Speak The Change: Dynamic Nature of Stuttering Acceptance – Jack Rodriquez, Farzan Irani

Jack RodriguezAbout the Authors:

Jack Rodriguez is a senior in the Communication Disorders program at Texas State University. His personal experiences with stuttering inspired him to pursue a degree in Speech-Language Pathology. His research interest includes the psychosocial aspects of stuttering and is currently in the process of completing his Honors Thesis. He also serves as the president for the NSSLHA chapter at Texas State University. 

Farzan Irani

Farzan Irani is a Professor in the Department of Communication Disorders at Texas State University. His research interest is in the psychosocial aspects of stuttering, bilingualism and stuttering, and treatment outcomes of stuttering therapy. His passion is working clinically with adolescents and adults who stutter using holistic, evidence-based therapy.  

Growing up as a person who stutters, I have worked hard to change myself and my stuttering. Acceptance of stuttering is a key concept that served as a turning point in my personal stuttering journey. Since starting this journey of acceptance, I am fascinated by how my definition of acceptance continues to change. I will be sharing my personal journey with acceptance as a person who stutters and how my perception of acceptance has changed over time. Dr. Farzan Irani will provide insights as a clinician and discuss the importance of taking a client-centric and balanced approach as a clinician when it comes to stuttering therapy. 

My Journey of Acceptance – Jack Rodriguez

I have stuttered for as long as I can remember. My father stutters too. Around the age of four, I started to attend speech therapy for my stuttering. At the time, a major aspect of my therapy consisted of working on fluency, exclusively. I do not remember addressing the social, behavioral, and cognitive aspect of stuttering ever during my years of attending school-based therapy. At a young age our thoughts, beliefs, and values are shaped by our external environment and essentially drilled into us overtime. I feel the heavy emphasis my school-based speech therapy placed on fluency instilled anxiety, fear, and shame in me overtime because I was unable to prevent the inevitable stuttering disfluencies that arose. Every time I experienced more stuttering, I was told to work “harder” on my fluency techniques reinforcing the notion that I will not be successful or live a good life with a stutter. Growing up in an environment where everybody perceived stuttering as a taboo topic only amplified my shame towards my stutter and reinforced the feelings of worthlessness. As a young child, my primary coping mechanism was to do all I could to eliminate my stutter. I became a master covert stutterer all throughout my adolescence. My prime goal everyday was to hide my stutter under all circumstances. At that time, I viewed days that consisted of fluency and successful avoidance as “wins” and days where I stuttered frequently as a “loss.” Coping with the intensities of stuttering through constant avoidance of being my true authentic self-led to a lot of dark days that were defined by fear, doubt, shame, and worthlessness. I would experience extreme anticipation anxiety during every interaction. This persistent anxiety stemmed from my fear of being judged as a person who stutters. This fear prevented me from participating fully in everyday communication. I also feared the moments I had no control of my stutter. Ironically, the more I tried to control my stutter the more painful my physical concomitants were. Battling this beast was mentally and physically exhausting. It is safe to say that the word “acceptance” was foreign to me when it came to my stutter during my childhood and adolescence. 

Fast forward to 2018. I am in the spring semester of my freshman year at Texas State University. I was battling the growing pains of a major life transition moving away from my hometown. This led to the most severe period of stuttering I had ever experienced. Most days that semester, I could not produce a sound without experiencing 10- to 15-second-long intense blocks and repetitions. My secondary behaviors are what really amplified the painful experience of my stuttering. During this period in 2018, my body responded to my blocks and repetitions with severe tension in my face and my body to where I couldn’t breathe. I truly felt like I was being strangled. Experiencing this was pure hell. My dad, a fellow stutterer, knew that something had to be done and that I couldn’t live like this. So, he registered me for a two-week summer intensive stuttering program run by Dr. Farzan Irani at Texas State University. This therapy experience changed my life forever. It felt like the first breath you take above the surface after you have been drowning. In my case, I was drowning for 19 years. I shook hands with my stutter and gained an immense amount of acceptance and respect towards it. Before this therapy experience, I was unaware that accepting your stutter was even possible. So, the idea of stuttering acceptance was new to me, and I had the opportunity to define it in my own terms. My upcoming experiences played a critical role in my shifts in defining what stuttering acceptance means to me. 

The Dynamic Nature of Stuttering Acceptance

My experience at the intensive stuttering program led me to define stuttering acceptance as living your most authentic life by not letting stuttering hold you back from doing anything you want to achieve. As much as I still believe this definition holds true, my future experiences with stuttering demonstrated that my definition of acceptance needed to evolve and expand. Ever since my enlightening experience at the intensive program, I have exhibited a strong acceptance of my stutter. I have consistently stuttered overtly, tackled many difficult communication situations head on, and disclosed my stuttering to people I meet. This has all been life changing, but controlling my intense secondary behaviors was still a challenge for me. Although I would overtly stutter in nearly every communication situation, the stutter would often be accompanied with painful tension in the face, throat, and stomach. After the intensive stuttering program, my acceptance mindset was to let my stutter show and embrace everything about my stutter or at least tolerate it. I embraced my stutter openly, but only tolerated my painful secondary behaviors because this pain was a part of my stutter. As two years went on with this mindset, carrying this constant physical pain became a burden for me. I grew weary and tired of having to deal with my body taking a beating every time I stuttered. I was starting to relapse and fall back into my negative mindset and become a covert stutterer. The reason behind this was not because I did not accept my stutter, but it was merely to relieve myself of the constant physical pain my body was experiencing. I was tired of waking up in a constant pain cycle and being afraid to communicate. I knew I had to make a change. Why was I still experiencing physical struggle when I was at peace with my stuttering?

 I reached out to my mentor and professor Dr. Irani for guidance. We talked through what I was experiencing and both of us agreed that: (a) I do not need to accept physical pain to accept my stuttering; and (b) attending the intensive stuttering therapy program for the second time might be helpful. My second time attending the program was different due to my new mindset of acceptance of my stutter. To this point, I had felt very strongly and positive about being a person who stutters which equated to a strong level of acceptance. My own experiences with stuttering and learning from Dr. Irani and other pioneers in the stuttering field led me to develop my own personal values for stuttering therapy which include focusing on the mental and behavioral aspects of stuttering. One aspect of stuttering therapy that I do not agree with is working on fluency shaping exclusively. I feel deeply passionate about this due to my personal experiences with stuttering therapy as a school-age child. Also, my experiences volunteering at Camp Dream. Speak. Live at the Blank Center for Stuttering Education and Research at UT Austin with Dr. Courtney Byrd, the camp supervisors, and participants strengthened my stance on focusing on effective communication over fluency for stuttering therapy. My time volunteering for Camp Dream. Speak. Live was shortly before my intensive stuttering therapy program so my “anti-fluency” mindset was at an all-time high. This mindset led to some very interesting discussions with Dr. Irani and my graduate student clinician. I was nearly all in for Dr. Irani’s therapy plan for me, but I did have some reservations about using techniques for my stutter. In our discussions, I expressed that I did not like the idea of using techniques to prevent my stutter. In my mind, I saw this as a way of eliminating an important part of myself. I was worried about compromising my strong acceptance towards my stutter by using stuttering modification techniques. Dr. Irani explained thoroughly that the use of these techniques was not to eliminate the stutter, but to stutter easier and reduce the physical pain. In other words, he explained that these stuttering modification techniques can be used to combat the physical pain I was experiencing in response to my stutter. He also assured me that my stuttering acceptance did not have to be compromised to use these techniques. In this insightful discussion, the most notable thing Dr. Irani told me was “stuttering acceptance does not mean resigning to the physical pain that comes with it.” This simple statement had a major impact on my understanding of stuttering acceptance and further distinguishing acceptance from resignation. After hearing this, I realized that my recent struggles with stuttering was not the stutter itself, but the tension and physical pain I experienced when I stuttered. I have since experienced easier stuttering, and I could not be more thankful for the pain relief. Acceptance of stuttering does not have to hold me back from making meaningful changes to make stuttering less painful. I am excited to see what the next stop is in this journey of acceptance. 

A Clinician’s Perspective on Acceptance – Farzan Irani

As a student clinician who did not stutter, I learned about fluency shaping techniques, stuttering modification techniques and Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT; see Menzies et al., 2009; Prins & Ingham, 2009 for details). I also read about the concept of “acceptance” and its importance in stuttering management. Conversations with my colleagues and friends who stutter coupled with the latest research at the time (Menzies et al., 2008; L. Plexico et al., 2005; L. W. Plexico et al., 2010) shaped my clinical view on the limitations of fluency shaping. What really stood out was the unintended negative consequences for many, as Jack has elaborated above. This was the beginning of my journey (circa 2007-2008) in the application of “acceptance” to my repertoire of goals for stuttering therapy. In the beginning, my understanding and implementation of acceptance was limited – I considered it a goal, “I will help clients accept their stuttering through clinical activities and discussions.” While this view of acceptance is not inaccurate, I soon realized it was inadequate. There is more to acceptance than just teaching clients how to accept their stuttering. As Jack has discussed above, acceptance is a dynamic process. I no longer view it as a goal to accomplish, a “destination.” I now view acceptance as a “journey” that our clients undertake, and we are a part of it. It waxes and wanes, just like the stuttering behaviors do. We need to engage in difficult discussions about what acceptance means to each person at a certain time in their life – make room for this definition to evolve and adapt with the times. As with Jack, when acceptance was a new concept and he learned to accept his stuttering and himself as a person who stutters for the first time, that definition of acceptance helped him effectively manage his stuttering. Moving forward, while Jack continued to accept his stuttering, he also started to experience more secondary behaviors that were causing physical pain. During our discussions we realized the need to recalibrate and modify our definition of acceptance to ensure it was not impeding his ability to modify/reduce physical pain. We decided that acceptance of stuttering does not need to include acceptance of physical pain. Furthermore, acceptance does not preclude one from working on meaningful and desirable change, that is resignation. 

In conclusion, it is important for us to remember that healthy acceptance is a dynamic process that involves adapting to the current circumstances, building tolerance, and not allowing stuttering to dictate one’s life. 

 

References:

Menzies, R. G., O’Brian, S., Onslow, M., Packman, A., St. Clare, T., Block, S., O’Brian, S., Onslow, M., Packman, A., St Clare, T., & Block, S. (2008). An Experimental Clinical Trial of a Cognitive-Behavior Therapy Package for Chronic Stuttering. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 51(6), 1451–1464. https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2008/07-0070)

Menzies, R. G., Onslow, M., Packman, A., & O’Brian, S. (2009). Cognitive behavior therapy for adults who stutter: A tutorial for speech-language pathologists. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 34(3), 187–200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfludis.2009.09.002

Plexico, L., Manning, W. H., & DiLollo, A. (2005). A phenomenological understanding of successful stuttering management. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 30(1), 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfludis.2004.12.001

Plexico, L. W., Manning, W. H., & DiLollo, A. (2010). Client perceptions of effective and ineffective therapeutic alliances during treatment for stuttering. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 35(4), 333–354. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfludis.2010.07.001

Prins, D., & Ingham, R. J. (2009). Evidence-Based Treatment and Stuttering—Historical Perspective. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 52(1), 254–263. https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2008/07-0111)

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Comments

Speak The Change: Dynamic Nature of Stuttering Acceptance – Jack Rodriquez, Farzan Irani — 31 Comments

  1. Hello and welcome to ISAD 2021!

    This is a special time for the stuttering community so I’m grateful to be sharing this experience with you. Farzan and I are extremely passionate about the stuttering community so we are excited to share our work with you!

    We would love to hear any thoughts, questions, or concerns you may have from our paper. The purpose of this paper is to elicit dialogue on the topic of stuttering acceptance so we would love to hear from you!

    Thank you and stutter strong,
    Jack Rodriguez

  2. Jack and Farzan, Thank you for this piece. Beautifully expression of the dynamic and personal aspects of acceptance, change and the process.

    I also appreciate the collaborative piece – woven by each of you together.

    Perspective-taking.
    Problem-solving.
    Dynamic processes.

    Ingredients for success – everywhere.

    • Hi Uri,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read our work! We poured our heart into this because we believe this is an important aspect of stuttering therapy. As a person who stutters and an aspiring SLP, I really admire the work you do for the stuttering community. I’m a huge fan of the “Transcending Stuttering” podcast as well! Hope to meet you at a conference in the future!

      Stutter strong,
      Jack

    • Uri – thank you for taking the time to read and your positive comment 🙂 I appreciate all you do and enjoy listening to your podcast on my drive to work and back!

      Farzan

  3. Jack & Dr. Isani,

    Thank you so much for this piece! I absolutely loved reading it and hearing both of your experiences. In particular, Jack, I loved what you said about not wanting to work on fluency shaping techniques as that would take away an important part of yourself. If you don’t mind, I would love to share that sentiment with some of my students who stutter as I think it is such a valuable mindset to hold. Thank you also for coming to speak for our course on Fluency Disorders this morning and sharing the link to this paper!

    I especially appreciated hearing perspectives from both a clinician who does not stutter and a person who stutters who, despite negative experiences with speech therapy in the past, is pursuing a career as a clinician! If you don’t mind, I have a couple of questions for you both.

    First, I could not agree more with this new version or definition of “acceptance” that you espouse. As clinicians, how would you go about addressing the emotional aspect of therapy when the values you try to instill are conflicting with input the client is receiving from others? For example, how would you build confidence in a young child whose parents are encouraging them to always have smooth speech and condemning instances of “bumpiness”? Especially with school-age clients, it seems that well-intentioned parents or other adults often inadvertently instill values of covert stuttering or prioritize the appearance of fluency above all else.

    Further, Jack, you touched upon your disdain towards the exclusively use of fluency shaping techniques during therapy. While I wholeheartedly agree, I was wondering — are there any fluency shaping techniques that you endorse or have found helpful when used in tangent with addressing the emotional aspect as well? Dr. Irani, would you be able to give an example of one of the clinical activities you have utilized with clients on their journeys of acceptance?

    Thank you both so much again for your words! Excited for your career a an SLP, Jack, and to reading more of your work, Dr. Isani!

    • Dear /nickikim/,
      Thank you for the kind words and I am glad you found the paper helpful. Those are some great question and there is no single answer that all will agree on. To answer your first question about a child – my strategy has been (please keep in mind I would with 11 yrs and older) to first have a discussion with the parents. Explain stuttering to the parents, share information & resources with them and make sure they are on-board first. I also refer them to the wonderful podcasts we have available such as “stuttertalk” and the new Stuttering Foundation of America podcast. You are 100% correct, we will not make much progress toward our goals if the parents AND child both are not in agreement. Please also keep in mind, parents are step 1 – many children who stutter too will “just want it to go away” since it can lead to teasing and bullying and many young children also have unhelpful thoughts and feelings about their stuttering.

      Next, clinical activities for acceptance. Again, no single activity will work for all but there are many to choose from. For some clients, simply talking about stuttering and suggesting ideas such as disclosure and open stuttering will work wonders. Some clients might be very resistant to that concept at first, that is when I have found it best to just go outside in real life situations and let the client watch while I pseudostutter. Immediately process the situation and get the clients reactions and thoughts. See if they are willing to try to pseudostutter the next round – or would they like to watch you do it more? For teens we can play fun games – a big hit developed by some of my graduate students a few years back was “people bingo” where they went around campus and downtown asking people random questions to complete their bingo sheets – it became competitive and stuttering took a back seat. Ultimately, my preference over the years is to just go out and make talking fun – the best way to promote acceptance is by reducing the fear of stuttering/normalizing stuttering and making talking fun. I hope this helps.

      Regards,
      Farzan

    • Hi Nicki,

      Thank you so much for the kind words and taking the time to read our article! I would love if you shared that sentiment with your student. I think that is really important to hear as a person who stutters. I really enjoyed speaking to y’alls class!! I always love the opportunity to interact with future SLPs.

      That is such a thought provoking question! That is a tough situation because you want to tailor to the client’s and their families wants and needs. I think it’s important to have the instincts to engage in therapy activities that will spark the most change in the client. To answer your question more specifically, I think it’s important to meet with the parents and hear their perspectives first and then educate them on what stuttering is and explain that stuttering can be a strength and not a weakness. Further, you can explain that their child can achieve anything they want to with a stutter and possibly give examples of famous people who stutter. I would expect pushback from the parents initially since that stuttering is a such a sensitive topic. It’s important to be patient with them during this process.

      Great second question too! There are stuttering modification techniques that benefited me greatly in the past. It’s important to distinguish fluency shaping techniques and stuttering modification techniques. Fluency techniques aim to eliminate stuttering while modification techniques aim to modify the stuttering moment to stutter easier. These modification techniques have helped me combat painful secondary behaviors (blocks, repetitions, and prolongations). I think you can used stuttering modification techniques in tangent with addressing the emotional aspects of stuttering. You have to determine where the client is at in their journey but people who stutter like me greatly benefited from working on the emotional aspects of stuttering while also working on ways to stutter easier and not harder (experience painful secondary behaviors. I endorse the stuttering modification technique because the aim is not to make the client more fluent, but it’s a great technique to combat any painful secondary behaviors the client may be experiencing. It has immensely helped me out!

      Thank you again for your engagement with our paper! I really appreciate you making the effort to be apart of the change.

      • Thank you both so much for your words! I so appreciate the time you took in responding and the thoughtfulness with which you answered my questions. I look forward to implementing your advice and tips with future clients.

        All the best to you both!

  4. Hey Jack,
    I am one of the students from, Dr. Tsao’s class. After you spoke briefly about your experience in our class, I was immediately touched by your story. I immediately came to read more about you in this paper. Understanding that stuttering isn’t your whole identity is powerful, taking control over it shows great strength. It’s great to see we our lucky to have someone like you be in our field, especially another male! Thank you for sharing this and speaking at our class!
    Carlos

    • Hi Carlos,

      Thank you so much for your kind words and taking the time to read our article! It means the world to me that you were able to take something away from our article. I’m so excited to be joining this incredible field. I wish you the best of luck in journey of becoming an SLP!!

      Thank you,
      Jack Rodriguez

      • Jack,
        This article was hard for me to read because you were so vulnerable, but thank you for expressing how “hiding” your stuttering was doing to your life. Opening up may just help someone else realize that hiding it is actually hurting them. I am currently in graduate school to become a SLP, so this article has emphasized the need to be there for counseling as much as being there for actually therapy. I know each day has to be a struggle, but I am so glad to hear that you have grown as a person and this acceptance has freed you from this tension!

        • Hello,

          Thank you so much for reading our article! Your kind words mean the world to me. I am so glad that you took away important points from this article. I know there is a lot of power in vulnerability. I hope that my story will empower others who stutter. I wish you the best of luck in your journey in becoming an SLP! I know that you will be a great clinician for your clients who stutter 🙂

          Take care,
          Jack Rodriguez

  5. Hello Jack,

    I am one of the student’s from Dr. Tsao’s class. Thank you so much for speaking with us in class today. I am grateful that I found your article to read more about your experience and journey. Acceptance of your stuttering is something powerful and that changed your life and perspective. That is impacting and life changing. I wanted to ask if you could elaborate on what happened when you would feel physical tension due to the secondary behaviors? You talked about acceptance is important in class and I am interested to understand what else happened in your journey. You did not mention the physical pain and tension being a big aspect in class, so I would like to learn a little more about this.

    Thank you,
    Jena

    • Hi Jena,

      I’m so grateful that you took the time to read our article! That is a great question. When I experience secondary behaviors, my face, neck, and stomach tense up which can be very painful. The secondary behaviors are more painful when I’m trying to push through the stuttering moment. My most painful secondary behaviors make me feel like I’m being choked and locked in chains. In turn, I can’t breathe. This article explains all of that in more detail. My secondary behaviors have played a huge aspect in my journey of stuttering.

      Thank you again for engaging with our article!
      Jack Rodriguez

  6. Hello Jack and Dr. Irani,

    Thank you for sharing a wonderful and honest story of perseverance, self-love, and acceptance. I am one of the student’s from Dr. Tsao’s class, and when Jack shared this article in the chat, I knew I wanted to learn more about his experiences as a person who stutters.

    This paper offers insight from both client and clinician, and it is phenomenal to see these perspectives on stuttering treatment side-by-side in one paper. I especially liked how Jack personified his stutter, saying for the first time in 19 years, you shook hands with your stutter and “gained an immense amount of acceptance and respect towards it.” Portraying your stutter as a character makes it much less intimidating and paints a vulnerable and intimate portrait of stuttering as a part of oneself, rather than a part against. I also greatly appreciated Dr. Irani’s differential definitions between acceptance and resignation, since acceptance still allows and encourages work on meaningful change in one’s life. As clinicians, we aspire and strive for our clients to achieve acceptance and encourage our clients to live their fullest lives without feeling burdened by their speech disorders.

    Like healing, acceptance is not linear, and there will inevitably be days where it would be harder to accept ourselves. A question I have for both Jack and Dr. Irani is, how would you encourage clients to continue therapy during the more difficult days? Therapy can be a frustrating and challenging process for clients, and there will be days where a client feels as though they have not progressed in their treatment. As a future clinician, I would like to know of any strategies you recommend to help strengthen our clients emotionally and motivate them to continue their journey to acceptance.

    Thank you once again, and have a wonderful day!
    Sophia H.

    • Dear Sophia,

      Great question with regards to remaining motivated and building a strong therapeutic relationship. For me personally, I have found it important to get to know your client well and build a trusting relationship. With regards to “how would you encourage clients to continue therapy…” I would like to ask you counter-questions: should they continue therapy? Is it OK to have a bad day and just take a break – a break from working on stuttering but also a break from “accepting” their stutter? To me, answering those questions in instrumental. I think you can guess my answers – we are all human and at times we all need a break – sometimes it is OK to be mad, it is OK to not accept. Early on in my clinical journey I have been the “acceptance police” while simultaneously chastising the “fluency police” – fortunately with time I have come to realize the hypocrisy in that.
      To summarize – I encourage clients to work toward their goals, I do not force my views on them – I discuss options. Options include taking a break when necessary and knowing I will always welcome them back and we will pick up where we need to. This is my general approach *at this time* however, I modify as needed based on the individual client. I also offer and encourage all clients to attend support groups outside of therapy. I hope this helps.

      Regards,
      Farzan

    • Hi Sophia,

      Thank you so much for the taking the time to read our article! Thank you for your incredibly kind words as well. They mean the world to me. I know you will change a lot of lives as an SLP just based on your words “As clinicians, we aspire and strive for our clients to achieve acceptance and encourage our clients to live their fullest lives without feeling burdened by their speech disorders”. That is so powerful!

      That is a great question Sophia. There will inevitably be tough days in the stuttering journey so this is important question to keep in mind for all SLPs. I agree that therapy can be challenging when the results aren’t coming. I think working on fluency exclusively can make one more prone to a situation like this. Mainly because a client may be set up for failure if their strict goal is to eliminate the inevitable stuttering dysfluencies. Of course this can be frustrating because the client is trying to use their fluency shaping techniques but stuttering still may occur. I think a more realistic goal for people who stutter is to address aspects that they have complete control over. For example, focusing on effective communication and seeking out difficult speaking opportunities is more sustainable compared to producing fluent speech. I have personally experienced how powerful these behaviors can me. Doing hard things may be uncomfortable, but when you push yourself to do those hard things you feel this sense of strength, freedom, and confidence in yourself. So specifically to answer your question, I would remind the client that stuttering is a journey and that it’s completely normal to experience challenges. Another thing I would do is remind the client how far they have come in developing their communication skills and the resilience they have acquired by tackling communication situations head on. Hearing this reminder may be exactly what the client needs to boost their confidence and keep them going in therapy.

      Thank you so much for gaining with our work!
      Jack Rodriguez

  7. Hi,
    Thank you so much for sharing your stories! I am an SLP graduate student and am currently taking a fluency class. Our class talks a lot about acceptance, and it was very enlightening to hear your dynamic relationship with acceptance. I loved how you you talked about working on acceptance and strategies to help with the physical pain. I learned so much from this!

    • Hi Savannah,

      Thank you so much for reading our article! I’m so glad you were enlightened to read about my dynamic journey with acceptance. I’m also so glad that you learned a lot from this article as a future SLP. Our main goal was to show SLPs that it’s important to take a holistic approach to stuttering therapy. I wish you the best of luck in your journey of becoming an SLP! I know that you will provide great service to your future clients who stutter.

      Take care,
      Jack Rodriguez

  8. Hello, my name is Kaitlin Campbell, and I am a graduate student at Stephen F. Austin State University. First, I would like to say thank you both for sharing your experiences and personal journey. I enjoyed reading the perspective of acceptance from two different points of view. I enjoyed how the article discussed acceptance as a dynamic relationship rather than just a goal/destination. When reading the article, one question came to mind: how can we discuss/teach acceptance as clinicians when working with younger-age children?

    Thank you,
    Kaitlin Campbell

    • Hi Kaitlin,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read our article! So glad that you liked reading about our perspectives on the dynamic process of stuttering acceptance. That is a great question that Dr. Irani will most likely answer better than me! I would say that it’s important to not make the child perceive stuttering as a bad thing. This can be done through educating the child about what stuttering is in a way that makes sense to them. As I mentioned in the article, my therapy as a child unintentionally was presented in a way that made me feel negative about my stutter. It’s important to navigate away from this because what you experience as a child is usually instilled in your overtime. In my case, those negative thoughts about my stutter have followed me to this day. So I think it’s important to let kids who stutter know early that stuttering is ok and it can be a special part of them if they allow it. Hope this answer helps! Best of luck on your journey in becoming an SLP.

      Take care,
      Jack Rodriguez

  9. Thank you, Jack, for sharing your story so candidly! Thank you, Farzan, for sharing your growth as a clinician, which helps fuel our growth as clinicians. I too have become more and more intrigued by this phenomenon called “acceptance” and the realization that it’s truly a dynamic and lifelong process. Jack, I am delighted that our field is gaining another SLP who stutters!

    Ana Paula

    • Hi Ana,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read our article! Your kind words mean a lot to me and Farzan. I’m so eager to make a difference in the stuttering community as a future SLP and person who stutters!

      Take care,
      Jack Rodriguez

  10. Hi Jack & Dr. Irani,

    Thanks for the interesting paper!! I really appreciate learning my about Jack’s experience going through speech therapy in elementary school and your journey of acceptance.

    • Hi Lauren,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read our article! I’m so glad that you appreciated learning about my stuttering journey.

      Take care,
      Jack Rodriguez

  11. HI Jack and Dr. Irani

    Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about your experiences and how both you have this goal and interest in research in providing “acceptance” and changing the social aspect in stuttering. I feel that this research and advocacy is going to provide growth in this field that I one day wish to become apart.

    • Hello,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read our article! I agree with you that research and advocacy will help clinicians provide effective therapy for people who stutter. Best of luck on your journey of becoming an SLP!

      Take care,
      Jack Rodriguez

  12. Jack and Dr. Irani,

    Thank you for devoting so much of your time for the field of stuttering. As a senior in my undergrad in Communication Disorders and a person who stutters as well, I deeply relate to all of the emotions and anxiety stuttering can bring on to someone. I remember when I was a little girl and I would cry at night just begging God to please just fix me to now where I openly talk about my stutter and journey to self-acceptance. To this day, I still can not bring myself to watch my home videos when I was a child. My heart just aches for that little girl I once was. I want to become an SLP and help kids who stutter and show them that they are going to be okay. I truly believe that we are going to be the generation that gets to make huge changes in the world of stuttering for the better.

    I wish you both the best on all your future endeavors!

    Best,

    Carlie

    • Hi Carlie,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read our article! I’m so glad that you are pursuing a degree in speech language pathology as a person who stutters! You will make such a big impact on the stuttering community. Thank you for sharing apart of your stuttering journey with me. I whole heartedly agree with you that we will be apart of an incredible generation that will change the world for people who stutter. Best of luck in the application process and your journey of becoming an SLP!

      Take care,

  13. Hi Jack and Dr. Irani,

    Thank you for sharing your story! I was amazed by how your view of stuttering changed; from how you initially saw days where you did not stutter or avoided stuttering as successful to how you were against fluency techniques and then to how you could use fluency techniques to help relieve pain while still accepting your stutter. Your story and journey of acceptance is inspiring and informative and it highlights the importance of a holistic approach to therapy.

    Best,
    Amanda

  14. Hi Jack and Dr. Irani,

    I really enjoyed this piece and seeing the perspectives of a person who stutters and a clinician. I participated in therapy for a short time as an adult (about 18 months) and as Jack notes, I became very disillusioned with the primary goal being fluency shaping and very little or no effort to help me deal with conflicting emotions.

    I had (happily) reached a point where I no longer wanted shame to make most of my decisions and I wanted to just stutter, and be accepted wholeheartedly as a person who stutters. The student clinicians I worked with did not seem ready or able to focus on anything that lies beneath the surface of stuttering. It felt really obvious to me that the students were trying to fulfill their class requirements and didn’t want to deviate from counting stutters and having me read silly passages.

    Since then (2007-2008) I’ve become very active in the stuttering community and have met many SLPs who have more person centered views of therapy goals.

    I am glad to read that you are both advocates of acceptance.

    Jack – did the experience at the intensive fluency program include anything beyond fluency shaping? I’ve heard that many people leave those programs very fluent and then find that the long fought for fluency doesn’t transfer over into the client’s world.

    Pam

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