How do we reconcile the message “It’s ok to stutter” with offering a treatment to reduce stuttering?
We all grow up in a society that tells us stuttering is bad. From movies where the person who stutters is invariably the bumbling idiot to school and business life, where the person who speaks the fastest, smoothest and most confident is more likely to be more successful, it is suggested to us that slow, hesitant speech is negative and repetitions or blocks are bad.
Many people who stutter and Speech & Language Therapists in the UK work on changing these attitudes. The British Stammering Association recently launched a public awareness campaign, aiming to reach millions of people with their message “What I want to say is worth waiting for!”, encouraging people to be more tolerant and patient with people who stutter.
Everyone in team BeneTalk is very much part of this #ok2stutter movement, born out of the social model of disability, that does not look at a person as being disabled but rather at society as being disabling. Our mission in developing our BeneTalk device and app is to help people who stutter become more effective in their communication while also supporting them to become more confident in themselves. We do a lot to raise awareness of the condition and work hard at dispelling myths and boosting confidence. I personally think that what gay pride was in the 80s and 90s, stuttering pride will be in the 2020s. We are slowly getting there but we are not there yet.
That's why we think it is ok to teach and learn speech techniques while at the same time strengthening the sense that stuttering is ok. There are very effective techniques to control stuttering which, in combination with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques, help people who stutter to overcome their negative thoughts and feelings around their stutter. That combination works really well. People stutter less while at the same time caring less if they do.
If you are interested in the concept of stuttering pride, here is some further reading: https://thebaffler.com/salvos/stammer-time-yeoman
“Stammering Pride and Prejudice” Difference not Defect. By P. Campbell, C. Constantino, S. Simpson (Eds). J&R Press.