Out with It-Overall Takeaways

I have really enjoyed reading this book and experiencing Katherine’s journey through her life as a person who stutters. I was asked to discuss the major takeaways from this book, which seems difficult because there were so many great challenges, experiences, and successes throughout the book.  The two major takeaways that I feel were really important are: 1) ‘stuttering does not have any neat answers’ and 2) ‘happiness and fluency do not walk hand in hand.’ These ideas are so important and are woven throughout the book and really stand out as central themes.

The first theme, or idea, relates to the fact that there is no cookie cutter approach to stuttering therapy and no ‘magic pill’. Throughout her life, Katherine is searching for an answer or a ‘cure’ for her stutter, but never really finds it. She describes stuttering as a ‘messy condition full of gray areas’ that will be her ‘steady companion’ for the rest of her life. Through her experiences and growth, she has found some of the answers she was looking for and feels empowered and ‘better armed’ with knowledge and understanding. She becomes better at handling moments of dysfluency and has even learned to laugh at them, instead of allowing them to be defined and archived as the worst days or moments in her life.

The second theme is all about Katherine discovering who she is, embracing her stutter and respecting that it has played an important role in the person she has become. At the end of the book, Katherine really speaks about acceptance of her stutter and how it has defined who she is in so many ways. “I have seen all of my flaws and vulnerability lain across every room I have entered. I have witnessed the frailty and strength of my heart. It has made me humble; it has made me cry more violently and love more deeply; it has shown me the finest in people and the worst in them; it has made me sensitive to the world around me.” She says that her stutter is the best part of her in many ways and she isn’t sure who she would be without it. All of her experiences throughout her life have helped define who she is today. After two decades, she realizes that fluency does not equal happiness and that everyone has problems in this ‘messy, complicated’ world, but it is how we choose to address them that determines the power they have over us.

After reading this book, I feel it has empowered us as therapists to better understand where a person who stutters comes from and that stuttering is a complex communication disorder with no specific cure that impacts individuals’ lives in so many different ways.

-Allison Forrester, SLP at Noe Middle, Manual High, and PACT at U of L

Lauren Wempe, SLP at Atkinson Elem., put together a graphic organizer, much like we might use with our kiddos, to recap the story:

Thanks, ladies!


4 thoughts on “Out with It-Overall Takeaways

  1. Becky Trzupek says:

    Thank you for such a great summary! I have said it before, but I was assigned to read this book in grad school and after reading it again I am so thankful that that assignment was given. Mainly because as your second point stated, a fluency disorder does not mean a person will never be happy. As you pointed out, she embraced her stutter as part of her which is something that had a great impact on me and they way I discuss fluency with my kiddos. I think that when I point out, “Hey, you stutter and its just the way you talk. You can like it or you can not like it but its completely up to you!” The kids are super puzzled because usually a parent or someone in their life has been constantly telling them to slow down or fix it. I was so glad to have the opportunity to revisit this book as it once again helped me to feel a little less lost when it comes to trying to help my fluency kiddos!

  2. Lindsay Manis says:

    Great summary! This book really opened my eyes on the daily struggle. The most simplistic tasks the me, may very well be daunting for someone else. As I read this book, I continually was brought back to when I was in college and sometimes even now, when I meet new people and they ask what I do for a living and their immediate responses being “oh yeah so you help kids who stutter”. Now that I have had some real life experience, when I get that same comment, I tend to answer with “they help me”. I found this book to be really educational and a big reminder of the daily struggles that these students face daily, and even though I am empathetic, I will never truly understand what they deal with. I mentioned this book to a friend of mine, who has a teenager who is stutters. She wanted to read the book first and then have her daughter read it stressing what it means to come terms with her stuttering, seeking hope for her future in a sense and she really liked it. Very inspiring as a therapist!

  3. Chelsea says:

    Love the idea of using the graphic organizer to review this book. I like using story grammar graphic organizers with students in all areas of speech. It supports literacy while addressing their specific goals. Back to the book….this book and her story have deeply impacted me both personally and professionally.

  4. lauren wempe says:

    I like the quote Allison included in the third paragraph. I feel like it was an excellent conclusion for someone who stutters or any one that has struggles throughout life. The self-awareness and confidence she exhibits is something we want for all our students. This book definitely has special interest for someone who stutters or anyone that has a relationship with someone who stutters, to gain perspective. However, this book can be entertaining and inspiring to anyone. It is definitely a story of “coming to age” and learning to accept yourself.

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