Relationships from Stuttering – Hideo Tatsukawa

About the Author:

Hideo Tatsukawa – I am a former Japan Stuttering GENYUKAI Association president and now a director of the Kyushu area. I have been in GENYUKAI for 20 years.

My family is a wife who is a former GENYUKAI member, but not a person who stutters and a son. My son has a little infantile paralysis on his right side. At home, we usually talk about stuttering and disability. My motto for life and stuttering is what is interesting, not what is right or wrong! I want to enjoy my stuttering life with many people.

I started to be conscious of my stuttering in the third grade. It became difficult to breathe because of the involuntary symptoms caused by blocking. Everyone around me seemed surprised. They laughed at me, and that made me feel bad, but I kept being socially active. For example, I belonged to the Kendo club from elementary school to high school, and I also got the opportunity to be the class representative, where I had to speak every time a class started. I stuttered many times, but I didn’t feel guilty. With some friends from school, I still have good friendships and can talk about stuttering and the support group, Genyukai.

After I entered the caregiving workplace, although there was a wave of stuttering symptoms, I was able to do my work, such as, responding to calls, in-house announcements, and communicating with family and colleagues. I also had the opportunity to make a presentation at the workplace within the time limit. I hated myself because I felt like I couldn’t do it well, but thanks to the cooperation of others, I managed to make the presentation. Looking back at my life so far, although there was a wave of stuttering symptoms, I tried to do my best, and people around me helped me.

My mother searched “Genyukai” on the internet, which was a major turning point. The first time I joined the meeting of Genyukai, I was so shocked to know that there are many people like me! They treated me so kindly that I continued to attend the meetings. There, I met many people who had the same hobbies as me, and people of various occupations who I probably never would have met outside of Genyukai. The most important thing is that I met my wife. The best thing I got in Genyukai was relationships. They told me various ways to cope with stuttering. Despite my difficulties with stuttering, talking about my experiences reduced their power over me and gave me the ability to do the things that I wanted to do in my life.

Throughout the activities in Genyukai, I found that I had many things in common with the other members. A senior member shared the idea that “The stuttering problem is related to human relations,” and I agreed with that. We sometimes collided with each other because of our different ways of living and stuttering, but I was able to achieve a sense of unity and feel joy. I also had a lot of experience with building relationships through stuttering. I live my life with a lot of help, although there are some ups and downs. 

There is a limit to the suffering that a person’s heart can bear, and frustration, suffering, and sorrow may eventually weigh so much that they can be too much. I think that I am now supported by my workplace, friends, family, and friends from Geniyukai. There are limited things you can do alone. If it becomes difficult, please ask for help. Someone can help. I want to say, I’m here, too. I would like to continue to think about “supporting people who stutter for their happiness.”


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Relationships from Stuttering – Hideo Tatsukawa — 14 Comments

  1. I totally agree with the phrase: “The stuttering problem is related to human relations”. I believe the reactions of the people is the real problem, not the stuttering. So we need to spread awareness!
    Congratulations! I enjoyed reading your story! 🙂
    Regards from Peru

    • Thank you for your comment from Peru. Thank you for agreeing that the stuttering problem is related to relationships. I think that as for awareness, knowing stuttering first leads to understanding. I will continue to do what I can.

  2. Hideo thank you for this wonderful piece! I love this part: “There are limited things you can do alone. If it becomes difficult, please ask for help.”

    That is such a critical realization because it is through the support of others whether it be our stuttering support groups, mental health therapists, mentors and career coaches, friends / family, etc. that can help us reach our full potential and get through challenging times.

    I would love to talk to you more as I actually started and am Head of SMBC’s Disabilities Employee Resource Group called UNIQUE in New York City so share the same passion as you do for disabilities that your son has.

    I know you know SMBC well being one of the largest banks in Japan and so would love to speak with you more to hear about what the awareness of stuttering is like in Japan and the kind of support systems available. Let me know how best to reach you!

  3. Hello Hideo,
    I think it is great that you are striving to help others who may be having similar experiences that you shared. Thank you for your great story!

  4. Hello Hideo,

    It is so wonderful to read your story and see how you transformed your life and in the process, have now transformed so many other lives.

    It really does take courage and resilience to share our personal journeys with that world. And often, we do without any idea how we will have impacted someone with our words or actions.

    Thank you so much for contributing to ISAD 2020.


    • Hello Pam Thank you for your feedback. I couldn’t recover by myself. I would like to continue working with a lot of help.

  5. Hideo,
    You made a groundbreaking point by mentioning that you did not let your stutter rule your life and take over its course. I love that you illustrate this in such a positive manner. Often times, stuttering has such a negative connotation attached to it and people stray away from facing what it is. It truly can be transformational in nature and allow for growth in areas of life that were maybe once unimaginable.
    Thanks for sharing your side of the story!

  6. Hi Hideo,
    Thank you for sharing your story! It is moving and personal, and I know it takes tremendous courage to share these kinds of personal experiences with others. I am a graduate student currently studying to become a speech-language pathologist, and learning from personal journeys like yours is an important way to help SLPs better understand the challenges and perspectives of individuals who stutter so that we can find the best ways to provide support.

    Your story eloquently shares how personal empowerment can be supported with relationships and community. More and more, I am learning how individuals who stutter may feel isolated, and that the moment of realization that there are others in this community going through similar challenges can be both surprising and life-changing. It is inspiring to see that you ask for and received help when needed, and that you in turn offer that support to other people who stutter. Thank you again for sharing your experiences and insights!

  7. Hello! I loved reading your story, and I especially loved seeing how you began to feel power within yourself to not allow your stutter to be what defined you. I am only a freshman undergrad studying to be an SLP, but I know people in my life who stutter and hearing stories like this is what pushes me to want to pursue this career even more!

  8. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s so important for people to see things from other people’s perspectives because often people are too focused on themselves. Peoples reactions to people who are different from them is too often negative. You have overcome so many challenges in your life.

  9. Hello! I loved reading your story, it was so thoughtful and well put together. It is amazing how you want to help others through this. I loved how you mentioned how there is a limit to the suffering a persons heart can bear. This is so true because one person can only go through so much pain. Do you feel as if your mother never found Genyukai for you that your life would be significantly different? Thank you for sharing your story!

  10. Hideo,

    Your submission makes me consider how much a community of support is necessary when we feel different or alienated from the people around us. It sounds like Genyukai really made a lasting impression in your life (especially since you met your wife there!) as you were able to find affinity with people who shared similar experiences as you.

  11. So happy you share your journey, as you show the way towards friendship, understanding and togetherness. I hope that your paper bring others to find Genyukai and share the strength of a national stuttering association.

    Stay safe and keep talking