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 resists stuttering, he or she usually adopts avoidance behaviors such as substituting words and staying away from certain 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.
"Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there's got to be a way through it." -Michael J. Fox
Applying the Principle of Acceptance in Stuttering Therapy
We find once individuals accept that they are a “person who stutters,” as well as accepting 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 accept their stuttering that they started to communicate without fear, tension, and shame. With acceptance comes opportunity.
The American Institute for Stuttering is a leading non-profit organization whose primary mission is to provide universally affordable, state-of-the-art speech therapy to people of all ages who stutter, guidance to their families, and much-needed clinical training to speech professionals wishing to gain expertise in stuttering. Offices are located in New York, NY, Atlanta, GA, and Los Angeles, CA, and services are also available online. Our mission extends to advancing public and scholarly understanding of this often misunderstood disorder.
Dr. Heather Grossman, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-F
Executive Director, Board-Certified Specialist in Fluency Disorders
Dr. Heather Grossman is one of a small number of speech language pathologists holding a PhD in fluency disorders who works primarily in a clinical setting. For more than 25 years, she’s worked tirelessly to help people who stutter to speak freely and live fearlessly.