Hi all – many of you know from previous ISAD years that I was extremely covert for many years, almost 30 to be exact. It was an exhausting, “imposter like” experience that I just couldn’t take anymore and I “came out of the covert closet” about 10 years ago. It is an understatement to say it has been so much easier to “just stutter.”
When I entered into therapy for a very short stint from 2006-2008, the graduate student clinicians had a really hard time knowing what to do with me. I didn’t stutter, so they didn’t know what to work on. Since they were mostly being trained in fluency shaping, that’s the approach that was taken with me, until I said, “enough, this is not working, it’s not what I need.” I needed to stutter and after leaving therapy after just close to two years, I basically figured it out on my own, after finding support and regularly interacting with other people who stutter.
Recently, I had an interaction with an individual in a virtual support group where my story of being covert for so long and then transitioning from covert to overt was challenged. A relative newcomer to the virtual group had asked about this “covert stuttering thing.” A couple of people shared what their experience was with being covert and then I shared mine. Well, this guy “called bullshit” and said there was no way I had hid stuttering for so long, that it was impossible and that I was “kidding myself” if I believed that. The room went silent and I was greatly upset, as I felt this new guy had completely diminished my “lived experience.” I took a deep breath, composed myself and responded with something like, “Gee, that felt incredibly disrespectful.” That got his back up even more and he spewed a couple more unsupportive comments.
I felt tears sting and I desperately did not want to cry in front of a full house, including two first timers, so I asked if anyone had anything to add or share in conclusion. No one did and we ended 5 minutes early. After signing off, I’ll admit – I dissolved into tears.
So, why is the “covert experience” so hard to wrap one’s brain around? Even SLPs and SLP students seem very uncomfortable with it and don’t always seem equipped to help.
I am co-presenting at ASHA in Boston on covert stuttering and hope to shed some light for students and maybe even seasoned SLPs on the fact that hiding, to all extremes, is indeed very real.
Any thoughts on this much appreciated and may be helpful for other readers too! 🙂
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