Please don’t make fun of them! The awareness solution (Elizabeth De Nardo)

denardoAbout the author: Elizabeth De Nardo, PhD.  She holds a PhD in General Microbiology with expertise in Virology and Biological Control Agents.She works as a Senior Scientist at a private company that sells hand hygiene products. Her main responsibilities as a technical liaison are to interface with numerous key internal and external customers, giving technical support about the science behind the products.

She has been involved with Stuttering for many years since her brother and son stutter. She has participated in the stutter support group led by the University of Akron, Ohio. Her son is graduating by the end of this year with a PhD in speech pathology :”stuttering area”

She believes that talking about stuttering increases awareness in the community reducing “the stutter  stereotype.

As a niece, cousin, sister, and mother of people who stutter, I am familiar with the struggles, disappointments, hardships, and disrespect that this communication disorder brings in their lives. I believe that society’s lack of awareness about stuttering is the main cause for the disrespect showed for people who stutter. Here, I describe pieces of my journey as a mother of a son who stutters, moving from a society where stuttering was never discussed and only part of jokes, to a society that emphasizes awareness, provides support, and “almost” doesn’t tolerate acts of bullying related to this disorder.

Having lived in Brazil for more than 40 years before moving to the U.S, I grew up listening to many jokes about stuttering: seeing people imitate stutters on TV shows and comics and use this as a form of entertainment just to make others laugh. People get used to these jokes and situations and this initially seems fine, unless you have someone who stutters who is close to you. I was not aware of any public awareness campaign about stuttering. The subject was never discussed and I personally didn’t know what to do with the discomfort brought on by such situations.

When moving to the U.S. in 1998, my son who stutters was 11 years old and we started searching for a speech therapist in the community to continue the treatment he had started in Brazil since he was 5 years old. From that time, I learned that things here were a little different. We found that there are many organizations involved with stuttering, working towards prevention and improved treatments. There are free resources, services, and support for people who stutter and their families. In addition, plenty of material in the form of pamphlets, posters, T-shirts, and books are available that not only bring public awareness about stuttering, but also help families and those who stutter to have a better understanding about this disorder and how to deal with associated issues of self-esteem.  My son and I were part of a monthly support group at the University of Akron for several years, where we had the opportunity to meet other teenagers who also stuttered, as well as parents like me who were looking for support.

Looking back, our family was very fortunate to move to a small and friendly town in Ohio. When school started on August 1998, I went to the elementary school to meet all of my son’s 6th grade teachers and made them aware of my son’s communication disorder. I also asked them to follow the speech therapist’s recommendations: to treat him as a normal person, to allow him to participate in class discussions, to ask him questions, and to never give him any advantage because of his speech disorder. I told them to listen to him, to be patient, and to never finish a word he could not speak.

The school faculty were very nice and they talked to other students about stuttering, bringing awareness and respect to the children who stutter. Throughout his schooling, from 6th grade to high school, my son never complaint about any bullying or jokes about him. He was the only kid who stuttered in the whole school and, to our knowledge, the only one in the community as well. In fact, being the only one was not good for my son’s self-esteem and I heard him complain many times about being the only teenager he knew with a speech disorder. The support group helped him meet other teenagers who stuttered and helped him realize that he was not alone. My son was highly involved in several sports in school and in the community and he gained respect from his peers due to his sports skills, especially as a soccer player. He made many friends that supported him during his teenage years.

By influence of his speech therapist, he went on to college to study communication disorders and embraced speech pathology as his career. His stuttering had highs and lows but improved a lot during his college years. However, he had both positive and negative experiences related to his problem and people’s lack of awareness. For example, one night while having fun with his girlfriend and a group of friends in a popular bar, he was escorted outside of the bar by security he was not allowed to re-enter because the bartender though he was too intoxicated to properly order a beverage. When in fact, he was simply stuttering when he asked for another drink.  He and all his friends were very upset and left the bar complaining about the situation.  Later that week, he received a letter from the bar owner apologizing for the incident.

Additionally, I recently had experienced situations related to people’s lack of awareness to stuttering. The first situation happened during a theater play, where an actor imitated a stutter and several people laughed. I was both surprised and disappointed. I could not believe that well-educated people would think that such a thing was appropriate. Another situation happened a few weeks ago when I received a joke through a group message thread I that I am a part of with some Brazilian friends. The joke is originally from Brazil, but was sent to the group by a friend who had lived there for several years. Although I could see the humor in the joke, I still realized that its humor was at the expense of people who stutter. I did not respond to my friend’s message and instead decided to work towards creating awareness about stuttering. These two recent situations prompted me to write this text.

I believe that only through awareness about stuttering can we break these jokes and perceptions that hurt others’ feelings and perpetuate disrespect for people who stutter.

As a niece, cousin, sister, and mother of people who stutter, I believe that I can make a difference by talking about stuttering and bringing awareness to my friends and to all people that still don’t know that such jokes perpetuate stereotypes and disrespect.

As a niece, cousin, sister, and mother of people who stutter, I am proud of all of them. All people who stutter deserve respect, dignity, and recognition from all of us!

 5,589 total views,  1 views today


Please don’t make fun of them! The awareness solution (Elizabeth De Nardo) — 60 Comments

  1. Elisabeth, tudo bem?
    I’d like to congratulate you for your beautiful and inspiring story. I identified myself much with you. I am a speech therapist, wife of a person who stutter and mother of three children who stutter. In 1999 along with other PWS we founded here in Brazil the Brasilian Stuttering Association (ABRAGAGUEIRA) and made the first site on the subject here in our country. A few years later we started a national awareness campaign with the theme “Stuttering is not funny. It has treatment”(GAGUEIRA NÃO TEM GRAÇA. TEM TRATAMENTO) and today we have actions in various parts of our country. Last year I published here in this conference a project called Fluency Workshop that brings together children, teenagers, families and school in a comprehensive work involving fluency and empowerment. Anyway … I want to share with you some of my journey and my beliefs because I think we have a lot in common. If you want to know a little of my work please visit
    Um grande abraço
    Daniela Veronica Zackiewicz

    • Hi Daniela! Thanks for reading my paper and updated me on the Brazilian situation about stuttering. I left Brazil in 1998 and although I am going there annually I lost all my “stuttering contacts”. I am happy to see new activities in Brazil related to Stuttering. Congratulations! I enjoyed your website. I will tell my son to, one of the experts in this conference to contact you to better understand your approach. Thanks and keep up the good job!Elizabeth

  2. Hi Elizabeth. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. It’s wonderful that you are committed to spread awareness about stuttering and to educate others. You are saving lives. Really.

    • Thanks Hanna for reading my paper. You are right we are saving lives. Are you involved in any activity too? Thanks and regards.

  3. Hello Elizabeth,

    Thank you for sharing your touching and inspiring experience! I have to admit, before entering the SLP profession, I had little knowledge about stuttering. I remember interacting with a person who stutter while in high school and I did all the wrong things! I avoided eye contact due to me thinking that I was making him nervous and that not making eye contact would help decrease his stutter. I also would try to help finish his sentences, again thinking I was helping. However, now I know that I was not helping at all!! Lack of awareness is an issue! I loved that you fully disclosed to the school that your son stuttered and you educated the staff there about what to do and what not to do. You are a great example of educating and spreading awareness. Even though it was a small school and community, because you educated the staff it started a ripple effect for awareness. The staff then educated the students attending the school which in turn the students might have educated their own families which in turn those families can educate and bring awareness to those outside of your community and so on and so forth! Like I stated before, lack of awareness is an issue in our world today and like you, I feel that as we educate and bring awareness to stuttering, the disrespect and stereotypes will start to diminish. Thanks again for sharing your experiences!

    • Thanks for reading my paper and shared your thoughts. I completely agree with you. Educating people about stuttering makes a huge difference. The use of social media can we help a lot regarding educatiing the society specially young people. The National Stuttering Association is currently using Facebook to deliver awareness messages about Stuttering and love and share them with my Facebook friends. Thanks

  4. Hi Elizabeth!
    As a future Speech-Language Pathologist, I loved your view on increasing awareness regarding stuttering. This difference that this increase in awareness can make was shown in your son’s experience. In an environment where people were educated, your son did not experience bullying or discrimination. However, in environments where people are not educated this was a common experience. I think your statement about how societies lack of awareness is the main cause for the disrespect showed towards people who stutter says it all. It is something that I definitely will keep in mind as a future professional.

    • Thanks for reading my paper. As a future Speech Pathologist you have countless opportunities in bringing awareness and educate the society. Keep up with this good spirit and good luck in your future carrier.

  5. Hi Elizabeth,

    I also believe we have so much to gain if we raise awareness and educate the public on stuttering. What methods have you personally found to be successful in educating people about stuttering? I am a graduate student in speech-language pathology and I have to admit (like one of the other readers) that I also have had a limited exposure to stuttering until now– I would love to know what has worked for you when you talk to people who do not know much about stuttering. I personally think the depiction of stuttering in the media plays a huge role in the negative connotations associated with the communication disorder, but I thoroughly believe that every discussion we have is a kernel of knowledge that can shift society’s perspective on stuttering.

    • Thanks Alexandra for reading my paper and sharing your thoughts. When leaving in Brazil I did not talk so much about stuttering. Everybody knew about my relatives stuttering problem but it was rarely discussed, even in family. At least not in front of me. It was like someone to have a disability that people feel ashamed to discuss, feel sorry about the person. When my son started stuttering at age around 5 we discussed with close relatives. My husband and I starting looking for a speech pathologist immediately. I think educating ourselves about stuttering helped us a lot. With knowledge we could talk to other people and educating them too about the disorder. I our case I believe having a sincere disclosure with friends and educators was the best option. It is a kind of relief for everybody when we freely talk about the problem, because others also feel free to talk with us and support us. We also participate in Stuttering Support group that I believe helped not only my son but specially we as parents. Thanks again

  6. Hi Elizabeth!

    As a first year graduate student in a speech language pathology program, I really enjoyed your article. Currently, I am in a stuttering/fluency course and we are learning all kinds of new things and doing various activities. I think you are spot on in your article by stating that a huge step in diminishing the “stuttering joke” is that we need to make people aware. It is obvious that those who are already SLPs and those who are going to be future SLPs have already been made aware but there is so much more that can be done. What do you think are the initial steps or breakthroughs that we can do to make society more aware of the impact of stuttering and to stop treating it as a joke or something bad (that ultimately lowers self esteem in individuals)? Thanks again for sharing your story – very inspiring!

  7. Hello! I am currently in my last year studying to become a speech-language pathologist, and I really enjoyed reading your post. I am enrolled in a fluency course now as well, and we are learning more and more about ways to assist and advocate for people/children who stutter. As someone with first hand experience, what are some ways you think I can help raise awareness of stuttering, even if only in my community? You mentioned you noted more awareness here in the US, but what are some things you believe will mark the biggest strides in raising awareness? Thank you!

  8. Dr. De Nardo,

    Thank you for sharing your experience and your son’s experience about stuttering; I enjoyed reading your perspective on raising awareness for stuttering! I am currently a second year graduate student pursuing my goal of Speech-Language Pathology. In my SLP program, we are learning about effective treatment approaches for stuttering. In your article, you mentioned that therapy and the perspective on individuals who stutter were quite different in the U.S. Specifically, how was treatment different in the U.S. as compared to Brazil? Thank you for your response!

  9. Dr. De Nardo,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I’m currently in my second year of graduate school studying to become an SLP. Until recently, I had never met someone who stuttered and knew very little about the communication disorder. I was extremely blessed to participate in the Northwest Center for Fluency Disorders Interprofessional Intensive Stuttering Clinic. As part of our training for the clinic, we spent a day pseudo stuttering out in the community. That experience alone showed me the importance of raising awareness for stuttering. I was shocked at how people responded to stuttering and the stories I heard from participants in our clinic about being bullied and people telling them ways to fix their stuttering (people who had no idea what they were talking about!) We talked a lot in the clinic about advocacy for people who stutter and for the clients to self-advocate for themselves. I particularly love the story you wrote about going to your son’s elementary school and advocating for your son about how to treat him and how the faculty was willing to help bring awareness by talking to the other students and being open about his stuttering. Thank you for sharing you and your son’s story and experiences with stuttering.

  10. Hello Elizabeth,
    Thank you for sharing your story and for advocating for education in the general public in order to bring awareness and understanding about people who stutter. You mention that when you moved to Ohio you found support groups. How do you recommend finding support groups?

  11. Hi Dr. De Nardo,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. As a graduate student in the field of speech-language pathology, I have found that a common theme across all of my classes is how important educating the client, parents, teachers, peers, etc. on communication disorders really is. Knowledge is power! I appreciate your dedication to educating others and advocating for your son by being a part of support groups and making his teachers aware of his communication disorder.

    As a budding clinician, I was wondering what made your experience, as a parent, a positive one when working with speech-language pathologists with your son? Also, do you have any advice or ideas on how we, as supporters of PWS, can facilitate and create awareness about stuttering in our communities?

    I am also interested in reading about the differences you noticed between the perspectives and treatment approaches for PWS between the U.S. and Brazil, as user poolel noted. I will be sure to check back for your response!

  12. Dr. De Nardo,

    Thank you for sharing your son’s story! Despite the horrible experience at the bar in college, it sounds like he was fortunate enough to receive a lot of support from his classmates and teachers growing up. I have heard horror stories about children who stutter being bullied, but like your son, my only fluency client has had nothing but support from his friends and peers. As a second year graduate student and future SLP, I want to do everything I can to spread awareness and truly advocate for my fluency clients.

    I am curious about your son- is he bilingual? When he learned Portuguese or English or another language, did he stutter just as much as he did with his first language?

    Thanks again for sharing!

  13. Dr. De Nardo,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I love hearing that by influence of his speech therapist your son chose to pursue a career as a speech language pathologist himself. I believe sharing his experiences will help others with communication disorders feel empowered and supported. I am currently a second year speech language pathology student and was wondering what made your family’s experience with speech therapy so positive? How can I as a future clinician help PWS feel supported and empowered? I would also like to know if you have any ideas on how to create awareness about stuttering in our communities.

    Thank you again!

  14. Dr. De Nardo,

    You provide such an interesting and insightful perspective. Being a family member of PWS and from a different country, you can provide such an interesting cross-cultural perspective about how the world views PWS. I love that your son decided to pursue a career int Speech-language Pathology. I am a Speech-language Pathology graduate student. I have had a couple of professors who stutter. They provide such a unique and personal perspective to our fluency discussions.

    Could you tell me more about the similarities and differences between how Brazil and the US view PWS? I am also wondering if your son’s stuttering was effected by the move to the US.

    Thanks for sharing!

  15. Hello Dr. De Nardo,
    I want to thank you for sharing your inspiring story. I too believe that society’s disrespect towards stuttering is due to lack of awareness. I am studying speech-language pathology and am in my final year of graduate school. It wasn’t until I spoke to individuals about my plan of study that I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who attended speech therapy and the friends who told me about their journey with stuttering. Throughout my life and with my future profession, I too hope that I can make a difference and bring awareness to stuttering. You mentioned that your son began speech therapy at the age of 5-years-old, is that when he began to stutter or did you notice it before he turned that age? Also, did the speech therapist in the U.S. use the same or different strategies as the one in Brazil and how did you decide which SLP was best for your son? Thank you for your response in advance! -Emmery

  16. Hi Dr. De Nardo!

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I am a second year SLP student and am very interested in the emotional consequences of stuttering. Did your son’s SLP provide both emotional and functional support? How can I, as a future SLP, provide the best emotional support to my clients who stutter and their families? In addition, did you find your son’s teacher(s) to be receptive to your concerns/requests for him in the classroom? Thank you!

  17. Hi Elizabeth,
    Thank you for sharing your story. You gave an insight not only to the life of one who stutters, but also an insight to a family member of someone who stutters. I am a graduate SLP student and am interested in how to increased the general public’s awareness of stuttering. I had a few questions for you. Do you feel your son’s speech therapist assisted in promoting awareness of stuttering to his school and classmates? What things would you recommend that future SLP’s do to promote awareness of stuttering to the general public?

  18. Hello Dr. De Nardo,
    Your story helped me realize that many people do tend to make jokes about stutterers and don’t try to be understanding. However, I was just wondering what techniques the speech therapists used with your son? Also, did any of the techniques help him reach close to normal fluency?

  19. Hello Dr. De Nardo,
    Your story is inspiring and speaks to the continued need for education in our schools in regard to people who stutter and are different than others. As a future speech pathologist I plan to work in the schools and hope to be able to work with school counselors to educate teachers, staff and students about the dangers of bullying. To have a voice and to advocate for yourself should be an important component to speech therapy. You are making a difference by sharing your story in this forum, and hopefully we can all join you in making a difference by talking about stuttering and bringing awareness to others.
    Thank you for sharing!

  20. Hello,
    It was very nice to hear a parents perspective. I, as well, find stuttering to be the jokes in many TV shows or movies for the comic relief. People often put humor to ideas and situations that are uncomfortable to them and unknown. Like you said, if stuttering is more well known, it will not become as funny to so many people.

  21. Elizabeth,

    I loved reading your story! I enjoyed hearing the perspective of a family member of individuals who stutter. As a speech pathology graduate student, I am currently working with several elementary school aged children who stutter in the school setting. Many of the parents of these children view their child’s stutter as a problem that needs to be quickly taken care of through speech therapy. I understand why parents feel this way, but have observed how their negative opinions of stuttering affect their children’s self-confidence. Do you have any advice on how I can provide counseling to these parents and encourage them to accept their child’s stutter?

    Thank you,


  22. Hey Elizabeth,
    What an inspiration you are to the stuttering community. I’m glad your son had such a positive and strong support group in schools. My uncle is a PWS and was not so fortunate. He experienced terrible bullying throughout grade school. However, he didn’t have a support system or someone to educate for him. I believe educating the teachers played a role in bringing awareness about stuttering throughout the school increasing your son’s positive outcome. I am in graduate school to become a SLP. What do you believe the SLP did best to help benefit your son and family dynamic?

    Thank you for sharing your story. More CWS need a mom like you.


  23. Hi Dr. De Nardo,

    That was a very impressive story. I respect your courage to move to a new country and continue to advocate for your son no matter what. I am a graduate student in speech-language pathology and I am curious what differences you noticed between speech treatment your son received in Brazil versus here in the United States? Also, was there anything in his treatment with the SLP in Brazil that you believe would benefit treatment in the US?

    Thank you and I hope one day when I become an SLP I can make a positive difference in a child who stutter’s life!


  24. Hi Dr. De Nardo,

    Thank you for sharing your son’s story. I am a grad student studying speech pathology and am currently taking a fluency class. I knew little about fluency disorders prior to this semester and we have since spent a lot of time discussing attitudes and emotions regarding stuttering and its impact on the person who stutters and those around him or her. You mentioned that in the US your son was not picked on much for stuttering and was able to find a support group. What kind of resources were available to you in Brazil? Did your son face any more ridicule there for his stuttering than in the US?


  25. As an SLP graduate student who is going to work with CWS and parents of CWS in the future I’d like to know what advice you would have liked to hear first or something you feel important that I could share with parents. Because I have never been a parent that has to watch their child experience these events and harsh reactions of other people I would love to hear your perspective. I think focusing on awareness is a great focus and can be a great tool for parents. I appreciate any advice. Thanks!

  26. Hi Dr. De Nardo,
    Thank your for sharing! I found it extremely interesting that there was such a difference among cultures regarding stuttering. After reviewing various video clips in class of stuttering in the media I agree with the negative, humorous presentation of a person who stutters. We should not be making fun of people who stutter, or make it seem okay by having them be a “funny” character in movies or TV shows. By creating awareness of stuttering it may help more people understand what stuttering is and that it isn’t a joke. Thanks!

  27. Good morning Elizabeth,

    I am a first year graduate student currently enrolled in a fluency course. I enjoyed reading about your son’s transition from a society where stuttering was not discussed and often a part of jokes to a society with an increased awareness of stuttering and support. I believe that you addressed the importance of looking at the emotional and personal impact of stuttering rather than just focusing on the surface behaviors. As I am learning through class readings and discussion, stuttering involves so much more than just the observable surface behaviors. I liked how you stated the importance of working to encourage more awareness of stuttering in order to eliminate bullying and to increase self-esteem in individuals who stutter. I was wondering how you addressed the negative comments and jokes that your son was exposed to in Brazil prior to coming to the United States. When your son was still young, did you talk to your son about the negative comments after the event or did you address the person stating the negative comment within the situation in order to teach your son to advocate for himself? As a future SLP, I would love to be able to increase society’s awareness of stuttering in order to decrease bullying and negative comments/jokes about stuttering. Thanks again for providing this paper with such useful information!

    Kelsey H.

    • Thanks Khooy for reading my paper and sharing your thoughts with me.
      In my son’s case, we were indeed very fortunate to had had the opportunity to learn about the disorder and how to communicate this with the relatives, friends, teachers and few friends. In addition, growing up with my uncle and specially my brother with this disorder gave me a good experience. Because both of them had a successful life I used them a lot to show my son that spite of stuttering he could be happy, have a job, friends, get married and have a family. My brother that still stutters was my son’ role model. The use of role model, to talk about the problem was my son, to encourage to be strong, to involve him in many activities as possible to interact with people , I believe was key to his development. Also my husband and I never let him to avoid situations that he needed to talk or do something in his behavior, such as talking with someone in his behalf. He never had low self esteem.
      The role of the speech pathologist was crucial in helping him and us as parent.
      To create awareness I believe starting with kids is one of the best option because since they learn they will keep this forever. Having activities in the school involving kids, teacher, and parents would be a good start. Social media and and the new technologies currently available for sure will facilitate disseminate awareness about this communication disorder. Thanks

  28. Dr. De Nardo,

    What prompted you to move to the United States? Did you move in hopes of finding more resources and services for your son? Also, did your son’s teachers keep their word and treat him like the other students? Did he feel more accepted here?

    Thank you!


    • Thanks Abby for reading and sharing your though. We moved to the US because my husband was transferred to work here. This happened almost 20 years ago. We used to live in a city with many resources and many speech pathologists, although few of them as an expert in stuttering. My son received good treatment over there. Of course in the US we found much more information, resources and speech pathologists more focused in stuttering. My son’s teachers over here and in Brazil too respect him a lot and treat him like others. This was very good and helped him to be respected by his peers. He was very well accepted here since we moved but this was trues also in Brazil. I am not aware about any bulling situation. Because he love sports he was member of different sport teams what helped him to have many friends. In fact,I highly recommend to involve kids who stutter in many social activities as possible. I believe this help a lot not only the kid but as well as bring awareness to the society. Thanks

  29. Hi Elizabeth,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I agree that many people do not think about how hurtful their jokes can be. I think it is great that you are spreading awareness about stuttering and educating people! I believe that people need to learn more about stuttering and how hurtful their jokes can be. I am a graduate student studying to be an SLP. Your paper has provided me with great information. Is there is anything else you would like me to know as a future SLP?

    I am curious, how did your son’s speech therapy in Brazil compare to his speech therapy in the U.S.?

    Thank you!
    – Kristina

  30. Dr. De Nardo,
    Thank you for sharing your story! I was surprised that stuttering was taken so lightly in Brazil, yet I am happy to hear that your son was accepted here in the U.S. Though your son’s teachers and classmates brought a sense of awareness and respect about stuttering, I agree that awareness is still lacking overall. If more people had a better understanding of stuttering, hopefully there would be less negativity and disrespect surrounding the stuttering community.


  31. Hi Dr. De Nardo,
    I am a second year graduate student studying Speech-Language Pathology. I am currently taking a stuttering course that discusses various treatment types as well as treatment in the school system. Personally, I have had fluency clients, but only in the university clinic. I was wondering what aspect of your sons experience in the school/therapy contributed most to his lack of bullying? Do you have any suggestions for Speech Pathologists on advice they can give to a parent whose child stutters? Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  32. Hello, Elizabeth
    I really enjoyed your article. Now that I am in the SLP field and have a better understanding of what it means to be a PWS, I am also beginning to notice jokes and the lack of knowledge that people make at others expense. I have one question however, regarding the instance that happened to your son at the bar. As a person who has taken a bartending class I have witnessed the seriousness that they impose on bartenders for not over serving people. My question to you is this, how can we help those bartenders understand when someone is a PWS or when they are overly intoxicated and will say anything to be served another drink? A PWS should be able to go to a bar and drink and not feel that their stutter holds them back, however, we also do not want the bartenders serving people who might be so drunk they are presenting as a PWS and then as a community feel the consequences of this later. I am unsure on how to find the happy balance to make everyone feel happy and accepted, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    • Hi Carissa. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You were in the other side of situation and I think what you said is a fair point. I had the same reaction and said the same things to my son when he told me what had happened with him in the bar.I understand it is a busy and noisy environment and nobody has time to evaluate the situation and more important nobody expect to meet a person who stutter … Education and awareness may help ..
      I think the worst for my son was being escorted outside the bar. Maybe a different policy on whom, how, and when to escort people outside the establishment would help. Difficult question to answer. Thanks

  33. Hello Elizabeth,
    Thank you for sharing your experience about having a son who stutters. I think it is great that you talked to the school faculty about your son’s stuttering and that the teachers spoke to the students about his stuttering. I couldn’t help but to wonder what you think would have happened if you did not disclose about your son’s stuttering. Luckily, your son did not face bullying. Although, many younger individuals may face bullying as a result of their stuttering. Do you think that without the awareness and knowledge about his stuttering that the students would have been less accepting? Also, you discussed your son’s stuttering while he was in college. I was wondering what your thoughts were on society’s perception of a person who stutters intelligence. Do you think professors and students view a person who stutters as less competent compared to typically fluent speakers? Or do you think that stuttering has little impact on society’s views of a person who stutters intelligence?


    • Hi Caitlin,
      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. Regarding your questions:
      1-Do you think that without the awareness and knowledge about his stuttering that the students would have been less accepting? I believe that the awareness brought a better acceptance by his colleagues and his colleagues’ parents too. Also, the kids in that school were not familiar with kids who stuttered and maybe they did not have any stereotype in their mind. They were just 10 years old living in a very nice neighborhood; 2)I was wondering what your thoughts were on society’s perception of a person who stutters intelligence. Do you think professors and students view a person who stutters as less competent compared to typically fluent speakers?. This is a hard question to answer specially by me who grew up with people who stutter and know that this is not true. Also, I believe it depends on the person, her/ his background, education level, and where she/ he lives. Speaking is everything in life and if you can’t do this well, this can affect you and the way other people see you too. I think many people has the perception that people who stutter is less intelligent. This is a situation that needs a lot of work with the society to bring awareness and de-bung this myth. In fact, my son and I had a bad experience with a doctor that used to work in the community. We went to talk to him because my son had some interest on being a physician. Politely he said it would be very difficult with his disorder to be a doctor and to communicate with the patients. It was a big disappointment for me to listen that and it had influence in my son’carrier decision. Until today I regretted haven talked to that person. Fifteen years later my son reduced a lot his stuttering and communicate very well with everybody. Thanks

  34. Elizabeth,
    As a future speech-language pathologist it was so refreshing to hear how you are advocating on behalf of your family members! I really do think having a good support system makes all the difference for a child who grows up with a communication disorder. It sounds like your son had a pretty good school experience unlike a lot of horror stories I’ve heard. It is unfortunate that he still runs into people who are insensitive and uneducated about stuttering. I think there are so many opportunities to educate people in the school system, whether we take advantage of these opportunities is a completely different story, but how do we reach people in the community? Do you have any suggestions to increase general awareness?

  35. Elizabeth,

    Thank you for sharing your personal story regarding your son and brother. I am currently a graduate student pursuing a master’s of science degree in speech-langauge pathology. I took a counseling class during the previous summer in order to better “help” my future patients and families. Is there any additional advice you can give me if I encounter a child or family with a child who demonstrates a dysfluency?

    Also, you talked about how you were very involved in support groups and raising awareness. Do you believe society is now more accepting of a PWS or is there more we can do to raise awareness?



    • Thanks for reading my paper and sharing your thoughts. You as a future speech-language pathologist will have may opportunities to bring awareness to the society.
      it can start with a blog, an article in the school newsletter, a talk in the elementary school or high school. I suggested starting with kids and involve parents.
      Good Luck! Wish you a bright future.Thanks

  36. Hi Dr. Nardo,
    I am currently a second year graduate student, going for my masters degree in speech language pathology. I definitely agree with you on the fact that if there is a greater awareness and understanding on stuttering, there will be a decrease in inappropriate jokes. Sharing your story taught me two very important messages: One, providing classmates with an understanding on stuttering can help diminish bullying, and two, strengthening a PWS’s hobbies can help them build up their self-esteem and form relationships.

  37. Hi Elizabeth,
    Thanks for sharing. It was refreshing to read the perspective of a relative, especially a parent of a person who stutters. Kudos to your son for pursuing his PhD in speech-language pathology! One thing I found intriguing about your paper is how universal attitudes toward stuttering are. I suppose I had assumed that the crude jokes at the expense of one who stutters in movies or TV shows were just an American thing. It surprised me that jokes were passed around in Brazil as well. I am happy to read that when you and your son came to America, you found a support system and he was accepted rather than teased. I did read another person’s comment that said Brazil had made strides toward spreading awareness about stuttering, which is wonderful! I’m curious what your thoughts are about why there was/is such a difference between the US and Brazil in terms of acceptance? I’m not familiar with the culture there but I would love to hear any input you have about how stuttering is viewed in Brazil. Clearly, the US has some work to do (i.e. the play you attended). Do you think your friends from Brazil would be open to learning more about stuttering?
    Thanks again for sharing. It was a pleasure to read.

  38. Dr. De Nardo,
    Thanks so much for sharing your personal stories! I believe that people who stutter should not be ridiculed or treated any differently. It is so important that we raise the awareness of stuttering and help people understand the implications that making jokes about PWS can have on things like their self-esteem, confidence, and level of interaction with other people. By raising awareness, hopefully we can reduce the lack of knowledge about stuttering in the community and help PWS feel comfortable and confident with their verbal communication.
    Thanks for your thoughts!
    -Breanna G.

  39. Hi Dr. De Nardo
    I think your article is so important because after working in schools I have seen how mean kids can be. I think teachers sometimes underestimate their ability to stop bullying and spread awareness. Not only for children who stutter, but children with learning disabilities or who are just labeled as “different,” it is so important for teachers and faculty to spread awareness and show how we are all similar in so many ways despite our differences and bullying should never be tolerated. I am happy to hear that you and your son have had such growth and support. Thank you for spreading awareness and making such a difference!

  40. Hi Dr. De Nardo,
    Your story is inspiring and refreshing to read! I am currently placed in an educational setting for an internship. I have a elementary-aged boy who is dealing with his peers teasing him on the school bus and at recess. Do you think addressing and educating the bullies on stuttering be more effective if undergone as a group (i.e. the whole class) or individually? Would the child feel “singled-out” if his class was educated on stuttering, knowing that he is the only one in the school who stutters?
    Thank you!

  41. Elizabeth,
    I appreciate having the opportunity to read your thoughts. I am currently in a graduate program studying to be a SLP. I have read a few papers from parents of children who stutter. I find great value in being able to read from the parent’s perspective. You have a different view of how a lack of understanding has impacted your son. Kudos to your son for going into the SLP field to help others. I’m sure he will play an important role in the lives of many who have a communication disorder. Thank you for sharing.
    Kayla J

  42. Hi Dr. Nardo,
    I am a speech language pathology graduduate student. I really enjoyed reading your paper, it has such an amazing message! I was wondering if you had any advice on how to make children who don’t stutter, more aware of stuttering in order to prevent bullying.

    Victoria F.

  43. Dr. De Nardo,

    I found this read very interesting and loved reading about how your son went into the field of speech pathology:) I did not realize that stuttering is perceived so different in Brazil compared to the US. It’s really great that you are doing things to promote stuttering awareness, as so many people don’t realize the extreme negative emotions involved. As your son was growing up, what advice would you give him when he would experience negativity related to stuttering? It seems as though you helped him so much during his school years and I’m curious to know more.

    Thank you,


  44. Hello Ms. De Nardo
    I really enjoyed reading your paper. Thank you for sharing your experience and your son’s experience with stuttering. I found it very interesting to hear about the differences you noted after moving to the United States. I thought it was wonderful how your son’s school talked to the students about stuttering to bring awareness to the topic. I look back to when I was in middle school and high school, and stuttering was something no one ever talked about. By not talking about it, I believe people felt uncomfortable with it. I think it would be great if more schools did bring up the topic to make students more aware of it. As a future Speech-Language Pathologist, your paper has highlighted just how important spreading awareness truly is, and I want to join you in bringing awareness about stuttering!

  45. Dr. Elizabeth De Nardo,

    I am a Post-Baccalaureate student in Communication Sciences and Disorders preparing to apply to graduate programs for fall of 2017 while working towards clinical hours for a Speech Language Pathology Assistant License. 

I would like to take the time to thank you for sharing your story and advocating not only for your son but all individuals with communication disorders. I’m glad that you were able to find opportunities for your son to be able to meet teens who also stuttered and create a strong support system for him.

    I completely agree with your statement that all individuals with communication disorders deserve respect, dignity and recognition. I strongly believe the way to do that is by spreading awareness and breaking down stereotypes. My class viewed a documentary recently, “The Way We Talk” by Mike Turner (a stutterer) who sheds light on challenges stutterers and their families face, as well as acknowledging that some individuals view stuttering as a part of their identity.

    Individuals such as yourself and Mike Turner are creating a positive supportive environment for those who suffer from communication disorders. I hope through continuing my education and working towards becoming a bilingual Speech Language Pathologist I can have the same influence on the lives of others.

    Thank you for your time,
    Lili Ferrerosa

  46. Hi Elizabeth,
    It was interesting to read about the difference in how stuttering was treated in Brazil versus the United States. I am glad that you found Ohio to be more accepting and supportive for your son. But, as you pointed out, insensitivity even happens in the U.S. and continuing to educate the public about stuttering is a powerful tool toward reducing the ignorance that contributes to that ignorance and intolerance. Thank you for speaking out and sharing your story.

  47. Hello Elizabeth, you are right, stammering is often portrayed in films by a negative character and this is an injustice to people who stammer! I wonder if you have seen Stutterer a recent oscar nominated short film about a young man who stammers. It is a very endearing and beautiful film! I am training to be an SLT and hope to raise awareness and make a difference in my career. Happy ISAD!
    Jamie (UK)

  48. Dear Elizabeth,

    It is very interesting to learn that different societies and cultures had different views on stuttering. Stuttering must be hard enough on its own and adding in the element of being made fun of and brought down by others seems to make the situation even worse. I am very happy for you and your son that you were able to find helpful resources and gain a sense of acceptance rather than defeat. The theme of awareness that you point out is extremely important. It is vital that anyone feel a sense of community. Once individuals become aware of stuttering and what comes with it, they can hopefully have compassion and help those who stutter instead of bullying them.

    Thank you for bringing the issue to my attention,

  49. Dr. DeNardo, I am very interested in advocacy for people who stutter in my community. Your proactive approach to informing your son’s teachers was excellent. Do you have any other recommendations for advocating in the community?

    Thank you
    Julie Spencer

  50. Hi Elizabeth,

    I wanted to thank you for sharing your perspective. It was interesting to learn about your experiences between Brazil and the US. Until you mentioned that stuttering was a source of humor in some entertainment I hadn’t really thought about it but one of my favorite movies came to mind – A Fish Called Wanda. One of the main characters has a severe stutter, to the point that he doesn’t talk a lot and when he does the other main character makes fun of him. I am currently a grad student doing my Masters in Speech Pathology and one of our classes this semester is on Stuttering. Before this class, I didn’t give it much thought and even when watching the movie – didn’t think a whole lot of the stuttering. I now understand stuttering more and that while I didn’t think it was something to make fun of prior to this semester, I can now appreciate what it could feel like for that character and how for entertainment value we stereotype someone with a stutter as slow, or dumb and that this is a hindrance to creating awareness about stuttering. I’m so happy you and your son could find a group and continue to raise awareness about stuttering.
    Getting your perspective was nice too – as we often hear from PWS. It’s important to remember that there are so many people and that we can all make a difference.