Can Stuttering Have a Positive Impact? Yes! – Angelica Bernabe

About the Author:

Angelica Bernabe is a psychologist and a person who stutters from Peru. Her interests include studying how to improve stuttering treatment and the importance of involving more than speech techniques. Also, she is keen on stuttering and co-occurrence conditions.  Since 2018,  is the director of a peruvian specialized center for stuttering dedicated to provide training for professionals and treatment for kids, teenagers and adults who stutter. Now she is looking forward to studying a master degree abroad in Speech and Language Pathology.

Hundreds of surveys have shown the adverse impact a person who stutter can experience. In a world that doesn’t understand our way to talk, many of us are discriminated, teased and ignored, which could result in low self-esteem, negative self-concept and many others, negative personal reactions. 

Studying the negative impact gives us a better understanding of what a person who stutter is going through. In that regard, we develop more ways to help them to cope with any challenging situation. That’s perfect, and we still need to know more about that. However, what about the positive impact? Does it exist? 

A few days ago I was talking with friends who stutter and we agreed with the idea that stuttering gave us many good things. So, why don’t we shared them here?  Let’s start!

EMPATHY

Do you have a condition? It is OK! We have one as well (or two!). We understand what it is living with a condition and we know life is not always easy and fair, so we can understand you and support you. I’ve never met a person who stutters who wasn’t able to help someone. In fact, there are several support groups around the world created for people who stutter just to help others. Just to listen and help!

GOOD LISTENERS

We know what it is like living around people who finish our sentences and go away while we are talking. We really know the importance of listening to others and to pay attention because that’s what we always want to. If you want to talk to us, we can listen to you without any judgement. 

RESILIENCE

We understand that stuttering (or any other thing) doesn’t have to hold us back. We know what is to try and don’t give up on achieving our goals. Once we overcome all the fears, we would be ready to face any situation. And what if the result wasn’t the expected one? It is ok, we know what is to try again! 

COMMUNITY

I have to say this one is my favorite. We are so glad to meet people who stutter just like us and be part of an amazing and supportive community. Also, it is wonderful to see many speech and language pathologists that, for different reasons, became passionate for this subject and are putting all their efforts to create a better world for us. Their empathy and sensibility is stunning. It is crazy how much we can learn from them and how lucky we are for that. 

Of course, I’m not saying that being a person who stutters is easy and I know accepting ourselves is not a one-day-process. Also, I’m definitely not saying that we are “better” than others. What I really mean is there are more consequences than just the negatives ones. I strongly believe that we need to go further into this topic and, as you can imagine, this is not that simple: if we don’t have a deep understanding of what stuttering really means, it is quite easy to fall into the trap and confuse acceptance and resignation.



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Comments

Can Stuttering Have a Positive Impact? Yes! – Angelica Bernabe — 49 Comments

  1. Thank you for this Angelica. I am mom to a 24-year old who stutters and I know he would concur. I can also relate as the parent — I feel like I’m more empathic, I know I’m a far better listener than I was before having a son who stuttered, and I too have gained from the community. Glad you’re pursuing your SLP degree! Good luck!

    • Thank you for your kind message! Yes, the benefits are also present on the relatives of people who stutter. I’m glad you can see it too. Thank you so much! 🙂

  2. I love this. You are so right that we don’t show enough gratitude to what our stutter brings us and these amazing traits that we have developed as a result of it and how much our life has benefitted from our stutters.

    What is the organization you work with in Peru? I am very fascinated as I run our Disabilities Employee Resource Group at SMBC and we have an office in Peru so would love to find out more about you guys and see if I can get them involved with your community somehow. Thank you again for helping us see stutter in a different light!

    • Thank you for your comment! The name of my company is “Centro Especializado en Tartamudez” 🙂 I’m glad you also work to help others who stutter. Thank you! 🙂

  3. I really enjoyed reading this! I am beginning to study speech language pathology, and was wondering what are some of the best ways speech pathologists can create a better world for those that stutter?

    • Thank you so much! And, yes! SLP can help people who stutter in several ways! One good way to start is learning what stuttering REALLY means, because it’s not just the disfluencies that everybody see 😉 If clinicians understand the big picture (impact, personal reactions, society, etc), they would be able to treat the whole person who stutters, not only the speech 🙂 It’s easy to fall into the trap and believe that people who stutter just need techniques, so that’s why start learning about this is the first step. Good luck with your studies! 🙂

  4. Hi, Angelica! I was very inspired by your post and absolutely loved it! I am currently a graduate student studying to be a speech-language pathologist. I do feel like in our field we initially do tend to focus on and study the negative effects of stuttering to gain understanding on the emotional perspective of individuals who stutter. Your post opened my eyes to gain insight on some of the many positive aspects of stuttering, which brings joy to my heart. Based off what you wrote and described, I bet you’re a wonderful friend to have! My question to you is, are support groups open to welcoming individuals without a stutter? I feel like if I attended one I could learn an immense amount, as well as meet some very kind and accepting new friends! Great entry!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so happy that you have a bigger framework now 🙂 And, yes, indeed! Attending support groups for people who stutter is an amazing way to learn! I’m sure you can be part of it 🙂 In the USA, I attended some meetings organized by the National Stuttering Association and there were therapists who doesn’t stutter 🙂 They were there only to listen to us and to learn from our stories. I’m sure if you contact them, they will be happy! Thank you! 🙂

  5. Thanks for pointing out the positive sides of stuttering, as both PWS and people around us often think it’s all bad and want to “cure” it. A few years ago I wrote this for the ISAD online conference. http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/isad11/papers/gift11/blom11.html
    It confirms everything you wrote. 🙂
    I even got my job thanks to my stutter. I went back to school as an adult to face my fears. After two years I was offered a teaching job, as they saw I was a good listener, spoke slowly (to lessen my stutter) when explaining things, and had loads of patience with people. All habits I learned because of my stutter. This is something we really need to tell PWS, SLPs, parents, employers etc. Yes, making speaking easier makes life easier. But for those who can’t, or don’t feel the need to, life can be just as amazing. 🙂

    Stay safe and keep bringing positive thoughts

    Anita

    • Oh, wow! I haven’t read that one, but I enjoyed it! I’m glad we see eye to eye on this 🙂 And, yes! Life can be amazing for us 😉 Even if we stutter or not! Thank you for your comment! Stay safe! 🙂

  6. I loved reading this! It highlights the positives of stuttering. I agree that the positives of stuttering extend to members that you are surrounded by too. Not only do you become a better listener, but also your loved ones. This was something I didn’t really think about before, so thank you for bringing that to light. I’m also pursuing my SLP degree! Good luck! Your future clients are lucky to have you!

    • Thank you so much! It’s time to see the other side! 😉 And, all the best on your SLP degree! Thanks again! 🙂

  7. Thank you for this uplifting post! I think it is so important to share the positives that come from being a person who stutters! I am currently in a SLP graduate program working towards my Masters and have thoroughly enjoyed learning about stuttering. I am taking a fluency course right now and have learned that stuttering can appear in different stages of life (childhood, adolescence, adulthood), when did you recognize yourself as a person who stutters? If you have a negative speaking experience, what do you to shake it off and keep moving forward?

    Thanks again for sharing 🙂

    • Hey! I’m glad you enjoy studying stuttering 🙂 It’s so nice that you have a course only focus on that!

      I started to stutter when I was 4 or 5. And, like many of us, I had negative experiences as well. Actually, I’m still meeting people who don’t understand stuttering! but now I see it differently 🙂 I try to educate people who don’t know about my condition and also I learned to love my way to talk 🙂 It’s part of me, and I don’t try to hide it. Of course, I took me a lot of time, but it worth it! 🙂 Thanks for asking!

  8. Angelica, I loved reading your post! You sound like you have adjusted well to life as a person who stutters. Also, your point about the positive impacts is interesting. It does seem that quite a bit of research has been done on the negative impacts of stuttering. I’m glad you’re channeling your energy positively and want to study abroad and become a speech-language pathologist. Your comment about being a good listener, “If you want to talk to us, we can listen to you without any judgement,” shows me you have the right heart for it! Did you just recently discover that stuttering was a positive part of your life when you were talking with your friends, or did you have this realization earlier?

    • Hi Robert! Thank you for your kind words 🙂 I guess everything started when I accepted myself. After that, I realized the positive things! Of course, sharing this idea with my friends confirmed what I had thought. Thank you! 🙂

  9. Angelica, thank you so much for this heartwarming post! I agree with you 100% that it is so important to look at and share the positives that come from those who stutter!! I am currently enrolled in the Undergraduate program at my university for SLP. Right now I am taking an Intro to disorders of Communication class and we are learning about stuttering and I have enjoyed learning about stuttering very much. What is your greatest accomplishment with regard to stuttering?

    Thank you so much for sharing!!

    • Hi! I’m glad you will be a SLP and that you know already the importance of seeing the big picture! 🙂 About your question, I would say that is having a stuttering centre and help people who stutter and their families 🙂 I love my job 😀 Thank you!! With luck with your studies!!

  10. Hi Angelica!
    I really enjoyed reading the positive impacts stuttering has had on you. I am an SLP graduate student and have had the pleasure of working with a client who stutters. I wish I would have had your post to read with him! It is so easy to focus on the negative, and that is what most people seem to do on any topic. However, your outlook on what there is to gain through stuttering is so uplifting! So far in your coursework, is there anything regarding stuttering you have disagreed with personally?

    Thanks again for sharing!
    -Lyndsey

    • Hi Lyndsey! Yes, it is quite easy to see the negatives ones! But it is never too late to see the big picture 🙂 And, there is nothing wrong with stuttering itself! It is all about HOW people respond to it 😉 Stuttering is not bad, but bullying, discrimination and so on are!

      All the best to you on your clinical practice! 🙂

  11. I really enjoyed reading this! I am a freshman majoring in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology and we have discussed some areas where someone with any disability may experience some type of discrimination. I really enjoyed reading this because of the way you explained that it is okay to be different, there are many positives, and it gave me insight as to what difficulties and struggles someone may go through. I really appreciate you sharing your story!

    • Hi ! Thank you for your comment! Yes! There it is ok to be “different” 🙂 Thank you!!!

  12. Thank you for this, Angelica.
    Empathy and resilience, especially, are crucial and I can proudly say that these are two qualities I have built heavily thanks to being a person who stutters.
    You have great courage sharing your story. It made my day. Thank you.

  13. This was inspiring to read, thank you for sharing this! I love how you discussed the positives of stuttering that help to build such crucial components like empathy, resilience, and community. I am studying Speech Language Pathology as well, and I found your insights to be uplifting and powerful. Your comment about taking those experiences of others finishing your sentences or leaving before you are done speaking and turning that into a positive means of support when communicating with others truly resonated with me. I look forward to sharing and discussing your insights when working with people who stutter. Your clients will be lucky to work with you!

    • Hi Rose!! I’m so happy my little article help you in someway. I’m sure you will be a good SLP! 😀 And thank you for your kind words!! All the best to you! 🙂

  14. Thank you those welcoming words Angelica! I especially like what you said about being resilient! It is important for each of us (being a person who stutter-or lives with any other condition) to keep in mind that our conditions or differences do not have to hold us back.

  15. I really enjoyed your honesty and views on the impact that stuttering has on your life. It was inspiring to see the ways you changed something perceived as negative into a positive. I am currently and speech language pathology graduate student and I am taking a course on stuttering. Your story has given me a different perspective toward my future clients with stuttering. I really liked that you shared the specifics attributes that you have gained and how you can support your community!

    • I was also going to ask you if you have any advice for me to give my clients that will help them gain a positive outlook?

      • Hi !! thank you for your comment 🙂 On therapy, is crucial to work on the feelings and thoughts about their way to talk (and many other things!). Also, when the person is ready, is always a good idea that he/she can meet more people who stutter 🙂 Good luck on your clinical practice ! 🙂

  16. Hi Angelica,

    I really enjoyed reading about the positive impact that stuttering can have on individuals. I love seeing how stuttering has helped you to gain empathy, resilience, good listening, and community. In the field of speech-language pathology, these qualities are essential when helping clients. I wish you the best of luck in pursuing your degree as an SLP! It is the best! I graduate in May with my masters and I can’t wait!

    • Hello Steph!! Thank you !!! I can imagine must be exciting to be so close to your masters!! All the best!! 🙂

  17. Hi Angelica,
    Thank you so much for this incredibly important point. It is so interesting that as humans, when we go through certain challenges in life, we tend to generalize them and become aware of them forever. Challenges in life often make us better people and what you have mentioned here is exactly how. Individuals who stutter are unfortunately used to people not being empathetic or good listeners, so they in turn fill in those gaps, which is in fact very positive.

  18. Hello Angelica!

    I am currently studying to become a Speech-Language Pathologist and I really enjoyed reading this. I’m so glad you could see positive outcome that has come with stuttering. I was wondering what has influenced you the most in keeping such a positive mindset?

    • Hi!! Thank you!! It took me years to feel how I feel now! And there are many things that had influenced me such as listening stories, studying a lot, meeting people around the world and so on! Definitely can’t pick just one! haha 🙂

  19. Hi Angelica,

    Thank you for this because my brother had a stutter when he was younger but he mostly grew out of it. We tend to try and finish sentences and not actually pay attention to what they are saying. I am so glad you addressed this and how we should be good listeners and not interrupt and try to finish sentences. This was such a positive, amazing read and I am thankful you shared!

    • Hi!! Yes, you are right! We have to be good listeners while talking with others and we have to let them take their time to say what they want to say 🙂 Thank you!!

  20. Angelica, your post was very informative, and I enjoyed learning all of the good that has come from your experience with stuttering. I was drawn to your paper by your title because I wanted to learn your point of view on the positive impacts because as you discussed, society normally only discusses the negative outcomes that comes from stuttering so it was refreshing reading and learning about your experiences and your more positive take on stuttering, while indicating that it definitely still is not easy. It was inspiring to learn the positive impacts of a speech pathologist within the community to people who stutter, as I want to be a speech pathologist and am very interested in helping individuals who stutter. Thank you for providing your point of view on your personal experience with stuttering, I learned a lot!

    • Oh I’m so happy for this! Thank you for your kind comment! It’s important to listen and see the big picture of what stuttering really means. I’m sure you will be a good SLP!! Good luck with that!! 😀

  21. Your post was greatly informative. I am grateful to read this, because it gave me a different perspective on stuttering. I am currently in school to become a speech- language pathologist.I definitely feel like people with a stutter are very resilient. I have seen people with a stutter face their difficulties “in the eye” so to say, by following their dreams of becoming public speakers. This is great for SLPs to keep in the forefront of our minds to let our clients know they can follow all of their hearts desires. I enjoyed reading of how you see that your stutter has empowered you and others. Because to be empathetic and a great listener are great characteristics to have. Thank you for sharing your perspective with us.

    • Thank you so much!!! Indeed, people who stutter are capable of do whatever they (us) want!! 😀 Thank you!

  22. Hi Angelica,

    Thank you for putting into words what I have frequently thought myself. My grandmother is a PWS, and (as many children do) I thought she was the kindest, most wonderful person on the planet as a child. I always knew she would never rush me when I was telling her a story, which meant everything when I felt like other people just wanted me to finish talking. Additionally, I got to see her quietly stand up to others who did try to rush or interrupt her – she always finished whatever she was saying. Now that I’m older, when I look back I think how impressive it is that a five-foot tall old lady with a stutter wouldn’t let anyone push her around.

    I’m currently a graduate student for speech-language pathology myself (congratulations and good luck to you as you start the degree!), and I appreciate you pointing out that there are effects of having a stutter that are beneficial. I know now as I start to provide treatment and counseling to clients who stutter that I want to ask them how they think having a stutter has helped them grow as a person. I know you said that accepting yourself isn’t a one-day process – I also assume it is not a journey where you steadily feel better every day, and there are still days now where having a stutter can become frustrating. Do you have anything you do or tell yourself when you find that you’re becoming upset or resenting having a stutter?

    • Hi !!

      Thank you for sharing your story. I see you have learnt a lot from her and that’s awesome! 🙂 Definitely, that will help you in your clinical practice 😀 And, yes, acceptance is not a one-day process ! There are ups and downs which are part of this, and thats fine! It’s just part of it 🙂
      Now I don’t have days that I feel sad or upset for my stuttering, I really can say that I accept it fully 😀 However, there are days where I feel frustrated for SOCIETY and how some people can be. So, I have to keep working on educating people! 🙂

  23. Your strength and outlook on life is extremely inspiring!! I am a sophmore undergrad student studying speech pathology and I would love to know any advice you would have on how to help individuals, especially kids, see a positive outlook on having a stutter? Thank you for everything you shared! I really enjoyed reading it. 🙂

    • Hey thank you!!! Good luck with studies!! 🙂 About your question, one of favourite things to help children is to help them meet more kids who stutter 😀 and it is better if the other child has accepted her/his self already 😉 Of course, it is important to work on feelings and thoughts before that! 🙂 Thanks !!

  24. Highly inspiring is your strength and outlook on life!! I’m a graduate student studying speech pathology, and I would like to know any advice you would have on how to help people see a positive perspective on having a stutter, particularly children? Thanks for what you’ve posted!

    • Oh thank you !! Yes, there are several ways you can help them with that! meeting other children is one my favourites 🙂 Of course, you also have to be there to help them meet and to find things is common (like favorite sports, video games, and so on) 🙂 Thanks !