Make Room For The Stuttering

Guest Blogger: Tone Tells It

Posted on: April 17, 2010

** I have asked some of the amazing people I met while visiting the UK to share some of their feelings about this experience. This is the second of several guest posts. **

Friends and feelings – Our meet-up in Milton Keynes UK (Tone from Norway)

I had met Lisa before, when she was brave enough to come visit me in Norway. I was so looking forward to seeing her again it almost hid how nervous I was about meeting everyone else. I felt like I already knew most of the people I was going to meet, because we’ve all talked so much on Skype, Twitter and Facebook. But meeting in person and living together for a week is something completely different. However, Ridwan and Pam turned out to be very similar to what I had imagined, and meeting them was wonderful!

I had also arranged for us to meet Leys Geddes, the chairman of the British Stammering Association (BSA). I got to know Leys about a year and a half ago. I had watched his videos on YouTube many times and found what he said very true and inspirational. Leyes wrote a great paper for ISAD -08 about a topic we actually discussed when we met. I commented on this paper, and realized he was the same person from the videos.

I went back to watch, and noticed that someone had made a stupid comment about his video. Now that made me mad, as I’m of the opinion that if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut. Anyway, I wrote back to this silly person in Leys’ defense, and after that, we started e-mailing each other. I asked him a million and one questions about stuttering, because I really wanted to know. And he patiently answered every single one. Great guy, huh?!

I was very much looking forward to meeting him and to introduce my friends to him as well, as I knew he’s a wonderful and smart man. They loved him! I was right!

We arranged to meet at Trafalgar Square. He took Ridwan, Pam, Lisa and me to the National Gallery and bought us all coffee. Of course we talked about stuttering. We even made a video where we talked about how PWS need to advertise more, in order to create awareness about stuttering in the world. The “stuttering world” is still so small that pretty much everyone knows each other. We need for “fluents” to get it too. And the only way to do that is to teach them.

Leys has worked hard for a long time now trying to get rid of “cure commercials”. He has made great progress both in the UK, on You Tube and with Google. He has some great videos on You Tube, where he explains what stuttering is and that classifying the videos as comedy isn’t very nice. More and more people post videos of themselves talking about stuttering now. They explain what it’s like for them, and what stuttering is. It seems to me that it’s helping.

More and more people are opening their eyes and learning about stuttering, and the fact that it isn’t something to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. I have to believe that Leys and the other wonderful people who put themselves out there should get credit for this. And I think we all agreed in the café that people need to be more open about stuttering. Not just to other stutterers, but also to the rest of the world.

Thank you Tone for taking such risks. For you have! You wrote this for us and shared how it felt to be a part of this wonderful experience. You risked coming to the UK and lived with two other people for a week. You arranged for us to meet with a very influential person in the stuttering community. You came with us to a stuttering support group and actively participated for two hours. You are fluent and know more about stuttering than a lot of SLPs I know. You understand that the only way to learn about experiences different from our own is to walk that path. Thank you for being you and for helping to de-mystify stuttering.

Readers: what do you think of a “fluent” wanting to spend so much time and energy trying to understand the stuttering experience? Feel free to leave comments or to ask Tone a question. A lot of people will benefit when Tone becomes a SLP. She “gets it”.

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