Written by: Dr. Heather Grossman
Why does everybody keep talking about “accepting” stuttering?
At AIS, we promote that people who stutter strive to accept their stuttering. This makes some people cringe! They ask, “Why should I accept something that is so annoying? I don’t want to accept it, I want to learn to control it!”
We maintain that you cannot really come to change something you don’t accept. If, for example, you do not accept a diagnosis of diabetes, you will not be apt to change your diet, adhere to a prescribed medication schedule nor make healthy lifestyle modifications.
When a person who stutters (PWS) resists stuttering, he or she usually adopts avoidance behaviors such as substituting words and situations. Unfortunately, even though these avoidances seem to eliminate some stuttering, they only serve to increase fear and perpetuate more avoidance. Further, when a stuttering block does occur, the body naturally recoils with physical tension. Many people find that their stuttering is most severe in situations where they are trying hardest to be fluent. The core of the problem of stuttering is actually made up of all the things the person does in order NOT TO STUTTER.
Applying this principle to therapy, we find once individuals accept that they are a “person who stutters,” as well as accept moments of stuttering, they can start to modify those moments and maintain a forward-flow of speech. When people accept their stuttering, they enter situations and use words they might normally avoid. They are willing to tell others that they stutter, and are open to letting others see and hear instances of stuttering without shame or embarrassment. They communicate effectively and also happen to stutter.
Many clients tell us that it was only when they came to fully accept their stuttering that they started to communicate without fear, tension, and shame. With acceptance comes opportunity.