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Just listen!

Written by Cynthia

When I started my journey as a speech therapist working with people who stutter and their families, I realize the importance of listening to people´s stories.

I am Cynthia, a speech therapist from Lima-Peru who works with people who stutter since 2015. I would like to tell you how I began to find stories of people who stutter the most relevant and valuable information to consider in stuttering intervention. Some years ago, I was not pleased teaching only speech techniques and asking people to put all their attention and effort on trying to use them. I was constantly with feelings of frustration… Then I felt that my therapy was inefficient when my students experienced days with more frequency and intensity of stuttering. Some days I felt I was not helping them and in others, I felt I was giving them the best support. But why? If I was doing exactly the same? It was because I was focusing too much on fluency!! Fluency was my target, but, was it the right one?

I was so centered on speech that I forgot to see what was behind it, I had my hands in front of my face tattooed with the word “fluency” on it and that wouldn’t let me see anything else.

Then, finally, yes! Finally!!! I learnt that there was much much more! I discovered a whole story behind stuttering. I understood that they wanted to be heard, that their stories and what they have experienced were relevant for them. This was new for me, a new perspective, a different mindset and I needed to be flexible to change the way I was thinking and developing my therapy sessions. So, after having a mental conflict between the knowledge I had and the new information regarding seeing the whole picture, I started to meet more people who stutter, to listen and learn from their stories.

To me, that new way of thinking was the most relevant turning point in my career, and it gave me the opportunity to listen deeply, to connect with my students and to understand the experience of being a person who stutters as I am not a someone who stutters.

At the beginning this wasn´t easy because I didn’t know how to respond to their stories they were telling, so I began to read and study about it to feel more confident and give the best I could to help people who stutter in their process.

Listening to their stories have helped me to grow and evolve as a person and as a professional. So, if you are a speech therapist and you are reading this, I hope the message I’m sharing, motivates you to read and listen to the stories of people who stutter. Nowadays, there are multiple ways to do it, listening to podcasts, reading blogs, watching youtube videos, joining Facebook community groups and so on. And if you are a person who stutter, listening to other people ‘stories will definitely make you realize that you are not alone and you will feel the sense of community to keep moving forward to accomplish what you want to accomplish and to be what you want to be. In sum, stories of people who stutter have helped me to be the therapist I am now, and they will continue influencing the professional I will become. There is much more behind what we see and hear, a whole story to discover and a whole story that wanted to be heard.

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