My Stuttering Life Story: Growth Through Speaking-Out – Winnifer Baez (supported by Lourdes Ramos-Heinrichs)

About the Authors:

Winnifer Baez is a 16-year old student entering the 10th grade in a two-way Spanish/English bilingual High School in Boston, The Margarita Muniz Academy. The stuttering has impacted her social and academic life, but she has decided to speak-out about her stuttering experiences and to share with others her stuttering journey. Winnifer has experienced growth through speaking.

Winnifer has been stuttering since the preschool years and has had speech therapy with various speech therapists.  For a while she hid the stuttering from teachers and peers.  Although she loves to talk and engage in conversations, she pretended that she was shy to avoid talking. Last year in  9th grade, she decided to talk and to NOT let the stuttering get control of her life.  She made many friends, connected with teachers, and went to all her speech therapy sessions. Winnifer gave a huge presentation about her stuttering to 45-graduate students studying Fluency Disorders at Northeastern University.  Now she’d like to share her story about speaking-out with you at the ISAD 2019.

Lourdes Ramos-Heinrichs, MA, CCC-sp, BCS-F, is a bilingual speech-language pathologist and a specialist in fluency disorders.  She works full time in the Boston Public Schools and teaches fluency and fluency disorders classes at Northeastern University.  She is a member of the executive board in the American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders.  Lourdes encouraged Winnifer to speak-out about her stuttering experiences and to prepare a presentation to present at ISAD 2019.
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My Stuttering Life Story: Growth Through Speaking-Out – Winnifer Baez (supported by Lourdes Ramos-Heinrichs) — 15 Comments

  1. Winnifer, great paper. Thanks for telling us about your great life experiences with speaking up.

    • Winnifer, I loved everything about this paper. The innocence you portrayed, the innocence that you miss about your life and people around you. I think many of us look back on our life and wish at some point that we could go back to the part of our life where everyone was nice to everyone. When you mentioned that when you were younger and children never laughed or made fun of your stutter, it made me think about all the people in this world with a stutter that are afraid to talk. I pray that someday I can become a SLP and a friend to my clients who need someone to remind them of a Childs innocence. I am inspired by your story, I pray that you the beauty of your story like I do.

  2. Thank you for sharing your life story. I thought your presentation was organized very well and I loved your sense of humor. I was curious to know how others treated you during grade school when your stutter and I noticed that you mentioned that you are a pretty good athlete and that you gained respect from your peers. Do you think this might have had an influence on your later comment saying that you weren’t ever really bullied or teased about your stutter? I just wonder if someone who has a stutter and doesn’t have the ability to gain respect from their peers would get teased more about their stutter. I think it is really cool that you were able to go speak to a graduate class and answer their questions. I am in a graduate course right now on fluency but I am in Idaho so I think it might be too difficult for you to come speak to our class. Thanks again for sharing your story!

    • Thanks for your comment. I never thought about that, i just think i was in the right environment and surrounded by great people. There wasn’t really people being bullied when I was in grade school. Our community was like a family so we treated each other like family. Boston and Idaho and very far apart so it would be hard lol.But thank you and I loved that you liked my sense of humor.

  3. Hi Winnifer,

    Thank you for being so open about your experiences with stuttering. It’s cool that you have so much support from your SLP and teachers. I imagine it is challenging when family members or friends become inpatient when you stutter, but it sounds like you are learning how to advocate for yourself. It sounds like you are building a great foundation of support and knowledge about stuttering so that you can educate other people when they make unhelpful suggestions. The kids that you mentor are lucky to have you!

    Take care,

    • Awwwww thank you. Mostly, sometimes it gets annoying when they get impatient but I get through it. I want to educate at least the people who want to know about stuttering.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your story! It is so awesome that you had/have such an amazing support group. You are a great girl and your story is helping so many people. Just wondering about your therapy history, you said your stutter got better around middle school. Do you think this was in part due to therapy? I think it is so awesome that you embrace your stutter and I think you would be an excellent role model to anyone in your path. This presentation was engaging and so eye-opening. Thanks again for sharing your experiences!

  5. Winnifer
    I am a 2nd year grad student and really like some of the things you said. One of them being “Sometimes, I wonder if a time will come when I won’t stutter anymore.” I do have a question about that statement: Have you always known/understood that fluency is not the goal and that it is really being comfortable with your stutter?
    As I was going through your powerpoint I noticed that the way you worded things seemed like you were fairly confident in most situations because no one seemed to notice or comment on your stutter. You said that it was the listeners problem if they had a problem with your stutter. I like that attitude! One thing though: How do you balance that out with teaching people about your stutter and increasing awareness?
    Last few things: You listed a lot of techniques toward the end of the slide show. How do you remember to use the techniques while you are speaking?
    I think it is awesome that you worked with kids who stutter as well. You are probably a great example to them and are someone to look up to!

    Thank you so much!

    PS. Do you stutter more in one language over another or is it the same?

    • Over the course of last year I did learn that the goal was to be comfortable with my stutter. At this point, it’s really not as a big issue as it was. It’s a mix of both, and they just have to except it and that it self is increasing awareness about it. Someone I don’t remember but usually when i’m ready stuttering on a word I remember about my techniques. Excellent question, I speak more fluently in english then in spanish. In spanish I be stuttering a lot, I mostly speak spanish at house with my parents so no one has really heard how bad it is other than my parents. Thank you, for your comment!!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am a speech-language pathology graduate student and I really appreciated your perspective on stuttering. I liked your sense of humor and you have a very good perspective. I would like to work in schools when I graduate. Is there any advice that you could give me on ways that speech-therapists have helped you or something you would like me to know as I start becoming a speech therapist?

  7. Winnifer,

    Thank you so much for telling your story. This was great and such a great view of perspective from a PWS. As a graduate student in my fluency class now I have been learning about all the secondary characteristics a PWS may show or have.
    You are such an inspiration to many who stutter with your life story and continuing to play sports and participate in public activities with others. It was great knowing that no one picked or made fun of you for stuttering throughout grade school. Do you think if there were people who did make comments or pick on you it would have changed your choices and actions throughout sports and other activities?
    Was it hard or upsetting at times when your mom would rush you or get impatient with your stuttering and yell out comments for you to get it out?
    I seen where you said you sung at graduation, I’ve previously learned that some PWS have a decrease in their stuttering when singing. Did you find this true for you?
    Also I seen where you said you graduate from a bilingual school. Do you happen to notice if your stuttering is worse in a certain language or is it about the same for both? This is something I have always been curious about. If so, which language was easier or more fluent speech for you?
    I really like and agree with the comments and tips/strategies you suggested towards the end of your paper. Throughout this I kept thinking just how important advocacy and support are to this disorder. You portray great advocacy and its great that you are now working with others who stutter.

  8. Winnifer, your story is AMAZING! Your smile and confidence are contagious 😊 I am a future SLP and the techniques that you mention that you use (advertise that you stutter, regulate breathing, talking in shorter sentences) are a few of the techniques that we are learning to assist PWS. I love it when you say that you advocate for yourself and others that stutter. Knowledge promotes awareness and at your young age I am glad that you realize that you can be the voice for your generation. I know that we are learning that sometimes (not all) there are triggers that cause stuttering such as emotions, fears, anxiety. Have you noticed that different emotions may cause you to inhibit or exhibit stuttering? Do you notice that you are more fluent in one language than the other? I love that you have family, friends, and teachers to support you on your journey. You are truly an inspiration! Continue to advocate!

  9. Hi Winnifer,

    Thank you for sharing your story! It was amazing to read about your personal feelings toward your stutter at different points of your life. As a future speech-language pathologist, I appreciated seeing the type of therapy techniques that worked for you. I was wondering if you experience stuttering in both languages? Also, were there specific situations (public speaking, participating in class, or talking to friends/family) where you experienced more fluent speech? Lastly, has the reactions of others influenced your personal opinion about your stutter?

    – Shakira

    • With my old speech therapist and my current one I do easy-on set strategy(which is my favorite). When I read in class, my stuttering doesn’t really affect me at all. When it comes to reading i’m very fluent. During my presentation at Northeastern i’m pretty sure I didn’t stutter that much. No, I don’t really speak about my stutter to many people you know. If they now they know but we really don’t discuss it that much. I have my opinions which have not changed from others opinion.

  10. Hi Winnifer,

    I just downloaded and watched your presentation via PowerPoint and so enjoyed your confidence and self awareness. Breaking your stuttering down into sort of like “the life cycle of stuttering” is a great way to look at something that may seem overwhelming in it’s entirety but much more manageable in life span bites.

    You are one of the most courageous young women I’ve had the pleasure to read about and hear. It was great to see you in pictures and your narration of where you think you were on each leg of the journey. I especially loved your captions on some photos – “see my flow.” I didn’t necessarily see flow – I saw courage and empowerment. You are so fortunate to have these experiences now as a teenager because there is a great likelihood that stuttering will not limit your life choices.

    I stutter and really didn’t come to terms with it until mid adulthood, and wasted a lot of time and opportunities to speak and engage because I didn’t think I was worthy. When I found my voice, I too became an advocate for people who stutter, especially women. In fact, I host a podcast exclusively for women who stutter to give women a place to share our stories, because we all have one. I would love to have you as a guest on the podcast sometime, if you’re interested. You can see it here, I have had several teens and young adults share on the podcast and it’s very empowering for women all over the world to hear women who stutter and realize we are not alone.

    Beautiful job – this is such a confident and important narrative about women and stuttering.