Four Ways to Kick Stuttering Butt – Daniele Rossi

About the Author: Daniele Rossi is a digital strategist and cartoonist living in Toronto. Stuttering and drawing comics since he was 4 years old, Daniele grew up to produce the Stuttering is Cool podcast and book of the same name with the latter featuring comics starring Franky Banky, a cartoon fox who stutters. An active participant in the global stuttering community, Daniele co-founded Stutter Social, an online community facilitating group video chats for people who stutter all over the world; is an advisory member to the board of the Canadian Stuttering Association; and draws Franky Banky comics for the Association bègaiement communication quarterly newsletter. Since his first name can be difficult even for English-language non-stutterers to say fluently, you can call him Danny.

In this “drawtoon”, I enlist the help from Franky Banky, a cartoon fox who stutters, to explain how you can live the life you want in spite of your stuttering. All it takes are four simple steps. While they are easier said than done (no pun intended), they are definitely worth it as you grow less fearful of speaking situations as you face them one small step at a time.

It worked for me. Mostly because I never received any negative responses when I simply explained to others that I stuttered. What is really awesome is this often leads to a conversation about what stuttering is, debunking misconceptions, and sometimes you learn the other person stutters, too!

Even more awesome is stuttering openly and showing that you’re ok with it, gives the message to other person that they can be ok with your stuttering, too.

And even more awesome is stuttering openly and showing you’re ok with it also gives the impression that you are a confident person! After all, we live in a society that demands perfection which is humanly impossible. To be able to be perfectly fine with imperfection(s) is a sign of confidence. And confidence is what attracts people to you.

You will also experience the reality that people don’t care that you stutter in the first place.

I stutter. So what?

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Comments

Four Ways to Kick Stuttering Butt – Daniele Rossi — 50 Comments

  1. Mr. Rossi, this is so inspiring! I will be happy to share this with my students who are learning about stuttering and with my support group members. What a great, helpful way to educate people who stutter.

  2. I love it as always. Very helpful and I like the style of the video. Eyecontact is the one I need to work on the most. Also your voice is nice to listen to 🙂

  3. This is an awesome video! You’re very talented. I love the cartoons. I also love the idea behind stutter social. Brilliant! I linked your video in my stuttering blog, AArielRenee.com.

  4. Hi Daniele, I really enjoyed your video! I am taking a graduate course on stuttering at Idaho State University (ISU) this semester and have been learning a lot. I have never personally met (or noticed) someone who stuttered until I came to ISU. I like the comment you made when you said, “The problem isn’t stuttering; it’s the lack of awareness in the world.” I absolutely believe this statement. I also think can be useful to bring that awareness into the world by getting out and speaking openly with others and stuttering in your everyday interactions. We have been discussing whether or not we think someone should disclose a stutter in different speaking situations, and it seems like you are advocating for disclosing during most, if not all, situations. Is there ever a time that you would not disclose your stutter to someone? Also, you talk a lot about how these main points can help you get over your fear. What is it that you fear in these situations?

  5. Thanks barbcody. I gauge when I want to disclose or not. Sometimes I feel in the moment that is isn’t necessary. My goal is to disclose gracefully and with a it-is-not-a-big-deal smile as sometimes I may come across a sharp. One situation I’m still trying to figure out is wether or not to disclose when giving a presentation. I tend to disclose at the beginning of presentations but I know some PWS don’t. For example, Grant Meredith’s paper touches on this (Grant does not disclose because he figures the audience will eventually figure it out).

    The fears I address in the video are the fears of stuttering openly, fears of being seen in a negative light. Since stuttering awareness is needed, PWS tend to be mistaken as being unintelligent, nervous, scared, or weird. Not something anyone would like to feel as they are trying to make friends, get a job, or find romance. So really, my video is all about desensitizing yourself from all those fears so you can say what you want to say with ease.

    Great questions!

    • Thanks Árni! Franky Banky enjoyed his misadventures and is looking forward to going back some day and checking out the glacier lagoon. No chances of any misadventure there I’m sure!

  6. Hi Daniele!

    Loved the drawtoon. I’m so glad that you did not receive any negative comments during your interaction with others. I’m also glad you had the chance to explain what stuttering is along with it’s misconceptions! Do you have any friends that were not as fortunate as you?- Did they receive negative feedback from others? If so, how did they handle this, or what do you think is the best way to handle that situation? I am a graduate student that will soon be working as a speech-language pathologist, and I would love to know so I can pass the word along to others who might need it.

    Best,
    Natalie

  7. Thanks Natalie! Not sure where you learned that I did not receive any negative comments during my interaction with others because that isn’t true 🙂 I’ve always had negative comments and other kind of negative feedback like funny looks. It’s just not as often today now that I’m older. I highly doubt any pws never experienced at least one negative comment about their stuttering. My video pretty much explains what worked for me (just explain that you stutter and do it with a smile and maybe some humour).

    • Sorry Daniele, I was not clear with my question. You stated that you did not receive negative feedback when you demonstrated using the 4 simple steps. 🙂 I should have asked “Do you know anyone who used your steps and not receive positive feedback?” You answered my question though; explain that you stutter, smile, and use some humor.

      Thanks for sharing this video and your experience!
      Natalie

      • Thanks for clearing that up, Natalie. I know a few pws who were mistreated by restaurant staff even after disclosing which goes to show that we have no control over other people’s actions.

  8. Hi Daniele-

    Thank you for creating this wonderful cartoon. I really liked how you presented clear cut steps and tips for successful communication interactions in such a visual and user friendly way. The second I saw that your character was a fox named Franky Banky I had to watch it.

    I appreciated how you explained self-disclosure and stuttering openly. Any tips for people who are struggling with the concept of stuttering openly? I know it can be a really scary thought for someone who has spent a lot of time trying to do the opposite?

    “May your stuttering be with confidence!” I love this idea.

    Thank you again,
    Megan Izzo

    • Thanks for your enjoying my cartoon, Megan!

      The only tip I can give for those who are struggling with stuttering openly is to take small steps out of their comfort zone. For instance, stuttering openly once to a friend. Then try it a second time. Then try it with other people, strangers, co-workers. We fear something less every time we try something out of our comfort zone. We decrease whatever we fear every time we face that fear. Same thing with stuttering openly. For me, once I realized I was receiving positive feedback when I stuttered openly, and the sky didn’t fall on my head, I feared less and less about stuttering openly (the fear isn’t totally gone though!).

      Actually, I have another tip that may help. Voluntary stuttering! I haven’t tried it but a few of my friends did and they swear by it. I drew a Franky Banky comic about the topic at http://stutteringiscool.com/comics/voluntary-stuttering/.

      And as mentioned, hanging out with others who stutter can encourage someone struggling with stuttering openly because they will witness the positive feedback (and what to do when there is negative feedback) when others stutter.

  9. Daniele,

    I appreciated your cartoon and the simplicity of the steps. I’m working with a couple of elementary age students who will benefit from seeing it! The thing I am trying to balance is being okay with stuttering and implementing fluency techniques. One girl had already been taught techniques before I started working with her and is having a difficult time accepting stuttering. We’ve stepped back and are only talking about openness and acceptance and changing her negative thoughts. Any thoughts as to how to balance be accepting of stuttering and to provide fluency techniques that I’m worried the student might see as a “fix”?

    Thank you!
    Jessica

    • This has always been a tough one for me to answer!

      However I have come to feel that it all depends on what the pws wants. While I’m not an SLP, I’ve met SLPs who “get it” use positive language in therapy sessions and acknowledge when the child successfully pushed through a stutter (“I know that was difficult for you to say, but you persisted and went through it. That was awesome!”. A better example is mentioned on the My Stuttering Life podcast during an interview with SLP, Evan Sherman at https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/anchor-podcasts/my-stuttering-life/e/58887355).

  10. Hi Daniele,
    This is a fantastic cartoon for all ages. I’m a graduate student in speech-language pathology, and I feel like this would be a great video to either introduce these strategies or to use it as a recap after discussing the different topics with a client. I think the empowering tone would be really helpful, especially for children who may learn that they can take control of their stutter and teach the world something new. I want to ask you for advice related to getting a child to self-disclose to others that they are a person who stutters because I understand that some children may be hesitant to do this because they are scared to get out of their comfort zone. What have you found helpful that allowed you to step out of your comfort zone as a child, or what would you have wanted someone like a speech therapist to do to help you seek discomfort?

    Thanks,
    Viviana

    • Thanks Viviana!

      That’s a tough one for me to answer only because I’m the type to look at what the individual wants. And I’m well aware at how much I am not a trained SLP by any stretch of the imagination 🙃 I can’t use my childhood experiences as an example because I thought speech therapy was a cure for stuttering and that it was my fault I didn’t keep up with my speech tools. Maybe that can be the first thing to address; stuttering isn’t bad. This is giving me some fodder for a future episode of my podcast. Stay tuned!

      Another piece do advice can be to encourage the parents to have their child meet other kids who stutter. If you’ rein the U.S., they can find family chapters of the NSA in their area. If there aren’t any, there’s always the conference! The NSA kid programs are awesome and many friendships are made.

  11. Hi Daniele,

    I’m a graduate student in a fairly remote area in southeast Idaho, and I often wonder how to connect kids with more resources about stuttering. Sometimes I forget that the internet is such a wealth of knowledge and social connection! I will most definitely encourage kids that I work with to check out Stutter Social (with their parents permission).

    While these suggestions are “easier said than done,” I can see how breaking the tasks down and modeling them for kids that I work with could make them more accessible. This is the first time that I have heard of Franky Banky, and I look forward to sharing more of his story with children who stutter that I get the privilege to work with.

    Thank you!
    Taylor

    • Hi Taylor,

      Glad you liked Franky Banky! There are more comics over at stutteringiscool.com.

      The Stutter Social sessions are currently for adults only. We don’t have any official policy regarding adults who have a minor with them. Until we have a formal policy, we will leave this to the discretion the parent and furthermore by the session’s host. It may be best to let us know what day you plan on attending so we can put you in touch with the host for that evening so you can discuss with them ahead of time.

  12. Hello Daniele,

    Thank you so much for your article and video. It’s truly an inspiration to me as a future Speech Language Pathologist to spread positive awareness about things such as stuttering. I have noticed very many similarities in the deaf community as well as the PWS. The kinds of backlash and trying to make people bend to what the “majority” is instead of accepting each person’s individual uniqueness. Have you personally noticed others who don’t stutter often feel more comfortable when you and others who stutter, convey such great confidence? You are truly an inspiration and I will try my hardest in my life to continue to spread positive awareness to help defeat the negative stereotypes.

    Thank you,
    Casey

    • Thanks Casey for not only your kind words but also doing your part in spreading positive awareness. To answer your question about whether others around me feeling more comfortable when I stutter and convey confidence —I think so, yes. Because no one seemed to be uneasy with me 🙂

  13. Hi Daniele,

    I think you are absolutely right that the real problem is lack of awareness of stuttering, not stuttering itself. I think it’s great that you are producing so much media in order to increase that awareness. I went to your site and listened to a little of a few podcast episodes in addition to your comics, and they were really insightful. Do you have any other recommendations for good podcasts/youtube channels/artists that talk about stuttering? I would love to get more involved in that realm.

    • All of them! 🙂 A search on your favourite podcasting software will bring up shows such as Women Who Stutter and My Stuttering Life. Recently, a new one merged hosted by a teen who stutters named Stuttering Since ‘02. It’s a great time to be an SLP!

  14. Hello Daniele,
    Thank you for this great cartoon! I am a speech pathologist graduate student and already want to add this to my growing pile of stuttering resources. I especially like how you present the idea of disclosing as a way to spread awareness for stuttering which is lacking in our world today. In my mind, it takes the pressure off the individual as a “duty” to disclose, for their listener’s sake, and presents it more as a benefit to all individuals who stutter by raising that awareness. What would you say to an individual that may feel that disclosing only further defines them by their stutter, and not by who they are as an individual? Thank you for your insights and for introducing me to Franky Banky!
    Nicole

    • That’s a good question 🤔 We don’t have any control over how others think of us so why worry if someone else defines you as someone who stutters? You already are someone who stutters anyway. You can be someone who stutters and plays basketball very well. Or someone who plays basketball very well and happens to stutter. Or someone who plays basketball very well. Or someone with blonde hair. Or someone with green eyes. Anyone who treats you negatively really isn’t worth your time. If explaining what stuttering is isn’t enough, well, move on from that person and focus on the people who do see past your stuttering.

      It all depends on the context of how someone is “defined” by their stuttering. In the stuttering community, we see George Springer as a pws who plays baseball — in a positive light. Not in a perspective of pity or negativity.

  15. Hi Danny, we enjoy your podcast and also enjoyed your video. We are currently graduate SLP students enrolled in a course that covers stuttering. We thought it was interesting you included eye contact in your top four points. In our coursework, we’ve learned a lot about the importance of eye contact. We’re curious why you consider it so important and what experiences helped shaped that belief? Additionally, we were wondering if you have any suggestions for those who may have cultural differences and how that might affect eye contact? Thanks so much for your time. We appreciate any tips or suggestions you can share!
    Best,
    Rosi, Sarah, Maggie

    • Thanks for enjoying my podcasts!

      Excellent point about cultural differences towards eye contact. If eye contact is deemed socially wrong, then perhaps skip that tip. I gave eye contact importance because it forms a connection with the person you are speaking to as well as shows confidence and honesty. When someone looks away or doesn’t keep eye contact (regardless if they stutter or not), I feel a disconnect and wonder if they are feeling down or scared.

  16. Good afternoon,
    I love how simple and effective this cartoon is. I think it is an excellent way to portray a serious subject in a more light hearted manner. In a way it portrays that stuttering doesn’t have to be such a serious and scary thing, it’s just part of who some people are. I totally agree that the problem isn’t the stuttering but the lack of knowledge about it. As an SLP grad student, I would love to use this as an easy and entertaining way to introduce these ideas to any fluency clients I may have in the future. This video gave many great resources.
    Thanks so much for sharing with us!
    Taylor

  17. Daniele,
    I am studying to become an SLP. I was wondering if you came up with these 4 (really awesome) tips on your own from experience, through therapy (if you have had any), or a combination of the two?

    I think that as someone who does not stutter, this video is an easy to understand and succinct way to begin to understand that there is a real impact caused by stuttering. I believe if I had not already know a significant amount about stuttering, that this video would peak my interest and I would like to research and educate myself about the topic! In order to increase my awareness that is. What an awesome resource (and really great cartoon skills)!

    Another question, which may be a bit more obscure. Do you feel you developed a sense of humor to help with your stutter or that you are just a naturally humorous person? I ask because I have noticed that a few of the people who I have met who stutter use humor but what about those who are not naturally funny or have a difficult time coming up with jokes.

    • Thanks for enjoying my cartoons! And I’m glad that my video is understandable by fluents. I didn’t even think of that when I set out to make the video.

      I came up with these through personal experience as well as learning from others who stutter.

      My sense of humour came from years of watching cartoons and sitcoms as well as hanging out with others with a sense of humour. I also found that healthy self-deprecating humour also helps in showing that stuttering is something I’m ok with. No idea what tips to give pws who aren’t naturally funny except to do what they feel comfortable with. If they want to use humour, the fortunate thing is humour is a skill you can build. Just like I had to 🙂

      • Maybe you could consider building cartoons wiht Franky Banky to educate the fluent about stuttering 🙂 Let me know if you do! I would love to watch/read them!

        I haven’t ever thought of humor as a skill to build and grow but that is a great thought!

        Thank you for replying!

  18. Hi Daniele,
    Thank you for sharing this creative video with us. I felt that all four of the mentioned tips are simple, yet can make a big difference for someone who stutters. The first tip you discussed was about disclosing your stutter at the beginning of new conversations with unfamiliar listeners. Is there ever a situation that you prefer not to disclose this? If so, why? I am a graduate SLP student currently studying fluency disorders and trying to gain a better understanding of the emotional impact that stuttering has on an individual. If you don’t mind me asking, what kind of emotional impact do you think stuttering has had in your life? And has this changed over the course of your life? On a side note, I looked at your website and I think it’s great! Very lighthearted and such a positive resource for anyone who is having a difficult time with their stutter!

  19. Wow so many good questions! Yes, there have been times and there continues to be time when I don’t disclose my stuttering. Sometimes it’s a matter of preference. I just don’t feel like it 🙂 Other times it’s a timing thing. There seems to be an art in knowing when to gracefully disclose without sounding sharp or annoyed (for example, when someone finishes your sentence). One time, a friend of mine who also stutters told me he doesn’t bother disclosing because he didn’t feel it was necessary. If he gets laughed at, he asks “did I say something funny?”. It all depends on the individual 🙂

    Stuttering has indeed made an emotional impact on my life. It changed over the years from something shameful that I tried to hide, something that was my fault, something that caused me to feel inferior to others… to something that truly isn’t anyone’s fault and a strength. Something I can use to my benefit. Something that I’m totally ok with. It’s also a testament to the challenges that I overcame 🙂

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