like the “selfless advocacy” angle.

  4. Hi, I am a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth and am taking a course focused on advanced fluency disorders. I am not a person who stutters but this was a great video that helped me take the perspective of a person who stutters. It is unfortunate that society has created a stigma of people who stutter and have treated them unfairly. It is important that as SLPs we are able to advocate for these individuals and also help them advocate for themselves. Do you have any advice for SLPs helping people who stutter self-advocate for themselves in situations where they feel the stigma of society?

  5. Bridget, I lead a supportive group for people who stutter. It’s a local chapter of the National Stuttering Association. We’ve talked about self-advocacy many times and some PWS are not yet comfortable advocating for themselves. Before self-advocacy can happen, self-acceptance must have occurred.

    In our group, I define SELF-ACCEPTANCE as… an invitation to stop trying to change yourself into the person you wish to be. Instead, it’s about being comfortable with the person you have become. Some PWS have reached the point of self-acceptance and some haven’t.

    If a PWS is comfortable with themselves then they’ve reached a turning point in their life and they can begin practicing self-advocacy.

    Back to the group setting, I define SELF-ADVOCACY as… when you speak or act on your behalf to improve your quality of life, affect personal change, and or correct inequalities you’ve encountered.

    We then do a group activity that focuses on self-advocacy. This role-playing scenario activity might be helpful for SLPs to use with PWS to get them in the frame of mind to advocate for themselves when they feel mistreated.

    Have the PWS read aloud a scenario (listed below) and get that person to talk about how they would respond. This activity might encourage PWS to stand up for themselves in inconsequential and consequential situations.

    You are ordering a cup of coffee and the barista asks for your name. You begin to block. The barista says, “Did you forget your name?” What do you do next?

    You are on a job interview. The job involves talking with people in-person and on the phone. You advertise your stutter and your prospective employer says, “Do you think you can handle the job having a stutter?” How do you respond?

    You get pulled over by a police officer. He begins to ask you questions and you block. He looks at you funny and asks if you okay. What’s your response?

    You call your credit card company and the customer service representative asks you to read the numbers on your card. You stutter on the first number. You tell the person that you stutter and they say, “That’s okay. I stutter too.” Knowing this person doesn’t stutter, how do you respond?

    You are out with your friends and one of them keeps finishing your sentences. How do you explain to them this is something that they shouldn’t do?

    It’s International Stuttering Awareness Day, how do you help your friends on social media understand stuttering?

    • Thank you for answering my questions! You provide great activities that SLPs can use to help PWS advocate for themselves. I like how you added the part about self-acceptance and how it has to occur before PWS can self-advocate. So helpful!

  6. So true! I didn’t know I was the only one who stuttered until I was 27. I than got a broschure in my hand, about the Swedish stuttering association. What??? Why didn’t I know? I spent so many years feeling lonely, misunderstood, helpless, unworthy to speak. After meeting my stamily, I promised myself to become the face and the voice for pws. It’s been tough, as I had to deal with my demons be break free. But I did, thanks to people cheering me, picking me up, giving me that extra push when I wanted to give up.

    I’ve spoken to pre-school children, to EU politicians, at congresses and in front of the grocery shop. I have been an organizer to camps for children and young pws for almost 30 years. I’m getting older and have health issues, but When I hear their stories, I realize they are where I was, searching for answers, understanding, for that push to skip the safe and unhappy road, and to make a brand new path, full of hope and joy. I’m angry that there still are so many young people who don’t get help in school, who are bullied, who think they are alone. Children, young people, adults, parents, etc.

    We have to pay it forward, as there are so many who need our voice. Together, but also one by one, as we all can make a difference. If we all talk to one other person and explain what stuttering is, if we tell one more person that the 22nd is the ISAD (“the what???”), we create the butterfly effect.

    Thanks so much for your presentation. Happy ISAD and keep talking.

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