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.