Educating Fluent Speakers

Hello, my name is Mary and I am currently enrolled in an SLP undergraduate program. I really appreciate all of your time and value everything I have learned from this website. Often times when people are faced with diversity, they are unsure of how to handle themselves. My question is what would you want a person who does not know how to act around someone who stutters to know?

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Educating Fluent Speakers — 1 Comment

  1. Dear Mary, this is such a mature and empathetic question! Thank you so much for asking this. I have to tell you, on a personal level, Mary is my great grandmothers name (whom is still living), my mother’s name and my seven year old’s name. So, I first had to comment on your name! 🙂 Ok, now I can answer your question.
    To answer your question, I always tell my graduate students- the person in front of you that stutters is a human being, always remember that. Act like this person is a a human like anyone else. How do you like to be treated during a conversation- with a friend, a parent, a family member, a professional… what kind of expectations do you have from the other person listening to you speak? First, we must always LISTEN. Society still doesn’t always listen to people who stutter, sadly. We must actively listen. You may be the first person to listen and hear fully what this beautiful individual has to say. Second, you must allow for the person who stutters to say what they want to say. If the person is an adult (or child over the age of 6 or 7) ask how that person feels about being interrupted- I personally don’t mind it with most people (as I am also a PWS) but every so often I do, and with certain people- and if you were my SLP I would need the opportunity to explain that to you in the therapy room. Some people who stutter really don’t like being interrupted and have very strong feelings about this topic- think about yourself as a communicator- do you like being interrupted when trying to speak? how does that make you feel? 🙂 Third, use active communicator strategies while communicating with a person who stutters that this person will appreciate, just like any other human being would appreciate. My favorite strategies to teach my student is to use the lead phrase, “what I hear you saying is…” When you yourself are having a conversation with a close friend, and your friend paraphrases what you said by saying, “what I hear you saying is….” and nicely paraphrases what you said to them, doesn’t this make you feel good? You feel listened to, validated, and like you matter to that person. The same goes when communicating with a person who stutters. What makes you feel good while communicating, stands a good chance to make this person feel good while communicating too. Let’s say a person who stutters comes into your therapy room, and tells you a story of their day when they tried to get gas and the gas station clerk was in such a hurry and not only interrupted when this person tried to explain that the gas pump wasn’t working through a stuttering moment (let’s say a block) but there was a line of other customers behind your individual waiting that started to become inpatient, the clerk also became inpatient, and waved your beloved person away, telling him to leave the business establishment because he was taking too long for the line of people waiting. Your individual in the therapy room is sad, frustrated, angry, and expressing this heart-felt and devastating in the moment story to you as his clinician. You use active listening skills, and active communicating skills to allow your individual to finish the story in entirety. You then state, “Wow, I am beside myself that this happened to you today- what I hear you saying about this experience is….” and you continue on to paraphrase what your individual told you about this experience. Your individual just felt heard, listened to, and may have got a little relief from the experience being about to vent to a safe space with you, his clinician about it. You then may further the activity by coming up with ways to educate society about stuttering together so that gas station clerks like that one don’t do that again, and see to it that business establishment is notified- or something like that.. turn it into a positive. See where I’m going? I hope that this helps answer your questions and gives you some therapeutic application ideas for the future. Now that you know some about communicating skills with not only people who stutter but how general communication skills can be applied when communicating with people who stutter- educate the world! Be an advocate for people who stutter, because society still needs to do better and know more- although, society is starting to do better and learn more, one person at a time. Be well!

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