Just Stutter – Willemijn Bolks

About the Author: My name is Willemijn Bolks, I’m 20 years old and I’m from the Netherlands. I’ve been stuttering since I could speak. My relationship with stuttering has changed a lot over the years, but I’ve always used art to express my feelings surrounding stuttering. This eventually got me into artschool, where I now study illustration & animation. I hope I can use my creative skills to spread more awareness about stuttering in the future.

This animation is about how you can overcome (your problems surrounding) stuttering by stuttering.

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Comments

Just Stutter – Willemijn Bolks — 45 Comments

  1. Willemijn Hi! Loved your current video and previous works you have done.
    Is it possible for you to enable “Community Contribution” in the “Add subtitles” section on YouTube, so we’ll be able to add optional Hebrew subtitles to your video?
    Thanks!

  2. I like your statement, “just stutter.” In my fluency class at Idaho State University, we have been talking a little about the idea of treating a stutter by seeking to avoid improved or even perfect fluency or focusing on confidence and self-efficacy. One of the other videos that I watched on this website mentioned how stuttering in public is a way to raise awareness. I think this is very important. I was not familiar with anyone in my circle of friends or my hometown community who stuttered, whether that was because someone was hiding it or because I simply didn’t notice or was not aware of the stutter. But I am grateful for the things I’ve been learning and hope to try and bring awareness when I have to do my pseudostuttering project for class. I loved what you said at the end of your video: “it’s easier said than done, but maybe not in our case.” Great video, thanks for sharing!

  3. Hey Willemijn, I loved your video and look forward to seeing your future creations as you use your illustration and animation skills to advocate on behalf of those who stutter. I think that you are doing great work. Keep it up!

  4. Wow, Willemijn! This is such a splendid message.

    “Just Stutter” – such a simple and important attitude.

    Thank you so much for creating this.
    Hanan

  5. I love this message because its so true, I love also how you put it in such a poetic format and the illustration is fantastic.

    Let’s just stutter

    Arni

  6. Great message..just stutter and be yourself. In most cases the only person who cares how you talk is actually yourself

  7. Hi Willemijn,
    Your message is wonderful! I like how you explained that accepting your stutter can be done in “such a simple way”: to just stutter. Your presentation feels freeing and empowering. I also like how you share the benefits that openly stuttering has for yourself, to move towards acceptance of your stutter, as well as the benefits it has for others around you. Thank you for your video!
    Nicole

  8. Willemijn,

    I loved this video! It was so simple and really showed how you felt and the emotions that you connect to stuttering. Thank you for being vulnerable. You mentioned that the best way to accept your stutter is to just stutter because it teaches others to be patient and show others who stutter that it is okay to stutter. How do you deal with someone who does not have the patience to wait for you to stutter? Have you been able to dismiss these occurrences or do they impact you?

    You also say that your main piece of advice is to “just stutter”. Do you use any other techniques while you are stuttering? Do you disclose your stutter to people when appropriate? Have you gained this knowledge from experience or have you attended therapy? I apologize for all of the questions but as I do not stutter I would like to know (as someone who is also in their 20’s) how this impacts you, who is also in a fairly social state of life.

    • Thank you for your comment. I have some people in my life who are not patient when I stutter, and it does still impact me. However it helps to be more kind to myself.

      Sometimes I like to disclose that I stutter, but sometimes I also think ‘they will figure it out, or can always ask’. I got a bit sick of always disclosing it, haha.
      The realisation came suddenly after my first weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy that started 2 months ago. I go there because my problem is the fear, not the stutter itself.

  9. Hi Willemijn, thank you for your vulnerability in sharing the emotions and feelings you have had with your stutter. I am a speech-language pathology graduate student at Idaho State University right now. We have been discussing the emotional impact that stuttering has had on many individuals, and although each individual is different, it seems as though many people who stutter experience some type of negative self-emotion. You are not alone! How have you learned to cope with these emotions? I really like how you explain by “just stuttering” you are able to teach others the principle of patience, raise awareness, and increase self-awareness. I would agree that this might not always be easy and I would add that through this method of “just stuttering” you are more fully able to embrace who you truly are and increase your confidence in your ability to communicate. Plexico, Manning, & DiLollo (2010) said it best when they suggested that we redirect the focus of communication from being “perfectly fluent” to “effectively communicating”!

    • Thank you for your comment! I deal with negative emotions by putting a positive thought in front of it, if that makes sense.
      Yes that’s very true, and I found out communicating can also be done well without perfect fluency.

  10. Hi Willemijn- Thank you for sharing your voice and your artistic abilities to provide education, awareness, insight, and tips as they apply to stuttering. This simple approach sounds somewhat freeing, although I am sure it takes much practice, patience, and building of confidence. I loved how you said “no apologizing.” How do you feel your interactions with others and their responses to you have changed as you have implemented this? As a speech-language pathology graduate student, I am interested in learning how different approaches work for different people and hear first-hand experiences. Do you use techniques to reduce stuttering in any settings/situations, or have you found acceptance and openly stuttering to be most effective for you in all contexts? In your video, you explained that you have felt a mix of emotions regarding your stutter through the years. One feeling you listed was “love.” What helped you to feel positive emotions about your stutter? Thanks again for sharing!
    -Katie

    • Thank you for your comment! I feel like people react more normal and will accept your stutter if they know you accept your stutter too.
      I don’t use any techniques, mainly because I never had speech therapy so I don’t know any. And I would feel like it would not solve the problem, because I would still be focused on my speech instead of what I am saying when using speech techniques.

      What helped me feel positive emotions towards stuttering was the realisation that I shouldn’t compare myself to people who speak fluently, and that I’m very strong for still doing what fluent people do.

  11. Excellent video to raise awareness about stuttering!
    Thank you!
    Regards from Peru

  12. Willemijn, thank you so much for sharing your story! It sounds like you have come a long way in your relationship to your stutter. I am an Speech Language Pathology graduate student and am always looking for ways that I can be more effective with my client. I was wondering if you had any advice or examples of something you did in therapy that you thought would be beneficial for me to understand? Thank you for your time and for spreading awareness of stuttering.

    • Thank you! I never had speech therapy, only therapy for social anxiety. What helps me is to not see my thoughts as the truth. I can have any thought and still do what I fear.

  13. Hi Willemijn, your Just Stutter video is absolutely a gem. I will watch it many times and share it with PWS, colleagues, and SLP students. When will your next video come out?

    Take great care. Lourdes

    • Thank you so much, that’s awesome! I’m not sure, but when I post the next one it will be on that channel as well. So keep checking it! 🙂

  14. Wow! Your animation is beautiful, you are so talented. I love that you use your creative skills to spread awareness about stuttering because many people relate more to art/creativity than word of mouth and if you are able to spread awareness about a topic through art, I think that is wonderful and will be far-reaching!
    You speak about “just stuttering” and not apologizing or feeling shame that you are a PWS, so in your opinion what is helpful to encourage a PWS to take that step and lean into “just stuttering”?
    -Rachael

    • Thank you very much :). I’d say the first step is realising that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to people who speak fluently. Being ashamed of stuttering is like being ashamed of being blind, it doesn’t make sense. You have this issue and all you can do is try your best to deal with it.

  15. This is an amazing visual! It is such a powerful message of acceptance for both PWS and those who don’t. Thank you for your courage in sharing this. Your message is one that transcends age and gender. Everyone can benefit. Your message is one that I will encourage and will echo in treatment. While I understand that everyone may not share the same perspective, I completely share your same sentiments. It is absolutely okay to just stutter. You don’t owe anyone an apology or an explanation.

    Would you mind sharing your journey? How did you arrive at such a place of acceptance and peace? I’d love to be able to share this information in treatment going forward.

    • Thank you for your comment, I’m glad you share the same sentiment.
      It’s a really long story, haha. I used to hate myself so much for stuttering, and after years it just clicked that the hatred doesn’t help anything, and that it also didn’t make sense. I shouldn’t compare myself to people who speak fluently, I have my own language 🙂

  16. Willemijn,

    Thank you for your wise words and courage in sharing this video at just 20 years old! I love your message about ending your problems and overcoming stuttering with just “letting go and speak freely”. I enjoyed hearing you say how just stuttering will help teach others to listen and be patient, spread awareness, and let people and yourself know its okay to stutter. As a future Speech-Language Pathologist, I will keep this video in mind in my therapy sessions. I think this message is very powerful in helping people who stutter accept their disfluencies. After hearing this video, I am curious as to what age you started to accept your stutter and how this strength came about?

    • Thank you!! My stuttering acceptance fluctuates, I mean when I was a child I thought nothing of my stutter. When I became a teenager I started hiding and hating it, and from 16 years till now I’ve been working on accepting it and being kind to myself. I just needed to be strong because I was fed up with hating myself all the time, basically.

  17. Hi Willemijn!

    I love this approach to stuttering awareness. I love the animation, creativity, and overall message. I would be interested to know more about your journey with stuttering and how you came to this place of acceptance. Do you have any advice on how to get to this place and “just stutter?” I think that would be a powerful tool once it is reached as I imagine it to help build confidence and ease the negative emotions. Thank you again for sharing!

    Alison

    • Thank you! What helps me is seeing stuttering as my own way of speaking, without judging it. If a word takes a bit longer, then ‘ok, that’s fine, people just have to wait a bit more’. I’m just more kind to myself 🙂

  18. Hi Willemijn,

    I really appreciate you sharing your personal journey and the relationship you have with your stutter. I think stuttering is a great way to raise awareness, educate the community, and teach others how to accept their stutter as well. I was wondering if you have ever worked with a speech-language pathologist and what was that experience like? Did he/she influence your positive perspective on stuttering? Also, how did you discover the power of “just stuttering” as a way to spread awareness? What are the reactions of individuals around you when you stutter?

    Thanks again for sharing your video!

    -Shakira

    • Thank you! I’ve never been in therapy for speech actually. What helped me discover ‘just stuttering’ is seeing other people who stutter freely, and how people around them didn’t mind it because it was so normal. That inspired me to do the same.

  19. Hi Willemjin,

    I really loved your approach and the message of your video! It is so important to raise awareness to fight the stigma and negative connotation that is attached to stuttering. Just being yourself is the best thing you can be and I love that you are sharing this message in such a creative way. I imagine it was a journey to reach this level of acceptance and I envy your courage and unapologetic attitude.

  20. Thank you for sharing this inspirational message! This is a very well put and unapologetic. Many times we force ourselves to conform to societal norms instead of making our society conform to us. The more you avoid something, the more it will surround you. I believe that your message will encourage many people in the world including those persons who stutter and those who do not.

  21. I love the way you accept your stutter and own who you are. This video was amazing, and I’m sure it will help others to become more comfortable in their own skin. Regardless of what society deems as “normal”, you are content with being just the way you are. I admire your confidence and hope others will learn to look at stuttering in the same light.