Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tell this to a 3-year old

At conferences, I sometimes hear people proclaiming that stuttering has been a gift and inspiration to them. The process of overcoming stuttering has made them stronger and wiser human beings. Indirectly they thereby question my "obsession" with understanding stuttering. Yet others tell me that they are not the least interested why they stutter. Their rationale is: "I stutter. I have no idea why. Why waste time thinking about the why. I will concentrate on what I do now and try to reduce my stuttering." Again, they are no interested in research.

I never quite knew how to reply, as they are not completely wrong, though I felt they were somewhat on the wrong track. Now I have a clear reply: "Yes, overcoming or reducing stuttering makes you a stronger and wiser person. Attending self-help groups, self-reflecting, and doing a therapy makes you grow as a person. And there is no need to understand stuttering and its causes or mechanism. Following an established therapy is sufficient to become more fluent. But, let's go to a 4-year old child. Are you going to tell that child: Dont worry if you stutter, once you have overcome stuttering (after 20 years of pain, despair, and embarrassment), you are a stronger person? Or are you telling him/her that we dont have more effective way to reduce his/her stuttering because you are not interested in understanding stuttering better as it was not important for you personally?"

That is why I want to understand stuttering better!


Anonymous said...

After 20 years he overcomes stuttering?
I am 21 years old. Hey, great. In less than three years I'll start my career as a newscaster. ;)

Patrick said...

It seems to me that maybe they are just uncomfortable with themselves as stutterers and at the conferences they will tollerate only possitive affirmation, but I think (Speaking as a stutterer myself) that your approach of trying to understand and find solutions to stuttering acknowledges that stuttering is a problem so hterefore subltly offends them maybe? I think that your approach is realy helpful though and I think it is more helpful than just people lying and pretending the problem doesn't exist.