Friday, January 8, 2010

The label stutterer vs a person who stutters

Today I received a call from a parent of a child who stutters.  This week happened to be an unusually difficult speech week for me as I had trouble sleeping at night.  As a result I had to focus even more on my fluency tools but also realized the world was not going to end if I stuttered.  As I spoke to this mother, she asked if I used to be a stutterer. I answered that I still was.  Usually I don't care if people use the word stutterer or person who stutters, but this time I did.  I felt like it was asked with judgement and the fact that I was a successful speech pathologist was being ignored.  I don't have anything to prove to anyone at this point in my career as I have helped many people, but I do want to educate the public.  If someone had asked this mother to describe her son, would she have said, "Joe ( not his real name) is a stutterer and goes to school."  She probably wouldn't have even mentioned his stuttering as that does not define him.  The point is we who stutter are people first.  It does matter that we are viewed as people who stutter and not labelled as stutterers.  We are not defined by how we speak.  People who walk with a limp are not defined by how they walk.  People who lisp are not called lispers.  To the public who is not familiar with stuttering, please realize we are people, students, friends, spouses and parents who happen to stutter.  Some of us happen to be very fluent and some of us happen to stutter openly.  Most importantly we want to be heard, listened to, not interrupted and respected.  I feel very strongly about this post as too many people who stutter have grown up with shame forgetting that they possess so many wonderful qualities.  Thanks for reading this post.  I would appreciate any comments.

10 comments:

Sarah said...

I'm 25 years old and a PWS. I personally like the term person who stutters more than stutterer. I think the term "stutterer" adds to the public's skewed image of what stuttering is. Also, I think the word "stutterer" sounds condescending and there is no need for anymore negativity toward stuttering

Sarah

Ayan said...

Don't lose hope. Your cause is a noble one. Not many can appreciate the work you are doing. Keep up the good work,Lori!

michael said...

thank you for your blog,it's very encouraging.

Anonymous said...

Hello Lori - I just stumbled across your blog and i thought i would leave a comment. I really appreciated your last blog about humanizing those that stutter. At times we can be looked upon as someone to has less to contribute or may have defective reasoning. Im a physician who stutters and have stuggled with this my entire life. I see the faces of my patients when im having a especially difficult day with my fluency and the trust in their eyes does seem to diminish. I pondered about being forth coming about my dysfluency but ive never had that courage except during my residency interviews. I would actually like your opinion about a few other things concerning this and potential techniques to help me in my quest for fluency. If you can, please email me @ hmpe@aol.com. I look forward to your email. Thanks!

Manan said...

Hi!! I'm 36 yrs old male with PWS. Yes it is correct to call a person with PWS compare to a stutter. I agree with this post and had liked to read through and felt of what I feel when someone says me a stutter. Thank you for your blog and it is very encouraging for me to read and understand reality of life who is PWS.

Lori Melnitsky said...

I want to thank everyone for posting comments. It makes me want to write more when I see others find it helpful. Stuttering isn't easy but we are people first and the world should know that!!!

Anonymous said...

People who stutter should not be looked down upon. They are people first and I agree with you 100%. It takes much effort to accomplish fluency and of course it depends on the severity of the condition and length of time it takes to secure oneself with the confidence to strive. There are many people who are ashamed or embarrassed and they become hermits because some people can be very cruel to someone who stutters. Patience with oneself is very important. I can attest to what I wrote as I became fluent with learning, techniques and patience. It's not easy but can be accomplished to the best of one's ability. I know as I to this day practice what I have learned.

sachin said...

I think we need to be flexible about labels. "Stutterer" would offend some PWS- and so PWS should be used for them. But what about that person, who has truly outgrown the whole issue and couldn't care less as to what label you use? S/he knows her/himself deep inside- and may not think much of how people call them.
Every label in the long run, fails to do justice to us. To some of us, "People who stammer"- fails to signify that we do many other (interesting) things besides stammering..
So, "PWS" is fine- but let us remember, we are trying to change something deeper than just the label..
I have enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for this sharing..
sachin

Jane Baker said...

I really enjoyed this blog very much! The articles are very well written. I have a friend whose son stutters and I think she could benefit from this website.
Feel free to visit me back of you can!

Walker said...

I do not like the word "stutterer".
As a kid I used to stutter and when i was called that i cringed.
Through hard work on by me, my parents and my therapist, i corrected the problem but the name calling haunts me today.