Stuttering – An Action, Not an Attribute

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Stuttering – An Action, Not an Attribute

Attribute – a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something, a material object recognized as symbolic of a person.

stuttering is an action, not an attribute

I have heard people in the stuttering community refer to stuttering as an attribute. Though there are many who may not agree with me, I feel uncomfortable with looking at stuttering in this way. Stuttering is not a quality or an object. It is an action: the way that a person produces speech. Since the system that produces speech is dynamic and given to change from minute to minute, situation to situation, and from time to time in one’s life, holding on to stuttering as an attribute does not allow for the normal flow of change. Stuttering becomes a description of who I am, not something I may or may not do.

Many people have accepted that stuttering is part of who they are and do not want to try to change it. This attitude has its benefit, because trying not to stutter leads to more stuttering, frustration, and anxiety. However, if we can get away from the stuttering/fluency perspective and realize that stuttering refers to the way the brain functions when speaking, there is no trying not to stutter. Instead, changing the way you create speech becomes a normal and natural part of life.

Today we know that there is brain plasticity. Thoughts change; attitudes change; perspective changes; neuro-motor processes can become hardwired or be replaced by others. This means that the act of speaking can become a new and different communication experience.

Most people who go to therapy try to replace the attribute of stuttering with the attribute of fluency. When they do not succeed, they give up. I suggest that we stop focusing on attributes, and realize that we are all dynamic beings who are always in a process of change. This paradigm will give people who stutter the freedom to grow, change and speak freely.

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