Dr. Lee Reeves: Accepting stuttering does not mean giving up

Dr. Lee Reeves of the National Stuttering AssociationDr. Lee Reeves is the former Chairman of the National Stuttering Association and currently serves as its Membership Chairman. He is a veterinarian in Dallas and a close friend of AIS.

Lee recently wrote an excellent piece on the acceptance of one’s stuttering and gave us permission to reprint it here.

Acceptance is a frequently discussed concept by those affected by stuttering. Because it is an abstract and often very personal concept, discussions can bring out strong emotions and opinions. Some have suggested that accepting one’s stuttering is tantamount to giving up or giving in and thus deciding to remain locked in a world of fear and limited opportunity. Others have stated that acceptance means that it’s not only OK to stutter but that stuttering could and indeed should be worn (or spoken) like a badge of honor. Still others believe that acceptance is a necessary first step for change to occur.

Through my own journey with stuttering I have come to believe that acceptance is reaching a state of mind in which we acknowledge both externally AND internally that our inability to speak with the spontaneity and fluidity of others is real but is not our or anyone else’s fault; that while stuttering is part of who we are it does not define or limit us. The concept of acceptance does not mean that we are destined to remain at or even be satisfied with the condition in which we find ourselves. It does mean, however, that we have reached a point where we can make clear decisions on our own behalf without the baggage of the past holding us back  or the blind optimism of the future jading our expectations for “perfect” speech. The decision to change the way we speak requires personal risk and will be met with both success and failure. However, with a foundation of acceptance, success is more sustainable and failure is less destructive.

Simply put, we cannot change the way we speak for any appreciable period of time until we become comfortable with the idea that we are more than our stuttering and that we alone have the power to determine what to do about it. Accepting stuttering does not mean giving up. It is not the end but rather, the beginning!

Many thanks to Lee for sharing with us. We’d love to hear your thoughts on personal acceptance of stuttering.

In what way, if any, have you accepted your stuttering?

photo: NSA

By |2017-02-19T06:27:06+00:00March 26th, 2010|Friends, Headlines|11 Comments


  1. Sarah B. March 26, 2010 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    I’ve come to understand that stuttering is not bad (like I had thought for so many years). Stuttering is just part of who I am. Just like I have blond hair and brown eyes. It just is. Acceptance of stuttering for me is about accepting myself for who I am. I am a person who stutters. For the longest time, I hated my stuttering, and therefore, hated myself. I can honestly say, that by working on accepting my stuttering I like myself more and I have a lot more confidence. I feel like I am beginning to finally be me.

  2. Lori Melnitsky March 29, 2010 at 11:11 am - Reply

    This is a great post. I am a speech pathologist who stutters. I took many refresher courses with Catherine Montgomery. I found them helpful and rewarding. I do accept the fact that I stutter, but never gave up on my quest for fluency. It was important to me and in the old days of intensive fluency shaping, fluency was always stressed. I am glad it was but am grateful for the cognitive ideas that are also suggested. To me acceptance means realizing that you stutter but also striving for fluency and effective communication. I am grateful to the support I have received from Catherine and Chaminox over the years. It has helped in my journey. I agree with Lee above. I have found an internal state of peace, but I keep pusing forward. I actually just wrote about this on my blog.

  3. Sarah D'Agostino April 5, 2010 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Acceptance- a very powerful thing. Finding peace with stuttering is to stutter with grace. What can that mean?! Stuttering for me can still be frustrating and annoying but it doesn’t embarrass me or make me feel like a less accomplished person. In fact, in accepting stuttering, I find myself feeling proud to be strong, to be a person who perseveres with this challenge that I am forced to wear on my sleeve. At the same time, it makes me feel more compassionate toward others because I know that everyone has something that is hard for them. Like Lori, I still work to be more fluent or stutter in an easy and painless way to easy the physical frustrations of stuttering.

  4. Carl April 6, 2010 at 7:55 am - Reply

    Sarah, Lori, and Sarah, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I’ll be sharing this blog post and these comments with clients, as I think it will really help in discussing this challenging topic.

    Sarah B., you highlighted one of the most important aspects of acceptance. When you began accepting your stuttering, you didn’t give in or give up, but rather began being the person you wanted to be despite your stuttering.

  5. Carl April 6, 2010 at 8:00 am - Reply

    One more comment I’d like to add 🙂

    When thinking about acceptance, I think its important to think of it as a continuum. Its not necessary to see acceptance as something you either fully do or fully don’t do. It doesn’t need to be that black and white. Everyone can accept their stuttering to a different extent.

  6. Sarah B. April 7, 2010 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    I really like what you said about stuttering with grace. I’ve never heard of it put that way before.

  7. Pam April 9, 2010 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    Acceptance for me has been a big thing. I think its possible to accept self as is and still stutter. Thats been one of my biggest realizations over the last several years. I think I was giving in to other people’s pressures to learn techniques or pratice targets, when i didn’t really want to do that. What I needed to do was accept me for me, and that includes the stuttering part. I admit I still feel some shame and embarassment every once in a while – it creeps in and takes me by surprise. Acceptance has helped me to not beat myself up so much when I feel that little bit of shame.
    I am not tryig to be fixed nor striving for a more fluent persona. I am just trying to like myself as I am – all of who I am. Speaking of grace, someone told me several years ago, and this has become my mantra of sorts,
    “When a person finds their voice, they take on grace.”
    I like to think I have found my voice – stuttered speech or not. Therefore, I have grace.

  8. Podcast of Dr. Lee Reeves’ Guest Lecture | National Stuttering Association Austin Chapter November 17, 2012 at 3:38 am - Reply

    […] Acceptance […]

  9. Gil August 21, 2017 at 12:35 am - Reply

    Can anyone help me to accept my stutter im still in school and it really affect my academic performance.

  10. Carl Herder August 21, 2017 at 9:20 am - Reply

    Thanks for commenting, Gil. Acceptance is something you can work on in therapy, on your own, or better yet, by connecting with other people who stutter. Do you have any National Stuttering Association chapters in your area, and have you attended any meetings? FRIENDS: The National Association of Young People who Stutter also has one-day workshops and a national convention worth checking out. If you don’t have stuttering support groups in your area, StutterSocial is worth checking out (they’re an online support group that does google hangouts).

    Good luck in your acceptance journey, Gil. Let us know if we can help in some way.

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