Katherine shared many lessons learned and how her feelings about stuttering evolved. She wrote, “I am not magically fixed as the curtain drops.” Did she find the answer she had always hoped for? She emphasized that she still isn’t “normal, whatever that means.” She still stuttered. Katherine compared the way her memories and experiences will stay with her to the way memories and experiences stay with an alcoholic or manic depressive. She also mentioned she still feels like the 7 year old version of herself in some ways.

Katherine revealed her thoughts, feelings, and overall change in attitude toward stuttering with strength and maturity. She described the “messiness” and the “gray areas of stuttering.” Katherine moved beyond the belief that her stutter is “something that happened” to her and a barrier that made her different than the rest of the world. She no longer equated happiness and fluency. She learned we are all in a “gray,” “messy,” “complicated world” with vulnerabilities that make us who we are. Katherine described “the power that our vulnerabilities hold over us” and the way she felt stuttering took control of her and took away so much from her. She explained it controlled her appearance, her language, every conversation, and every relationship. Katherine described stuttering as “breathless and painful and scary.” This pain was reflected when she shared she would not wish it on her worst enemy.

Katherine learned by embracing our vulnerabilities, “they are totally dismembered.” In the end, she felt she would not be herself without her stutter. She no longer felt like she needed to change that about herself, as it caused her to achieve all she did and to develop many positive qualities. She no longer felt stuttering was an enemy to fight against. Katherine wrote, “It might be the best thing that ever happened to me.

In addition, stuttering gave Katherine strength, taught her about love, and taught her to fight the fear of change. She wrote, “We are all designed to be, in the words of Phil Schneider, ‘perfectly imperfect.’” Katherine felt it gave her more than it took from her. It gave her “a fighting instinct” that allowed her to know she would handle anytime life is expectedly not easy. Katherine ended the epilogue by emphasizing “it is our imperfections that ultimately make us beautiful,” and that “they are what give us our humanity and what bring us, finally, into focus.” I am so happy for Katherine in reaction to reading about the acceptance she achieved by the end of the book. I am impressed by the strength she revealed as she shared her thoughts about such an impactful aspect of who she is.

I reflected on the experiences and feelings of students while reading the epilogue. I thought about the impact of a 7-year-old’s experiences and feelings. I thought about how the experiences might stay with the individual in the way Katherine’s memories have stayed with her. Have any students said or done anything that reminded you of the experiences Katherine shared? How will you apply what you’ve learned in schools? What did you enjoy or want to be different about the ending of the book? What a great choice for book club! I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

Lauren Gillenwater, Greenwood Elementary

10 thoughts on “Epilogue

  1. Rachel Lacap says:

    I think this was just raw and real. My biggest take away from Katherine’s story comes in what she says in the epilogue. She is better aware of the profound need for a change in the way we all perceive stuttering. I agree with this completely. I can’t tell you how many students I have who are dysfluent MORE at home than with me in speech because I honestly let them know that it’s OKAY to stutter, and their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, etc. are constantly asking them to be fluent and “fix” the stutter. I really want to thrust this book into the hands of some of the parents of my stuttering kiddos and say, “hey, it’s ok that he stutters, he gets through it easily, and what he has said is beautiful and has so much meaning. Please listen to WHAT he is saying, not HOW he is saying it.”

  2. Sarah Crady says:

    Rachel, I have students that are more fluent at school than at home as well! One of my sweet students has told me that her parents make her nervous about her stutter because they tell her to stop. They even took her to her pediatrician about it, (which I told them before hand was not necessary and was not going to be helpful) which the pediatrician told the parents she just needs to read more. There is definitely a need for more education about stuttering in our society!

  3. Candra Grether says:

    Rachel and Sarah, I feel like I could have written your posts myself. Stuttering therapy is something I enjoy very much and I adored this book. I will definitely be having more conversations in meetings this year and in the future with parents about acceptance– not just in the speech room with my students.

  4. Erica Hayes says:

    I agree that this book was a good choice. I do not work with many children that stutter, and this has really opened my eyes to the many challenges they face as well as ways that I could offer more support!

  5. Kathy McKenzie-Hensley says:

    I was really glad I read this book. I think it helped me to grow as an SLP who treats stuttering. Will I “fix” every kid? No. It is ok to stutter and it is my role as an SLP to help the students and parents embrace this. I can help the student learn strategies to ease through the rough moments. I can help them to be more comfortable with themselves. I often feel like somewhat of a failure when they are unsuccessful and I shouldn’t feel that way. I do think I will recommend this book to parents and people who stutter in the future to let them know…hey, it’s okay.

  6. Lisa Ehrie says:

    I also enjoyed this book. As others have mentioned, it opened my eyes too – we study and learn and feel like we try to cover all the aspects of any of the “disorders” we treat, but this story helped show me areas I may have overlooked with people who stutter. It also reaffirmed many of the strategies or ideas I have been using over the years to be on the right track.

  7. allison forrester says:

    I really enjoyed this book and looked forward to every chapter to follow along on her journey! I agree that her experiences really allowed me to feel what a person who stutters feels. I do feel that there needs to be more awareness and education of stuttering. I remember a 6th grade student that I had a couple of years ago and I offered to do a presentation of stuttering in all of her classes, but she declined. I reminded her that I was always a resource if she felt like she needed that support. Luckily, she had great friends and confidence. Great choice!

  8. Kristin Jansen says:

    Rachel and Sarah, I agree as well. I have one specific student who is so genuine and aware and he expresses to me numerous times that he stutters at home, but not in therapy. It has been a challenge to persuade his parents to take the path of acceptance and understanding instead of constant nagging, however, I will certainly continue to advocate for this child.
    In the end, although Katherine continues to stutter, I have enjoyed the journey through her life. Great book choice for reflection as a therapist!

  9. Chelsea says:

    The concept of memories was powerful to me. What memories are being created for my students during therapy, how will they recall their time in speech? I hope what sticks out to them is the feeling of being valued, and that their communication matters.

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