What We Wish to See as Speech Therapists in Latin America – Maria Fernanda Tamagnone, Cynthia Dacillo

Maria Fernanda TamagnoneAbout the Authors:

Maria Fernanda Tamagnone is a Speech Therapist in Argentina. Dedicated to the clinical approach to stuttering since 2013, when she met and trained in the Argentine Association of Stuttering, in which she is currently a collaborator as part of the commission dedicated to education on stuttering in the school environment. She works in the city of Córdoba in an integrated work team: Disfluencia Córdoba, dedicated to individual therapy in all ages and group spaces in which young people, parents and families participate.

 

Cynthia Dacillo

Cynthia Dacillo is a speech therapist from Peru. She became passionate about stuttering since 2015, when she finished a stuttering specialization. She has a master degree in Neuroscience and Education. Cynthia works with young, teenagers and adults who stutter and their families.  She enjoys reading, listening, meeting and learning from stories of people who stutter.

Stuttering is a complex condition that is unknown and misunderstood by the society and even by professionals such as pediatricians, neurologists, psychologists and teachers. 

As speech therapists there are so many changes we wish to see. At the same time, we feel happy about all the changes that have taken place over the last years and also excited about what changes we know we will see in the future. 

Then, what specific changes we would like to see in the stuttering field?

What changes would Cynthia like to see? 

As a speech therapist from Peru working with people who stutter, there are some changes I would like to see:

1. There is a need of professionals specialized in stuttering in Latin America, to have access to new and based evidence information in Spanish.

New information, books, researches, congress, training courses, podcasts, videos and resources, much of these is available in English.  I believe not many speech therapists are able to understand English and that can be a big barrier between the new knowledge and clinical practice. 

In addition, more research is needed considering the Latin America´s perspective and experience. There is so much to do and so many incredible speech therapists from the Spanish speaking world who can contribute to the general knowledge. It’s vital to encourage therapists to conduct research in the field. 

2. Stuttering seen in the Media and in Schools. 

It might be a good way to spread the word about stuttering in ways that it is seen as a difference in the speech, rather than something to feel embarrassed, ashamed or guilty. Education is a powerful weapon against myths, discrimination and bullying, so massive education is needed.

Schools should open their doors to stuttering specialists to talk about stuttering inside the class, and the same with students with other conditions. That way, students will learn about it and we can have a friendlier society. 

Furthermore, Media should incorporate some programs to educate about diversity, or include some notes in some television programs to show testimonials of people with different conditions such as stuttering and how they overcame the barriers of society,the barriers and not the stuttering itself! Because the real barriers are the reactions and social stigma of the people around them.

3. Stuttering taught in the universities as a difference and not as something to “be fixed”

When we studied, we were taught that there is something abnormal or incorrect in the speech of people who stutter. As students, we saw it as a “problem” and in our clinical practice our treatments were under that line .  Nevertheless, through the experience and learning from their stories we realized that there is nothing wrong in stuttering and one of our roles must be helping people who stutter find their own voices and enjoy communication.

If we all change this idea, we will be taking a very big step. As therapists, undoubtedly, is something that will definitely turn 360 degrees the goals in our therapy.  

What changes would M. Fernanda like to see?

As a speech therapist working with people who stutter in Argentina, I have found that working together is an integral part of the therapeutic process, and this certainly has shaped my wishes for the future.

1. Bringing communities together (speech therapists and people who stutter)

Many Speech-Language Pathologists and People Who Stutter work together. It is in the deep encounter that we can truly learn. There is no other way. Stuttering has a different meaning for all of us and it’s in shared discovery that we can teach each other. I would like to see communities learning together with opportunities to grow, to understand, to educate and to evolve.

2. To support and promote the changes that the community of people who stutter is generating.

The community of people who stutter is generating changes, it would be enriching (and a duty as allies) to learn about it, be interested and collaborate.

Validating processes of change and the hard work behind those changes, makes us grow in our abilities to understand, and respond to stuttering.

It also makes us, as therapists, resist the impulse to tell the others what to do and give them instructions without asking them about their hopes. We need to make a commitment with them, to encourage us to go deeper into human experiences.

3. The speech therapist we want to become

We find ourselves in this journey that is not only multidimensional for the person who stutters, but also for us, as learners. 

If we want to see a change, our “therapist self” must be willing to step out of the comfort zone, examine assumptions and to consider new perspectives.
Moreover, working in therapeutic processes with people who stutter pushes us to grow in concrete skills, and that is not negotiable if we want a better place.

 

What are we trying to do currently for the stuttering field in our countries?

We believe change starts by recognizing where we are and what we can do to move forward.  As speech therapists being passionate about stuttering, one of our goals is to make the world a better place for people who stutter. 

 

Bridging the gap between the “Spanish and English world”. 

  • We share information in Spanish about stuttering from books, articles, training courses, congress (we read or hear in English) in our professional facebook and Instagram accounts (@disfluenciacba and @cynthiadacillo.tartamudez).
  • Cynthia  creates content with Spanish subtitles in her youtube channel, where invites speech therapists and people who stutter from different countries. 
  • Fernanda translates some articles into Spanish and share them in her Instagram account. This is a way some therapists can have access to valuable and new information in Spanish.

 

What else?

Meeting Franky Banky

One day we met Franky Banky and his ferocious tiger that little by little became a friendly pet. We were touched by his process with this beast that scared him and that he had to face, even though it hurts.

Daniele Rossi’s work facilitates natural and accurate language when talking about stuttering, a way that is sometimes hard to find. And here is Franky Banky, telling his adventures and stuttering beautifully… what could be more inspiring?

We loved the way he shows stuttering, so that’s why we offered our help translating some of his comics. Firstly, to use them as therapeutic resources with children, teenagers and adults who stutter and their families! Then, that idea ended in the Spanish version of the Franky Banky website! If you are a therapist from the Spanish speaking world, you and your clients will really enjoy it! you can take a look at https://www.frankybanky.com/es/.

To conclude, there is so much we would like to see: information for Latin America speech therapists, stuttering in the Media, stuttering being taught as a difference and not as something wrong, communities of people who stutter and therapists together, supporting achievements of people who stutter and working in the “therapist self”.  And, as it was mentioned before, there are a lot of passionate people around the world that are already doing some change! Let’s keep working for a better place for people who stutter! We can make a huge difference!

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Comments

What We Wish to See as Speech Therapists in Latin America – Maria Fernanda Tamagnone, Cynthia Dacillo — 30 Comments

    • Hello dear Tricia,
      Thank you for reading, it was nice to read your comment 🙂
      We wish so much, so we are going to work the same way.
      Regards,
      Cynthia

  1. Hello! I am very interested in stuttering and/in different languages.
    If other countries (Spanish speaking ones specifically) had the resources that we have here in regards to the amount of speech therapist, and more translated articles for EBP, etc. Do you believe that may significantly help the stuttering community? I question if culture will play a part, because as a minority, my mother asked what was “wrong” with me when I stuttered.

    • Thank you for reading!

      Indeed, if we have more EBP and resources things will change for our stuttering community.
      As a minority, we need more awareness to change the idea that “stuttering is wrong”.

      Regards from Peru,
      Cynthia

    • Hello! thank you very much for your comment. Oh I am sure that up-to-date, accurate and concrete information will always be a great help to the stuttering community, considering that many surveys, research and data come from people who stutter. We know where we would like to go breaking down frontiers, we must find the way to do it.

  2. Bravo! And I’m not saying that because of the Franky Banky mention 😉 Great to have been able to witness the change you both have been making across South America!

  3. Maria Fernanda and Cynthia,
    I really enjoyed reading about the ways each of you is making a difference in Argentina and Peru to treat people who stutter and the community at large. Thank you for sharing your story, it is inspiring.
    As a future bilingual SLP (Spanish-English), I can relate to the frustration regarding the lack of evidence based studies that are available to the Spanish speaking population. As well at the fact that very few, if any, studies are normed with Spanish speakers. Do you see yourself conducting research in the future in order to bridge this gap that exists in the research world? Also, when you educate the general population about people who stutter do you find that they are receptive to what the research says? I ask this because being Latin American myself I know the stigma that is placed on people who stutter and the disbelief that outsiders place on what the research says.

    Thanks in advance,
    Adriana

    • Dear Adriana,

      I am so happy you read our article! Tell us where are you from! I am excited to hear about a bilingual therapist!

      When I studied for my masters degree I did a research. If you want to read about it, I wrote a bit in the previous ISAD virtual conference:
      https://isad.isastutter.org/isad-2020/papers-presented-by/research-therapy-and-support/what-did-i-learn-from-your-journeys-and-what-can-we-do-to-make-our-journeys-enjoyable-cynthia-dacillo-senega/
      It is vital to have more research in Spanish!

      Regarding your second question, in my case, when I educate parents of kids who stutter, at first they seem confused due to the myths around stuttering, but then they understand about it and participate actively in the therapy sessions.
      If we talk about the general population, in some opportunities I have delivered with my clients, some information in stores about stuttering and they were very empathetic.

      Thank you for your questions! I believe that you are going to become an amazing speech therapist!!

      Kind regards,

      Cynthia

    • Hi Adriana! Nice to read you.
      It is always a joy to read and get in touch with people interested in stuttering, spreading the word and educating, so thank you very much for commenting and sharing what you do.
      In my experience, many times when I work with teens and adults who stutter I use the evidence to think together, discuss and find the value in those things that present huge challenges for people who stutter. I give educational talks to teachers and the evidence is always present in everything I share, I personally believe, should guide us.
      thank you again! Happy to be in touch

  4. First off, I want to thank both of you for taking the time to share this information because I also find it very important. I found this article extra interesting due to the fact that in less than a year, I will identify as a bilingual SLP and think about my future clients who will come to me seeking help due to their disfluencies. Cynthia’s third point was my favorite one in that I think about this all the time. Before beginning graduate school, I viewed stuttering as a “bad” and “embarassing” thing instead of a difference. I never took the time to view it as anything other than that and I did not find my professors taking the time to teach us any different either. It’s ironic though, because one of the main things I learned during my undergraduate career was to know the difference between a dialectal difference and a language disorder and how important it is to not over identify individuals because of that. It makes me wonder why the same energy could not be put into explaning that in terms of stuttering. Because at the end of the day, stuttering and a dialectal difference are both just difference. I also agree with Maria in that to reach our most potential as speech therapists, we have to put in the work and provide the most efficient and reliable sources for our clients. I appreciate the time both of yall have put into this area of our field and I hope improvements continue to present themselves as time and technology improve.

    • Thank you very much for reading and your kind words!

      Congratulations! you will soon enjoy helping and guiding others in their journeys and you will learn a lot from them!! It is nice to know that a future bilingual SLP like you is interest in stuttering! I wish I have found this amazing page when I was studying! hehe 🙂

      Yes! just a difference! if we see it that way, our clients and their families will see stuttering the same way. If we see it as “something wrong”, “a mistake” “something to be fixed” or “something to be ashamed of” they will also see it that way!! so we have a huge responsibility!!

      By the way! we also have the Spanish version of this article!

      https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UtDXrKs0iLjFSil5kMm7IxieuATH2dhg/view?usp=drivesdk

      Kind regards
      Cynthia 🙂

    • Hello! Thank you very much for your comment, I am so glad that you have identified with our article.
      As for how to teach about stuttering in university spaces; frankly I think, passion and continuous and close work with people who stutter is what puts us on track; and unfortunately that is achieved when we start our practice. But let’s go for it!

  5. This article is fantastic! I am an undergrad in communication disorders whose first language is Spanish and I found your writing very useful. I also agree that there needs to be more research done on the Spanish-speaking population because stuttering is universal – not just in English. I know stuttering is stigmatized in the Latin countries, probably much more than in the United States. For this reason, I think we could all benefit from seeing stuttering research done in various populations. Maria Fernanda & Cynthia, keep doing what you’re doing because it is fantastic work!

    • Dear Martha,

      Thank you very much! We need more committed therapists as there is so much to do!!!
      As we wrote, there are many things we wish to see but there are also amazing things happening around the world regarding stuttering!
      I am very glad you read our article!

      Best wishes,
      Cynthia

    • Hi Martha!

      Thank you for your encouraging comment!
      We really enjoy what we do and there are many people in Latin America who are very committed to stuttering education. We are confident that this passionate work will make a difference!

  6. Hello Fernanda and Cynthia!

    As a Mexican-American woman myself, I found your paper inspiring. I spent a lot of my younger years struggling with my identity, never feeling “Mexican” enough. However, I have realized that being bilingual is incredibly useful in helping clients and bridging the gap between the “Spanish and English worlds.” And so, I have recently placed effort in becoming closer to my cultural roots, such as learning Spanish and listening to music in Spanish. I am even planning to visit my dad’s hometown next summer! As a student studying to become an SLP, I want to enter the field knowing I can make valuable change and help others regardless of language barriers.

    My question for you is, how present are SLPs in Latin American schools? If SLPs are in schools, do you believe that would allow parents to be more aware of SLPs as a valuable resource for their child?

    Thank you so much again, and buenas noches!

    Sophia H.

    • Dear Sophia,

      Thank you for reading and sharing your experience! As some people say, being part of two cultures make someone able to have the best of both worlds!! (Spanish and English worlds) <3

      Here in Peru, there are speech therapists but not in all the schools, we can find them in Special Education schools, personalized schools and in kindergardens. We rarely see them in elementary, middle and high school.
      And yes! I am sure that if there were more SLPs in schools parents and also teachers would be more aware to identify someone who stutters or with some other speech and language difficulties.

      ¡Muchas gracias y éxitos en todo!

      Cynthia

  7. Buenos días, Fernanda y Cynthia!

    Thank you so much for this paper — I loved reading your thoughts and recommendations! Do you have any recommendations specifically for parents of Spanish-speaking or Spanish-English bilingual children on the topic of stuttering? Also, how would you approach a conversation with parents who may have a negative predisposition towards or live within a negative cultural stigma towards stuttering?

    Another brief question — I was wondering if you have any culturally-pertinent or culture-specific therapy techniques that you have found to be successful when working with students who stutter. I have a few students of Latin American heritage and would love any suggestions on how to better care for them clinically!

    All the best. Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts!

    Nicki

    • Hi Nicki,

      Thank you very much for reading! 🙂
      Well, I consider that the first step is to educate both (parents and children) about what stuttering is and then discover together what is the best for them. I say “them” because we need to see the whole family and not just the kid who stutter.

      In Spanish-English bilingual children I suggest to practice in both languages! I think it will be helpful.

      With parents with a negative stigma, it is vital create opportunities to listen to other´s stories. So, an idea can be to invite adults who stutter to share their experience and to let parents notice that stuttering is not bad and will not stop their children to accomplish their goals.

      Regarding your last question, I believe every family and client is unique so, I think there is no one-fits all approach and for me, there is no specific therapy technique. It is important to know what they need and what we can offer 🙂

      Thank you for all your questions! I hope this can help!

      Cynthia

  8. Maria and Cynthia, thank you for writing this. I’m a graduate student in speech-language pathology in the United States at Idaho State University and it’s fascinating to get a peek at the lives of SLPs in Peru and Argentina. It was educational to see how approaches to stuttering therapy are so similar between our two hemispheres. For example, having the main focus of therapy be on increasing self-acceptance and decreasing stigma.

    As someone who speaks Spanish, I was especially excited to see you all helped bring Franky Banky to Spanish speakers! We learned about Franky Banky in my fluency class a few weeks ago. I love how that comic portrays stuttering as a scary tiger that becomes Franky Banky’s companion once he’s not afraid of it anymore. It’s a fun, relatable analogy for children and really brings stuttering to life for people who don’t stutter like me.

    As a native English speaker from the US, I was wondering if you could give some advice on how to ask people how they self-identify. As you probably already know, there has been a big push here in the US to use “person first” language for the past several decades. For example, saying someone is a “person who stutters” instead of a “stutterer”. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion in English-speaking stuttering research saying that some individuals prefer “stutterer” or simply not self-identifying with stuttering at all to better reflect their relationship with stuttering. In your experience, how have people you have worked with chosen to identify? I know it’s the patient’s choice, but I definitely want to avoid using any terminology that would be outdates and possibly offensive. I would love to know the Spanish terminology if you’re willing to share.

    Thank you again for sharing your perspective. Your wishes for change resonated with what I hope to achieve as an SLP.

    • Dear @vidalanda,

      Thank you very much for reading! I am so happy to know some SLPs have read about our wishes! 🙂

      I can say that most of the clients I know prefer to use “person who stutters”, however, some of them (specially when they begin their therapeutic process) use the word “stutterer”. As you mentioned, it is their choice and in both cases as therapists we should call them with respect (“person first”) even though they call themselves in a different way. Our words matter and the way we talk about stuttering is essential in the process.

      Regards from Peru,
      Cynthia

  9. Hello!

    This was so beautifully written! I completely agree that change starts with who we are. The fact of the matter is.. there is a lack of diversity within our field, therefore our POC clients are going to be affected by it.

    How do you think we can encourage more bilingual and/or POC to become involved in this field?

    Suzanne Perez

    • Hi @suzanneperez
      Thank you very much for reading!
      Well, I believe it is important to share with them our experiences with people who stutter and how they evolved during the process, that may encourage more therapists to become more interested in stuttering 🙂
      We can also share with them some resources from instagram or facebook accounts or some useful websites to make it easier!

      Regards,
      Cynthia

  10. As a graduate student working to be an SLP, I really enjoyed this paper and completely agree with so many of the points made! Several of your points are topics we have discussed in courses, especially the point of continuing to be a learner everyday in our profession. The point of the change starting with us is so true, and thankfully being more realized in society today.

    • Hi @kathrynwallace,
      Thank you for reading! We need to work on the changes we want to see 🙂 So it is our responsibility to take part of it!
      Happy ISAD!

      Cynthia

  11. Hi Maria Fernanda and Cynthia,
    I really enjoyed reading your article and as a bilingual undergrad majoring in COMD, you both are truly inspiring for all that you are doing in the field. I agree that it’s nice to see that changes have occurred however, there is still a lack of research when it comes to Latin America’s perspective and experience. Why do you think this is ?
    – Angeles Flores.

    • Hi,
      Thank you for reading!
      Well, I guess the lack of information about stuttering is one of the reasons. Unfortunately we do not have enough information in Spanish so it is hard to do research about it. On the other hand, some therapists are very passionate about it and despite the lack of information are working for more research in the stuttering field!! sooo much to do!
      Kind regards and happy ISAD!
      Cynthia

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