The author has me hooked.  After reading the prologue, I’m vested with a certain interest to learn more about Katherine’s perspective on stuttering.  She expresses her feelings, fears, hopes, and priorities about her speech.  She lets readers in on what’s going through her mind in the moment just before the stutter.  And how aware she is of her speaking strengths and weaknesses.

When interacting with her peers, she “knows” she will be dysfluent on her name.  She knows that when she’s speaking alone or to an animal, specifically her puppy Holly, she will always be fluent.  Katherine expresses hope; stating if she just tries harder she can “fix” her speech.  Her goal is to make her speech “normal” just like “everyone else”.  She’s organized, more organized than I’ve known any of my students to be, making a list of tasks she plans to complete in order to increase her fluency.

Or maybe not.  It makes me wonder if maybe some of my students do make lists like these? Do they feel comfortable enough with me to discuss and share these things?  Am I giving my students enough tools they can take with them from the classroom to work on fluent speech on their own as they choose?  Are students at my schools being bullied?  Would teachers communicate that to me? so that I could intervene?  I would be more than happy to go into the classroom with any of my students as he/she would present information about stuttering to classmates. Should I be more proactive? interviewing teachers so that I might uncover this information on my own accord.

This section of the book, has also inspired me to look for role models – as Katherine says, from hermits to celebrities – that look like my students, whom they could relate to, and look to for motivation.

-Katie Cohen, Maupin and Roosevelt Perry Elementaries


8 thoughts on “Prologue

  1. Kim says:

    Makes me really think about how anxiety plays a part in stuttering. I know that selective mutism has also been closely linked to anxiety and anxious situations can make fluency worse, but I really would like to know more about the medical role anxiety plays in fluent speech and moments of stuttering.

  2. Kathy McKenzie-Hensley says:

    I was really intrigued by the relationship between Katherine and her friend, her Savior/Saviour, (whichever spelling you prefer). Was this an arrangement they have? Does this friend know how important she is? I hope the author addresses this in future chapters. Stuttering such an isolating issue. It would be interesting if she and her friend had a “you save me if you see me in trouble” deal.

  3. Lauren Gillenwater says:

    The self-monitoring stood out to me too. It has been helpful when teachers have come to me when communication skills impacted social relationships. Other students have brought up these issues on their own. Some students didn’t feel comfortable opening up about their thoughts on communication and social relationships in the small group, but they opened up during individual sessions. Others wanted to chime in when they heard other students sharing their thoughts on strategies. We do have to really be proactive by providing the materials both students and teachers can use to generalize skills. This is an area I’ve been focusing on this year. Careful listening and spending time getting to know our students are both important in determining if the individual is more likely to open up while sharing among peers, or if the individual needs a one-on-one conversation to share thoughts or address concerns. By making others feel comfortable sharing through either approach and by providing enough opportunities for students and teachers to share their thoughts, we empower both teachers and students to play a role in transferring skills.

  4. Christine Scally says:

    Katie, I was intrigued by the question you asked yourself about whether some of your students “do make lists like these.” This was my constant reaction to the opening chapters of this book. I consistently think of my students’ improvement or recovery in terms of my own actions, or the students reaction to my actions — did they follow cues correctly, did they practice carry over activities etc…. it honestly never occurred to me that the student might have a relationship to their speech impairment that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with me. They might be going home and trying new toothbrushes to fix their articulation, or who knows what kind of witchcraft.
    Katherine doesn’t seem to think that her stutter has anything to do with her speech therapists. The speech therapists are just these tangentially involved “nice ladies.” I’m a bit ashamed that this perspective has never really occurred to me.
    I think I’m going to start asking my students about this. And I’m going to work on being a little less egocentric about this job of mine

  5. Rachel lacap says:

    I agree about finding role models. Occasionally I will receive something in the mail from the stuttering foundation and they often have celebrities who stutter listed. I also had the thought that if it were me, I might start going by a nickname, to see if that would increase fluency.

  6. Amanda Piekarski says:

    The prologue really pulled me in! The overall level of anxiety she is experiencing as a ten year old impacts me emotionally. This really made me think about the anticipation of being disfluent. I currently have a fifth grade student who is disfluent. He told me the first day that he ‘only stutters on words that start with /t/, /d/, and /k/”. I’ve never heard a student be so self aware! We talked about how he feels when he stutters, when he reads aloud, when he speaks to a new person, etc. This puts another layer on this anxiety, for me personally.
    I was also influenced by her response to “the best speech therapists in London”. She stated “none of it was helping and, at ten years old, my misguided, self-taught attempts to find fluency began to feel like the only viable option”. It was so interesting to read the ‘deals’ she was making with herself and her own prescribed practice methods.
    Looking forward to the advancement of this book.

  7. allison forrester says:

    The prologue is an exciting beginning to this book, which really makes the reader look forward to what is to come. I thought she made a very powerful statement when she said “ day stuttering would be the driving force in my life..”

  8. Lexie Cunningham says:

    Whenever I start to feel like I’m about to finish a sentence or stick up for one of my stutterers who is visibly struggling in a social situation, I try to think about Katherine’s story of how Claire saved her at the birthday party. Even though she was grateful, it actually made her feel pathetic because she needed the help. I am now trying to be even cognizant and sensitive to my student’s feelings.

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