Detained But Not Held Back (Kylah Simmons)

kylahAbout the author:  Kylah (Kylie) Simmons is currently a senior at Kalamazoo College (Kalamazoo, Michigan), studying Psychology with a concentration in Media Studies. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in producing television and digital content, in hopes to spread more stutter awareness through the use of media. Kylie has been stuttering since the age of three and continues to accept her speech impediment. Kylie enjoys taking her mind off of her stutter by practicing yoga daily as well as listening to music.

My personal story pertaining to me being detained in Atlanta not only allowed me to speak up, but it provided me with an opportunity to speak for those who feel voiceless. The impact of my personal experience contained several themes from this year’s ISAD’s conference. My story promoted the awareness of stuttering, the pride of valuing one’s challenges, the demanded respect from those who may misunderstand, the dignity to make a change, and the recognition of those who feel silenced or different.

Detained But Not Held Back

On Thursday, January 2, 2016, as I returned to the U.S. to visit my family from my study abroad program in Costa Rica. When going though customs, I was detained for what felt like an hour within the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport because of my stutter, a speech impediment that I have no control over. When I was pulled aside in customs, one of the first questions asked was relating to if there was something wrong with me. I explained to the officer that I had a speech impediment and that I stuttered. Although I explained my disability, I continued to be questioned. During this moment, I felt intimidated and bullied, as I was bullied growing up because of my stutter. I was questioned about my stutter and constantly called dishonest and a liar. After the event took place, I immediately spoke with the supervisor of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Atlanta. I was given a verbal apology and told that she would speak to the customs staff about proper conduct. I was not asking for anyone to be fired and I was not seeking money. I simply wanted an apology from the staff member involved as well as the customs staff members to be more educated about stuttering awareness for the next time they encounter someone with a disability. Since the incident, I have been featured on a stutter podcast called StutterTalk, as well as other online websites. In addition, I have told my story on SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young as well as for The Huffington Post and other articles. I, along with other supporters, have helped to launch a social media movement in support of my experience. The hashtag #DDDetainedInAtlanta (twitter/Facebook) sparked media attention as well as awareness internationally and nationally. The hashtag not only was used to urge the employees of the airport to be more educated on stuttering awareness, it helped spread stutter awareness. I also gained recognition for partnering with The Stuttering Foundation of America, where we collaborated to create the “I Stutter Card,” a card for stutterers that includes more information about stuttering in order to promote stutter awareness. Currently, I have been in contact with Homeland Security, brainstorming ideas to educate the TSA and U.S. Customs staff members about stuttering. I refuse to let this happen again to anyone else. I believe that everyone has a voice and should received respect, despite the challenges one must face. I want to spread more stutter awareness as well as promote stutter pride, by letting people who stutter know that they have a voice. We deserve to be heard.


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Detained But Not Held Back (Kylah Simmons) — 70 Comments

  1. Hi Kylah, what a remarkable story of courage and determination. The “I Stutter Card” is a brilliant idea! Thank you for raising awareness of stuttering and fostering pride. Warm regards,

    • Thank you Rob! I’m glad that you like the “I Stutter Card!” I carry the card everywhere I go now.

  2. Hi Kylah! I think it is awesome that you took your experience and turned it into an opportunity to educate others and raise awareness of stuttering. I am so happy that so many social media organizations responded and were willing to join the cause too.

    • Thank you! I really believe that social media is a great way to spread stutter awareness and I believe it really helped create a voice for people who stutter!

  3. Hi Kylah!
    I think that this is so inspirational. Not many people will actually go and do something about it, and you did! Sticking up for yourself is an important quality and this will also speak out to others in the stuttering community.

    I am a first year graduate student learning about stuttering and wondering if there was anything that you would like me to know as a future speech-language pathologist. Our NSA group made ID cards for our group members in case they ever come across a experience like you did. I think that it is a really good resource. I just think that people need to be more educated on stuttering. Not only speech-language pathologists, but other professionals in the world.

    • Hi Mariah,

      Thank you for your kind words! I think it’s always a good idea to focus on what someone says and not how they say it. I think that’s one of the most important things to do, especially when speaking to a person who stutters. Thank you as well for utilizing the stutter ID cards. It means a lot!

  4. Hi Kylah!

    What an inspirational story! You have shown that you can take a negative and turn it into a positive! I think it is exceptional that you have been in contact with homeland security discussing ways to educate the workers. Education on stuttering is the key to making situations like this never happen again and people like you are the ones making the difference! I also love the “I stutter” card and think it is such a wonderful idea!

    • Hi Kristin!

      Thank you! I really hope to see more education toward stuttering over the next few years, because it’s sop important!

  5. Kayla,
    This is amazing. I am curious how your insight is being received by homeland security and USA customs? Do you find they are receptive? Were their views out dated?
    I am so impressed that you have taken something so terrible and made it an opportunity to help so many others. I also am impressed that you are not turned to anger and bitterness. You maturity is a lesson to many individuals who are treated poorly because of a difference.


    • Ben,

      Thank you for your response! Currently, homeland security has been very open to hearing ideas on how to promote more stutter awareness for their staff. I really hope that they find an effective way to treat everyone equally during travels. I hope that when others end up in a situation like did, that they turn it into a more positive and impactful experience! I think that’s one of the best ways to truly make a change.

  6. Hi Kylah,

    Your story is so inspirational! I am a speech-language pathology graduate student, and I loved hearing about how you advocated for yourself and for other individuals who stuttered in this situation. This was a very challenging situation, and you handled it with great confidence. I think it is fantastic that you are using this experience to provide awareness about stuttering. As an SLP, do you have any tips for how I could help individuals who stutter advocate for themselves like the way you have been advocating for yourself and individuals who stutter?

    • Hi Melissa,

      Thank you! I think each person who stutters individually has their own ways of dealing with certain situations. For me, before the incident took place, I had to deal with the challenges of accepting my own stutter as well as developing more confidence in myself to proud of who I am. I’m not sure how I would have reacted had I not developed that confidence. To develop my confidence, I joined stutter support groups as well as camps and conferences for people who stutter. I think it’s always best to allow the person who stutters to accept who they are and how they handle certain situations in a way that makes them feel comfortable.

  7. I read your story, and I can’t imagine how scary and frustrating that experience must have been. What would you most like to include in educating custom staff members? What do you feel after this experience would be most beneficial for them to know?

    Thank you!

    • Hello Erin,

      In terms of educating custom staff members, I would encourage staff to think before they act in terms of making assumptions about particular groups of people. There is a lot of discrimination that happens within customs, and the proper training needs to be available to reduce that discrimination. I think a lot of the staff were more aware about stuttering. A lot of times, stuttering is an impediment that overlooked. I think this particular situation gave them an opportunity to really understand what stuttering is about how it impacts certain people. It was an educating moment, I hope!

  8. Kylah,

    I find your story so inspiring! I agree that one of our biggest issues surrounding stuttering is the lack of knowledge and awareness behind it. As a speech language pathology graduate student, it is amazing to see someone take a stand for what is right. What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience and what should we as new clinicians know to best support you and other people who stutter?

    • Hello Amanda,

      Thank you! I am glad that you find my story inspirational. One of my biggest takeaways from this experience was turing a negative experience into a positive impact. I think it also showed other people who stutter that they do have a voice. I think people in general should just have patience with people who stutter. To always remember that what people have to say is just as important as anyone else.

  9. Kylah,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is inspirational that you turned a negative experience into an opportunity where you could spread awareness about stuttering, as well as help others who are persons who stutter. As a graduate student in speech-language pathology, I am very interested in how I can spread awareness of stuttering. What do you believe is the most beneficial way of spreading awareness? Where do you see, or would like to see, the future of stuttering awareness going in the future?

    Thank you again for your brave story!

    • Hello Audra,

      Thank you! I think one of the most beneficial ways to spread stutter awareness is to partner with a person who stutters and have them share their personal experiences. In addition, educating those who may not have a lot of knowledge about stuttering is a good idea as well. I would love to see more “authority” figures be more educated, such as police officers, customs and tsa staff, teachers, etc. It’s so important to be able to accommodate different types of people, especially when you are in a position of power.

  10. Kylah,
    I am a graduate speech language pathology student and enjoyed reading your story. It frustrates me that you were treated that way, but I loved hearing that you turned this experience into a positive one and promoted awareness to others through the “I Stutter Card.” I know you had stated you contacted Homeland Security and I was wondering if you had any response from them about the “I Stutter Card.” Also, what is the typical reaction you receive when you show others the “I Stutter Card?”

    • Hello Rachael,

      Thanks! Pertaining to a response from Homeland Security, I have yet to receive an official response about the “I Stutter Card.” When I show the card, many people like it and they think it’s a good idea! I always have people asking me where they can get them!

      • I loved the card! I downloaded the PDF and plan to keep it in my future therapy materials. Thank you for sharing your story and for creating that card!

  11. Kylah,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t even imagine how incredibly frustrated you must have felt. The stuttering awareness card is a brilliant idea because the knowledge that many people have about PWS is very limited. Have you since had, or know of anyone else who has had difficult with customs or TSA for similar reasons?

    Thanks again for sharing!

    • Hello Hewibrit,

      Thank you, I am glad that you think the card is a good idea! I agree that more people need to know about the condition of stuttering. I feel like it’s so misunderstood. When the incident happened, I actually received a lot of similar stories, which really surprised me. I found out that I wasn’t alone and that this happens to so many people, which is a little disappointing.

  12. Kylah,

    You have such a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it. I am a first year SLP graduate student, and I find insight into the lives of those who stutter to be very interesting. Have you ever had any other experiences similar to the one you are describing in this post?

    The “I Stutter” card is such a wonderful idea. I love that it explains what stuttering is, gives examples of the different types of disfluency, and that it informs the reader that stress can be a trigger. It gives instant knowledge without putting the PWS on the spot. Have you had other PWS talk about their opinions on the “I Stutter” card?

    Thanks again for sharing your story!


    • Katy,

      Thank you! This is actually one of the first experiences that I have had with my stutter. From time to time, I face negative reactions toward my stutter, but this was one of the most negative responses that I have received. There are many different opinions toward the card by many PWS. Some people agree, while others disagree. I think some people may use it in a particular way that makes them feel comfortable way. Others way not, and that’s okay! I think PWS should face their challenges of stuttering in a way that makes them feel comfortable.

  13. I think your story is great and I am very impressed with how mature you were with dealing with Customs. How were you thinking of informing Customs and TSA about stuttering? I saw that you had a concentration in Media Studies so might you try to do a video/documentary?

    Thank you!

    • Knjaeg,

      Thank you, I’m glad you liked my story! I would really love Customs and TSA to partner with stutter organizations when it comes to training. In addition, it would be nice to have the training to be done by an actual person who stutters. I have always wanted to use media, such as a documentary, as a way to promote stutter awareness!

  14. Thank you for sharing your experience! I am a speech language pathology graduate student just starting to work with my first fluency clients. I’m wondering if you have anything you would like to share that might have been helpful to know as a grade school student learning the skills of self advocacy and communicating with a communication disorder.
    Thank you for sharing your experience! I really love your attitude and I hope it’s something I can encourage in my career.

    • Tali,

      I think using people who stutter to help promote stutter awareness is always a good idea, especially when they share their personal experiences and advice for people who may not know a lot about stuttering. Thanks!

  15. Hi! I am a SLP graduate student and am currently taking a class focused on stuttering. This story shows incredible strength and persistence. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to remain calm in such a stressful situation. I have a question for you about how you felt during the time you were detained. Did your stutter get worse when you were being questioned? How does stress affect your fluency?

    • Abbileitnaker,

      Thank you! While getting questioned, my stutter actually got more worse. In the past, stressful situations always increased my stuttering. I find that when I am more confident in myself, my fluency increases!

  16. Hi Kylah,
    I love that you are devoted to expanding the awareness of stuttering. It very inspirational. How did you reach that point in your life where you accepted the fact that you stutter? Also, once you accepted it, did it improve your fluency?

    • Nerlineknowit,

      I am glad that you think my stutter awareness is inspirational! While in high school, I started to join more stutter organizations (Ex. National Stuttering Association and SAY: Stuttering Organization for the Young), which allowed me to meet other people who stuttered. In a way, it made me feel like I was not alone, which gave me more confidence. In addition, I shared my personal experiences through motivational speeches. One I accepted my stutter (and I am still in the process of doing so), I got more confidence. Confidence in myself helped with my fluency, because I experience less stress. It’s a process, and it could take years for some people. It look me a few years to be in a place where I am now.

  17. Hi Kylah,

    I loved reading your story! It is awesome and inspirational how you turned such a negative experience into something positive that will help so many people. I am a graduate speech pathology student, and I am currently working with several elementary school aged clients who stutter. I know they will enjoy hearing your story and plan to read it to them during their sessions!

    You mentioned that you were bullied growing up because of your stutter. Do you have any suggestions on how I can help children I work with cope with and overcome bullying they may encounter because of their stutter?

    Thank you,


  18. Hi Kylah,

    Your story is truly inspiring and frustrating at the same time. It is hard to believe people could be so ignorant sometimes. Although, I love what you are doing with your experience as a stutterer.

    What other avenues are you trying to get the I Stutter Card involved? Any other places, companies, etc.?

    Thanks, Emaly Cox

  19. Hi Kylah,
    Wow, I am so sorry you had to go through that experience! How awful that these individuals at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection would have the audacity to suspect you as being suspicious in anyway. I am a graduate student studying Speech-Language Pathology, and I am currently taking a class in stuttering. We had an assignment where we were told to pseudo-stutter in public. During this experience, I could tell that my stutter did catch the individual I was speaking to off guard. As a future professional who is educated in stuttering, I personally understand stuttering, but many everyday individuals just are unaware of stuttering, and in result, may act rudely due to unfamiliarity with stuttering. I think that some people are not comfortable with differences, with stuttering being a difference that is not visible, so when it is heard, it could catch people off guard. Would you agree with this as a person who stutters? I am wondering what your thoughts are. Also, as a person who stutters, what do you think is the best way to spread stuttering awareness, especially in professional training? Furthermore, what are your thoughts about how stuttering is typically portrayed in media and how it might have affected the fact that the employees in Customs thought you were suspicious due to your stutter? Thank you for sharing your story!

  20. Hi Kylie,

    I am a SLP graduate student in my first fluency class. Thank you for sharing your story. When you mentioned that you felt bullied, similar to how you felt as a child, it brought to mind a new elementary age student who has been placed on my caseload whose stutter has became significantly more severe. Other children in his class are beginning to tease him. What suggestions do you have for me as I begin to work with him in facing this adversity?

    Thanks – and you go girl!

  21. While reading about your experience at the airport, the way that you were able to turn this negative experience into a mission to help individuals like you is amazing and encouraging. Many people would tend to think of this only as a negative event but you turned it into something to help not only the local individuals involved in the situation but to work with others, such as Homeland security, and those all over the world by creating awareness, providing education, and providing such a simple card. As future SLPs it’s important that we provide education and advocacy to the PWS and their family, as well as creating awareness and providing education to the public and make sure that we do our best to try and minimize things like this happening in the future. There is a one question, as a PWS, what’s the biggest thing you would like for others to know about stuttering? Thank you for sharing your story and using it to help others.
    – Brooke M., Michelle M., & Sarah N.

  22. What a powerful story! I can’t imagine what that was like to deal with. As you have worked with TSA and Homeland Security what other ideas have you come up with to promote awareness, education, and prevent this from happening in the future? Keep up the good work

  23. Hey Kylie,

    Wow! I am so sorry to hear that happened to you. I know if it were me, I probably would have cried, peed my pants, or some combination of the two. Of course, you always want security to do their job and investigate people whom they find to be suspicious, but that should never include suspicion just because someone has disfluent or stuttered speech; and it definitely should not include harsh intimidation! I think that tendency stems a lot from our human nature to fear what we do not understand. Would you agree?

    I remember being very young and sometimes being a little nervous around people in wheelchairs, mostly because it was new and different for me at such a young age, and maybe sometimes because I didn’t understand why each individual was in his or her chair. I’m ashamed to admit having those feelings now that I’m older, but could my parents really blame me for being scared of something new, different, and not yet understood? I don’t think so. It was only after having more (positive) experiences with people requiring wheelchairs that I began to realize my initial anxiety was completely unwarranted. Apart from this experience, have you had any other experiences in which you felt people were nervous or uneasy around you simply because of your speech? If so, how did you reassure them? Or did you reassure them? I think many might argue it’s not really your responsibility to reassure someone in that type of situation- that if your speech makes him/her uneasy, then it’s his/her own fault. As a person who stutters, what are your thoughts?

    Thank you,


  24. Ms. Simmons,

    I am a graduate student in speech-language pathology. I wanted to thank you for sharing your story, and especially for creating the “I Stutter Card.” I have saved it with my other professional materials and will offer it to my clients who stutter! Do you find that showing the card to unfamiliar communication partners takes some of the pressure off of your conversation? In what other instances or situations have you found it helpful?
    – Anna Weisbrod

  25. Hi Kylah,

    Thank you for speaking up! Your story is a perfect example of how a single person CAN make a difference. I applaud you on taking the opportunity to advocate for yourself and others who stutter in such a mature and impactful way. What has helped you most in getting to the point you are now with self-confidence and self-advocacy?
    I love the idea of the “I Stutter Card.” I recently worked with an adult who stuttered and was thinking about how a tool like this would be very useful in potentially stressful circumstances like getting pulled over, trying to communicate in a crowded/noisy place or time-sensitive situations, etc.
    I know I will remember your story in situations where I can educate others about stuttering. Keep being bold 🙂


  26. Hey Kylie!

    Your story is so shocking but unfortunately I’ve heard about this happening so many times to people who stutter in airports. I think bringing awareness is something that everyone can do because those without firsthand experience don’t tend to understand what challenges are posed for those who stutter. The “I Stutter Card” is an amazing idea! It’s such a simple way to educate others without the frustration of explaining it under a high pressure situation. Your advocacy is inspiring and something I, as a future speech therapist, will always remember!

  27. Hi Kylie!

    Thank you so much for sharing this experience. Although what you went through was unfortunate, it is incredible that you were able to use your experience to promote awareness and use it as fuel toward the creation of the “I Stutter Card.” It is also wonderful that you have received so much support via your social media movement. You should be very proud of what you have accomplished and with the fact that you are spreading awareness to help others who stutter.


  28. Hi Kylie,
    I loved your story, and think it is great that you turned a negative experience into something positive. Not many would handle this situation well, and you handled it with such grace. Lack of education about stuttering is a problem, which leads to many misconceptions of what stuttering is, and secondary behaviors that accompany it. I thought the “I Stutter Card” was a great idea, and it will certainly help others understand stuttering. It can be effective when faced with a stressful situation like speaking in a store or restaurant. Thanks for sharing!


  29. Hi Kylie,

    I’m so sorry you had to experience that! I know I wouldn’t have been as professional about the situation as you were. I probably would have yelled at Customs, which would only make the situation worse. I think its awesome how you’re raising awareness for something that many people know little about. I am currently taking a fluency class in my Post-Baccalaureate SLP program. I’ve learned that stuttering has both genetic and environmental factors. Going off of this fact, I was wondering if anyone else in your family stutters. Also, in what situations do you find your stutter to be at its worse?

    Thank you for sharing your story!


  30. Hi Kylah!

    Thank you for sharing your story! I really admire your motivation and efforts to create awareness. I am sorry to hear about your experience, however I am inspired by your determination to promote change. I am currently an SLP graduate student enrolled in a fluency course and I have learned so much taking this course. As a future speech-language pathologist I was interested in learning about what helped you become so accepting of your stutter and how can I encourage that when working with clients? Also, do you notice that the “I Stutter Cards” have a more positive effect on your communication experiences? If so, how?
    Thanks again for sharing your experience!


  31. Kylah,
    I love the idea of the “I Stutter Card.” I have seen someone who is deaf use something similar. I think it gives the other person the opportunity to open their mind before automatically judging someone when they don’t understand how the person is communicating. I’m curious if you’ve used the card yourself and the responses you’re receiving from it.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Kayla J

  32. Hi Kylah,
    Thank you for sharing your experience. Although it was very unfortunate what you went through, you have changed this event into an educational experience. It was great that you took the initiative to call homeland security to promote stuttering awareness. I also really like the “I Stutter Card.” What a great idea!
    Thank you again for sharing your story.

  33. Hi Kylah,

    I’m sorry you had to experience that and I agree that people should be more educated about common speech impediments. I also love the idea of the “I Stutter Card” and I am glad you found a solution to help people get informed.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!!


  34. Hi Kylah
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience and how you have taken upon yourself to advocate for PWS.

    Christopher from Cameroon

  35. Hi Kylah,

    First, I want to thank you for sharing your story but most importantly, I want to acknowledge your bravery to stand up for yourself in such a frustrating and unfortunate situation. Also, your dedication to raising awareness and bringing education to the masses is very encouraging. As a future SLP, how would you encourage me to better inform the masses on stuttering and PWS? I, too, want to help more people realize and better understand the topic at hand so that an incident like yours never happens again.

    Thank you,

  36. Hi Kylah,
    I am sorry to hear about your incident. I think it is great that you are taking a negative situation and turning it into a learning experience for others. I think it is fantastic that you started a social media movement to help spread awareness. I agree that there needs to be more stuttering awareness and knowledge about stuttering. I hope with more education and awareness about stuttering that these types of incidents won’t happen again. I understand that there are certain situations where one’s stuttering may increase or decrease. Did your stutter become more severe when trying to explain your stuttering to the employees in customs?


  37. Hello Kylah,

    First off, thank you so much for sharing your story. It was so insightful and inspiring to read. I think it is great that you were able to take a negative experience in your life and try to decrease the likelihood of others encountering the same experience. It is inspiring to read about how much of an advocator you are for not only yourself, but for others as well. I think it is great that you have been able to work with Homeland Security to educate their staff. I think most of the issues arise due to the lack of education and awareness on stuttering. The education you are providing them is a key component to spread awareness. This will hopefully eliminate future situations similar to yours and make individual’s traveling much easier and stress-free. I also really love the idea of your “I Stutter Card”. I think this is an excellent resource that will help eliminate many difficult situations. When you are educating Homeland Security, what aspects do you include? Do you feel that they are actively taking steps to educate their TSA and Customs staff? What is the biggest thing you would like for them to know?

    Thank you,
    Stephanie A.

  38. Hi Kylah,

    Thank you for sharing this. Your story shows how important it is for people to be educated about stuttering. I cannot imagine how you must have felt being called a liar because of your stutter, but your response was so inspiring. It is so great that you were able to turn such a hard experience into a positive opportunity to raise stuttering awareness. Your involvement is probably helping so many people and I love that you are encouraging other people who stutter to stand up for themselves!

    Thank you,

  39. Hi Kylah,

    You are truly brave! Thank you so much for speaking up and sharing your experience. I can’t believe an officer would treat someone like that. I am currently a graduate student working towards my master’s as an SLP. In my fluency class we have talked about people losing credibility just because they stutter. You had also mentioned this, and the fact that many in our society do this is very sad. I don’t quite understand why anyone would give less credibility to someone who stutters, or view them as dishonest, just because of how they talk. I think educating more people is key, and it sounds like you are doing a great job of this! I also really liked your idea of the “I Sutter Card” and will keep it in mind when I have clients who stutter. Lastly, you referred to your stuttering once as a disability, and also as a disorder. Do you view your stutter as both? Also, do you know others who stutter who use different vocabulary to label their stutter?

    Thanks again for your post!

  40. Hi Kylie!

    I’m absolutely amazed that you experienced this kind of discrimination in the year 2016. That being said, I love that you responded with educating others and I think that social media is the perfect outlet for doing so. I am a first year speech-language pathology graduate student and I know that our generation pays attention to social media, and often gets their news through this outlet. You can reach so many future leaders and professionals this way. I hope that will lead to some major changes in our society’s attitude towards communication disorders in general.

  41. Hi Kylah!
    My name is Scarlett and I am a Communication Sciences and Disorders undergrad student, hoping to become an SLP. I really enjoyed reading your story and hearing about your experience. I was wondering…have you had any similar experiences with any other type of law enforcement or organizations or was this the only incident?
    Thank you,
    Scarlett Bullard

  42. Hi Kylie,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. The ignorance of this communication disorder continues to astound me. Your dedication and passion for spreading awareness of stuttering is incredible! I think that your modern use of social media can help young people who stutter feel more pride, and it can also help increase awareness and acceptance for young people who do not stutter. Way to go!


  43. Hi Kylah,

    Reading your story made me feel outrage, anger, and empathy. I was dismayed by the lack of respect showed to you by representatives of your own country. You showed so much strength, resilience, and intelligence. I realise not many people know about stuttering. As a first year graduate student in Speech-Language Pathology I am only now being exposed to it on any meaningful level. You took a horrible situation and made something good come from it. How ingenious to create the “I stutter” card.
    I am sorry you had to endure that, but now you are in a role to educate and inspire. Thank you for that.

  44. Hi Kylah,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. The work you are doing to raise awareness for stuttering is admirable. I especially like the idea of the “I Stutter Card.” This is a creative way to not only promote pride in a person who stutters, but to also show others that stuttering is not something to be ashamed of.

    Thanks again for taking the time to share your story.

  45. Thanks for sharing your story! I am currently in grad school for Speech-Language Pathology and am taking a course in fluency. I think it’s amazing how strong you are to take such a positive stance on that situation with customs, and how you want to make a difference for people in the future that may experience the same thing you did. Have you ever received therapy for your stutter, and if so did you find it to be useful?

  46. Hi Kylah,
    I am Vishal from India. I am also person who stutter. What a great initiative !! I like your I stutter card idea. I like to do the same stutter card in Indian language.
    Warm wishes,
    Vishal Yewale.

  47. Wow, thank you for sharing your experience with stuttering! I was surprised to read about how poorly you were treated at the airport, but it made me realize that people who stutter experience discrimination every day. I think it is really important we raise more awareness about stuttering, and I really liked your “I Stutter Card”. I also really liked how you said that everyone has a voice and should receive respect. Do you have any tips for how I can help raise stuttering awareness in my community?
    Thanks, Rachel

  48. Hey Kylie!

    I couldn’t believe what I was reading as I went through your story! That’s crazy! I loved your idea of having a stuttering card to pull out at any moment when problems like this arise. I mean, why not have that be more universal? People with aphasia have these cards to assist them, why not PWS? Have you ever experienced any problems similar to this? Being questioned, or other discriminatory actions against you or other people who stutter? What sort of tips might you give someone who stutters, that runs into a similar situation that you found yourself in?

    Thanks, and best wishes!


  49. Hi Kylah,

    It is unfortunate that you experienced the above discrimination due to your speech impediment, but I am impressed by how you turned a negative experience around to positively impact others who stutter. The stutter card is a wonderful idea and resource. It will be exciting to see what changes are made in the procedures and training for border officials due to your advocacy. Thank you for the work you are doing.

  50. Hi Kylah,
    This is such an inspiring story of advocacy! It was a very challenging situation, and it is not always easy to speak up in public. However, you took this opportunity to stand up for yourself and for other individuals who stutter. The “I stutter card” is an amazing way to take pride and raise awareness around the community.

    I’m currently a speech pathology grad student and I think it is a great reminder to
    be aware of this message! Currently, I have a preschool client who stutters, do you suggest any advice I can give to my client or her parents? Having that you grew up stuttering, what are advices you wish you and your family had or would love to have had when you were younger?