Neurodiversity and Stuttering

I had the opportunity to listen to a podcast with Chris Constantino, who is a speech
language pathologist and a person who stutters. In his podcast, he discusses the neurodiversity
movement and how some its beliefs, namely the acceptance and value of differences, can be
applied when working with our clients who stutter. Treatment, he reports, shouldn’t focus on
forcing individuals to be fluent, but rather, should focus on overall quality of life and exploration
and acceptance of an individual’s stutter.
One of the activities he would complete when working with middle school students
included reacting to negative comments or micro aggressions from others. He engaged the
students in role playing and had them practice how to teach people about stuttering and allowing
the people in the environment to expect them to stutter. Why? When other individuals expected
these students to be fluent and they tried to meet those expectations, they inevitably failed. But,
if these other individuals expected these students to stutter, the students could then meet this
expectation and the burden to be fluent could be lifted, allowing the students to stutter how they
wanted to.
He also suggested allowing clients to explore the ways in which their stuttering is
advantageous. He explained how his own stutter has allowed him to become more vulnerable. In
return, other individuals have shared that vulnerability with him. This has increased the quality
and intimacy of these exchanges.
Lastly, Constantino suggested how those who stutter can better communicate with those
who do not stutter. For example, if a listener finishes your words for you every time you stutter,
this may be insulting. To better educate them, you might say, “Please don’t do that,” and explain
that it makes you feel rushed. You can also suggest what they can do instead, such as, “I’d prefer
it if you waited patiently while I get the word out.” Speaking openly about these issues can allow
for change in how other people respond to stuttering.
Listen in to the podcast at:

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