Natalie Belling and Courtney Luckman are speech therapists and people who stutter.
“I know the ins and outs of history. I can tell you verbatim the biography of Ulysses S. Grant. I know every battle of every war. How it began, how it played out, and how it ended.
But because I can’t navigate social situations, I don’t have a job and I have no friends, even though I deeply want to connect with others. Because of my diagnosis, I cannot find my place in the world.”
Early childhood stuttering is enormously complicated. There are no clean-cut answers, other than "it depends on the child." Here are a few of the most common questions we encounter from parents, and our take on the answers.
“I have trouble speaking sometimes. The words don’t come out fluent, or they don’t come out at all. This happens especially when I’m excited, nervous, or during stressful situations.”
”No no, not stuttering. Just….stuck.”
"Stuttering is when people repeat or prolong sounds, right?"
Dear speech IRL friends,
As you all know, community is one of the founding values of speech IRL. We believe that access to a supportive, accepting, challenging community is essential for successful communication and personal growth.
As an extension of the values and work that we hold dear at speech IRL, I am deeply excited to share with you about a very special endeavor that I’ve had the honor to work on for the past year. Welcome to Shared Voices Chicago: A Community for People Who Stutter.
Shared Voices is envisioned as a Chicago-based non-profit community center for people who stutter, by people who stutter. We want people who stutter to speak authentically and confidently in their professional and personal lives, without fear of judgment or barriers to success.
This is a first-of-its-kind concept: a brick-and-mortar meeting space, both safe and empowering, that welcomes PWS into a safe community, and simultaneously supports them to go out and create a better world for people with diverse voices. This is not a speech therapy clinic. All activities will be created by the stuttering community, for the stuttering community, to meet the needs of today and change the world for tomorrow.
“Can I ask you something?” my friend asked timidly.
“Sure,” I said.
What is happening when you are stuttering? Do you know what you want to say? What should I do when this happens?” my friend anxiously asked.
With her voice cracking and her eyes diverting from mine, I could tell that these were hard questions for my friend to ask. I smiled, and thanked her for asking. These were really good questions.
Surprised, I texted another stuttering friend who I knew had seen the movie. "There's a character who stutters?" He responded that yes there was, but it was so minor that he didn't even notice until someone else pointed it out.
In the intervening eons between opening night and Sunday, when I finally watched the film, I continued to receive messages. Some people were outraged that stuttering was associated with this ne'er-do-well. Some thought it was cool that stuttering was in Star Wars, at all. And some didn't even notice.
“Clinic!” Stella exclaimed, appalled. “A stuttering clinic?” She was mortified by this new concept she had just discovered on Google.
“Yeah, I don’t like that word either,” I said. “Would you call this place a clinic?”
“No!” she retorted, still visibly disturbed. “A clinic is for sick people. Stuttering doesn’t make you sick!”
“Well, what would you call this?”
She barely hesitated. “Therapy!” She said it with a bright smile. “But not the bad kind of therapy,” she continued quickly. “The good kind.”
An episode of the podcast, "Stuff You Should Know", called “How Stuttering Works”, recently hit the airwaves. “Stuff You Should Know” (SYSK) is a popular podcast and video series published by the How Stuff Works website, with the tag line "Learn how everything works!" The show discusses a wide variety of topics and disorders, both common and unusual. This episode focused on stuttering. Hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant discussed several well-researched aspects of stuttering. While many claims were articulated accurately, others seemed to be alarmingly misinterpreted.