Dr. Lee Reeves: Accepting Stuttering Does Not Mean Giving Up

March 26, 2010
Carl Herder, M.A., CCC-SLP, BCS-F
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Dr. Lee Reeves of the National Stuttering Association

Dr. 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

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