Part One Recap

Wow! Part One. My assignment for our book study is to provide a recap for part one and the only thing I can think to say to start this off is, “Wow!” I am really enjoying this book. In reading the summaries and comments on the blog, it seems like Katherine is taking not just me but all of us on an emotional journey as she shares her life with stuttering.

*Side note: I almost wrote “as she shares her life about stuttering” but I prefer the way “with stuttering” reads, as if stuttering has been the familiar yet annoying constant travel companion riding with her on this adventure of life. Katherine often personifies stuttering during these first seven chapters, referring to it as a “demon”, an “opponent” in battle, “lurking deep within”, so I think making a life-like comparison like this works. For those who participated in our book study for Schuyler’s Monster last fall, does this remind you of anything? I think personification is a good technique for authors of these memoirs to use in an attempt to convey to readers just how much of a struggle these communication impairments are for the people directly impacted by them. For us, the impairments of our students can be a struggle when we are working with them in therapy, when we’re writing their paperwork, and maybe off and on as we go about our normal routines and a random thought about how to best help them creeps up, but we do not carry those burdens of their disability constantly like they might.

So, yes, an emotional journey over here for me. Cliché but I have been on the edge of my seat to see how Katherine progresses with her stutter! I look forward to watching the video of Katherine that was shared in a blog post a few chapters back but am trying to hold off until I finish the book, as I’m enjoying the way the author writes and like the suspense I feel as she goes from elementary-age to now her twenties as she shares her story.

What has stood out to you the most in part one? For me, I think two things stand out. On page 42 (I’m reading via Kindle) Katherine writes that therapy implies being abnormal and needing help. As someone who majored in psychology in college, I relate to this thought when it comes to discussions around therapy and especially mental health stigma. Our “official” job title is speech-language pathologist but we are often referred to as speech therapists. When I refer to myself as a speech therapist, I’ve had multiple students make funny faces and say something like, “Therapy? I don’t need therapy.” Before I used that word they seemed fine with coming to speech. I’ve learned that many students equate therapy to counseling for a mental health impairment and while this has opened up the door for great discussion in the speech room, I sometimes prefer to refer to myself as a speech teacher when talking to my younger students or when talking to my students around peers who are not in speech, as many times I feel this can be easier, especially in the school setting. I know some SLPs feel strongly about the phrase “speech teacher” but I never have. With that said, I wonder if I should. Should I always refer to myself as a speech therapist since it does provide such a great opportunity to talk about the word therapy and to open minds that were possibly closed? Referring to myself as a speech teacher may be easier for me but saying speech therapist (or even speech-language pathologist) would likely be more beneficial.

The next thing that stands out the most to me is the discussion about fluency shaping strategies versus stuttering modification strategies in Chapter 7. My professor who taught fluency in grad school did a great job teaching us the difference between the two and I try to remember to separate these strategies into two different benchmarks when I am writing IEP goals. In therapy I teach the differences to my students and my students know that my goal is not to make them a person who does not stutter but to make them a person who stutters differently or more easily. I’ll save any additional thoughts about this topic for the Chapter 7 comments but I really enjoyed this part of the book as it made me feel like I’m doing something right. J

That’s a wrap! This has turned out to be less of a full, formal recap than I intended but I hope it works. I’m really curious to see how part two is written, especially since Katherine included quotes from the people she met in America throughout part one. Another good book choice, Kinsey!

Candra Grether, SLP @ The Phoenix School of Discovery and JTown High School

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2 thoughts on “Part One Recap

  1. Lisa Ehrie says:

    The insight Candra has on the “therapy” stigma that Katherine refers to is so true. Does therapy=abnormal?? It shouldn’t, but I’m sure that it can often be very difficult for kids and older clients to get passed the “therapy” label even before the first session. Something I have not given much thought to until now. I am enjoying reading about her journey and finding the parts that we as SLPs can really relate to and learn from.

  2. Chelsea says:

    Speech therapy addressing stuttering is so much more than just teaching strategies for fluency. Books like this, and other interviews with persons who stutter, give us an insight into how deeply this disorder affects our clients. As an more seasoned clinician, I don’t recall receiving much training in how to support/coach my clients regarding the affective components of stuttering. We were trained how to identify these components, but provided few tools to support them.

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