Stammering can be framed in different ways, which in turn influences different approaches to stammering therapy.
Traditionally, stammering has been understood from a medical perspective and defined as a speech ‘disorder’. As such, the behaviours associated with stammering are viewed as interruptions to and ‘deviations’ from the natural flow of speech. This locates the problem of stammering with the individual and results in therapy approaches that work primarily with individual differences or ‘deficits’.
The disability rights movement has led us away from understanding disability as an individual defect, but rather as a form of social discrimination against certain types of human variation. From this perspective, stammering is affirmed as a natural form of human diversity and as such a legitimate and valuable way of speaking. Taking this premise, stammering is only a problem because our culture values fluent speech. The dysfluency pride movement invites us to question and challenge the current fluent values of society and take a much more empowering view of stammering. It also calls for therapy to address the attitudinal, environmental and structural barriers that people who stammer encounter in today’s society.
Choosing a therapy approach is a very personal decision. I believe in a combined approach – working with you to understand how your stammering is influencing your life choices and how you feel about yourself; increasing your communication choices, opportunities and confidence as well as creating a stammer-friendly environment and working with your family, friends, work colleagues and community as you see relevant. I can also offer opportunities to get involved in a broader dialogue about stammering and therapy through blogs, talks and campaigning, if of interest.