This is a threaded discussion page for the International Stuttering Awareness Day Online Conference paper,
Stuttering and Communication: What is Going Wrong? by Hermann Christmann.



Language problem

From: Ed Feuer
Date: 10/2/98
Time: 7:54:52 PM
Remote Name: 207.161.63.2

Comments

Hermann, I dont know what the situation is in Danish, but in English the language is loaded against us, and
that is an important factor in the unfair discrimination. The difference between the every day, conversationsal
use of the terms stuttering and stammering to mean humiliating hestitancy in speech of fluent speakers and
what an SLP would define as stuttering is like the difference between feeling depressed and clinical depression
 or like the difference between fried eggs and glottal fry. The negative connotations are found in everything
from good and bad literature to comic books, newspapers and movies  everything from what the thief does
when hes caught in the act to an adjective describing government policy. "Stuttering" and "stammering" is
treated variously as a sign of weakness, shame, guilt, humiliation, stupidity, incompetence, dishonor,
incapability, lack of credence, ineffectuality, inarticulateness, vacillation, defectiveness and cowardice. And
what do you think happens with these negative sterotypes when people meet someone who really does stutter?

Re: Language problem

From: Hermann Christmann
Date: 10/5/98
Time: 8:55:50 AM
Remote Name: 130.227.107.26

Comments

ED, 

The words "stuttering" and "stutterer" (in Danish: "stammen" and "stammer") certainly are perojatives. And
they are connected with negative stereotypes and negative associations regarding the stuttering person. 

On the other hand, we face a validation problem when asking for answers on stuttering etc. on questionnaires,
because we dont know excactly what people understand by "stuttering". 

An interesting question is, when in a developing relationship (eg. in an employment situation) are people
changing attitudes from gazing at a "stutterer" to talking with "Peter", "Paul", or "Mary". - In the latter
situation less prone to descriminizing against the person who stutters. 

Hermann 

Re: Language problem, spelling

From: Hermann Christmann
Date: 10/5/98
Time: 8:58:45 AM
Remote Name: 130.227.107.26

Comments

The funny word should read "pejorative". I dont know if it is correctly spelt in English, have not been able to
look it up. 

Hermann


Stereotyping and experience

From: LH
Date: 10/3/98
Time: 12:14:18 PM
Remote Name: 155.247.228.155

Comments

Hermann: Thank you for an interesting synopsis of the problem of sereotyping and expectations. What you
say is not too different from what I found in a survey I recently did about Icelandic teachers' behaviors
towards children who stutter. I found that those who had had training in handling stuttering and those who
had experiene teaching stutterers had both a better attitude towards children who stutter and chose more
appropriate teaching methods. 

So. In two major areas of life, education and employment, the real enemy seems to be ignorance. The
challenge is how to combat that. Any ideas? Did that excellent Danish TV docudrama about the founder of the
Carlsburg brewery, who was a stutterer, have any effect on the general level of familiarity with stuttering in
Denmark? 

Lou Heite


Re: Stereotyping and experience

From: Hermann Christmann
Date: 10/5/98
Time: 8:45:14 AM
Remote Name: 130.227.107.26

Comments

Louise, 

What to do? Inform, inform, inform the public until the Last Day. 

And the other side of the coin: The stutterers have to work with their stuttering, and we have to work with our
feelings in regard to our stuttering. 

The son of the founder of the Danish brewery group Carlsberg stuttered. His story was shown on Danish
Television one or two years ago and elicited some attention. The Danish Stuttering Association put ads in the
papers the days after the shows and thus gained a number of new members. By now, Carl and his stuttering is
forgotten in the public, his remains though, the beer, is not. 

Hermann



Educating employers

From: Joann Bergemann
Date: 10/6/98
Time: 5:08:52 PM
Remote Name: 134.29.30.79

Comments

How do you feel employers should be "educated" about stuttering to avoid stigma?


Re: Educating employers

From: Hermann Christmann
Date: 10/8/98
Time: 3:39:16 AM
Remote Name: 130.227.107.26

Comments

Dear Joann, 

Good Question, if I only knew the answer :_) 

There is a positive correlation between level of knowledge and positive attitudes. If employers got the
opportunity to work with a person who stutters, and to see for himself, that a stutterer is quite a normal person
with strong sides and with weak sides just like everybody else, stutterer or not. Then many of these
employers would change their attitudes. Some would not, of course, hence we should concentrate on the
positive ones among employers and in some way persuade them by informing, perhaps by economic
incentives to employing a person who stutters. On the other hand, the better qualified the stutterer is, the
greater the likelihood af "offsetting" a normally negatively regarded characteristik like stuttering. And - to
return to an element in my article - try to be good at establishing a good relationship with your interlocutor, be
it at an employment interview or be it in other situations in our lives. At an interview be open about stuttering,
but on the other hand you should not let stuttering fill a substantial part of a job interview, focus on
qualifications rather than on possible constraints. 

Short question - long answer! 

Hermann

Employer Ignorance

From: Ed Feuer
Date: 10/7/98
Time: 1:54:37 AM
Remote Name: 207.161.140.37

Comments

There is a study entitled Developing Assertiveness During Employment Interviews With Young Adults Who
Stutter which appeared in the Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, Volume 52, 30-36, February 1987.
The authors are Schloss, Espin, Smith and Suffolk. It says: "Prior to baseline, seven common misconceptions
regarding stuttering were identified by the investigators based on an informal meeting with employers. These
were: stuttering is associated with low intelligence, stuttering is associated with personality problems,
stutterers are unable to work in social situations, stutterers are unable to handle emergencies, stutterers are
unable to use the phone, stutterers work at a slower rate, and stutterers require special attention and emotional
support." 

People who stutter know the consequences of these misconceptions only too well. If more SLPs understood
what PWS are and have been up against,they might agree that radical new concepts for the treatment of
stuttering in adults are necessary. And if the public were better informed about stuttering, that would help
lower communicative stress.  Ed Feuer


Re: Employer Ignorance

From: Hermann Christmann
Date: 10/15/98
Time: 6:57:19 AM
Remote Name: 130.227.107.26

Comments

Ed, 

I aggree with you. But I also think that we ourselves have an important role to play. In every personal
communication situation there are two parties, and we are one of the parties, hence, our behavior (in a broad
sense) is as important as the other person's behavior. 

In every communicative situation we have the opportunity to change the world (at least the world of our
interlocutor). We are the only ones who have the knowledge to teach the others about our situation and
circumstances. That is our responsibility and our challenge. And it IS DIFFICULT to keep the good spirit up
all the time. Therefore we should allow ourselves to give ourselves a brake from time to time with a good
consciousness. 

Hermann


Discrimination

From: Chuck Goldman
Date: 10/9/98
Time: 5:37:40 PM
Remote Name: 152.163.205.59

Comments

Why should we believe that discrimination directed toward stuterers is anything different, at its source, than
any other kind of discrimination. Ignorance and fear are clearly key, When the stutterer truly becomes a PWS
rather than a "stutterer" he will help eliminate the prejudice and aid in helping those unfamiliar with stuttering
to be less ignorant.


Re: Discrimination

From: Hermann Christmann, back home again
Date: 10/15/98
Time: 6:46:51 AM
Remote Name: 130.227.107.26

Comments

Chuck, I too believe that discrimination against stutterers or stuttering is of the same nature than any other
kind of discrimination against "something". 

Your are raising an interesting question: Is it the "stutterer" or the "stuttering" that is discriminated against? It
certainly alleviates much if the stutterer is open about stuttering etc. and is capable of changing the stuttering
pattern thus signaling that stuttering is not anything constantly, but highly variable. 

Was that an answer to your comment? 

Hermann



Re: Discrimination

From: Ed Feuer
Date: 10/16/98
Time: 12:55:25 PM
Remote Name: 207.161.63.88

Comments

It is not suffiicient to simply bemoan discrimination in such forums. One way there could be progress in this
area is if the discrimination problem were addressed at the source. The professional bodies representing
speech therapists as well as stuttering self-help groups could make direct representation to human resouces
and personnel associations and their publications, pointing out how their companies lose by unfair
discrimination against people who stutter. Quite often these gatekeepers screen out stuttering job applicants on
the basis of ignorance-based stereotypes before they even have a chance to meet the people doing the hiring.
 Ed Feuer


Re: Discrimination

From: Hermann Christmann
Date: 10/20/98
Time: 12:47:04 AM
Remote Name: 130.227.107.26

Comments

Ed, 

I aggree, information on any level is indeed warranted. 

That don't, however, exclude the necessity of gathering information ie. doing research in stuttering and its
consequences and their ramifications. 

Hermann



Comment on "..."Stuttering and Comunication

From: James High
Date: 10/17/98
Time: 11:02:00 AM
Remote Name: 209.105.114.27

Comments

As a practicing SLP, I would agree that PWS are discriminated against in the workplace. However, the
reaction observed by fluent speakers to stuttering is truly emotional. I remember working with stutterers in our
undergrad clinic and feeling like I was stuttering worse than they were when the sessions ended. That was a
very uncomfortable feeling even though I knew something about stuttering.This comment was shared by
others who worked with stutterers. I can imagine a potential employer would feel uncomfortable also,
although that is not an excuse for discrimination. In discussion with people outside of the field of
Communication, whenever someone finds out my profession, nearly always the first question from them is
about stuttering and then comments about someone they knew who stuttered. This is usually the only
comment made about the profession. Apparently, stuttering makes people nervous. 

Re: Comment on "..."Stuttering and Comunication

From: Hermann Christmann
Date: 10/18/98
Time: 4:17:57 AM
Remote Name: 130.227.107.26

Comments

James, 

I aggree with you. People (also employers) get uncertain or nervous when talking to a stutterer. Probably
because we as stutterers ourselves are uncertain (vs. our stuttering, our expectations of the other's reactions,
our feeling of not being able to communicate etc.) I feel that we, therefore, have a very active part to play in
this "game", namely the part of calming the waters. How this is done is the great question. 

Hermann 

PS. It is not quite clear to me if you are a PWS or if you were faking stuttering in your clinic. It certainly is a
scaring experience to many people to fake stuttering. HC.


Stuttering & Discrimination

From: Cheryl Townsend
Date: 10/21/98
Time: 10:54:09 PM
Remote Name: 204.87.201.152

Comments

Discrimination in the workplace is definitely evident when it comes to "stuttering". I am curious as to how
your sample was chosen when deriving your statistical data? What type of companies,how many
questionnaires sent, any specific criteria used? I strongly believe that stuttering awareness needs to begin at
home, by that I mean with our field as SLPs. We cannot expect for others outside our field to fully
understand, and respect the rights of PWS when we ourselves are scared to take on the responsibility of
therapeutic intervention. I have seen and heard of many SLPs who refuse or avoid the opportunities to work
with PWS because of their own personal fears and anxieties. Why should we expect our frantic and highly
technical society to accept PWS as employees if SLPs are shirking their roles as speech & language providers
to those in need? 


Re: Stuttering & Discrimination

From: Hermann Christmann
Date: 10/22/98
Time: 4:27:38 AM
Remote Name: 130.227.107.26

Comments

Cheryl, 

Thank you for your question & comment. 

The sample was drawn by random in a region that is much like a "mini-Denmark" and thus representative for
the whole country. The sample was drawn among 5 lines of trade (agriculture, fishing etc, industrial
production, trade, provate services, and public services). 1408 companies with 2+ persons working in them
received a questionnaire, and 721 returned it. 

To your further comments I can only say, that some SLP's certainly are reluctant toward working with
stuttering. This is unfortunate because one by-product of therapy may be she stutterers to be more open about
their stuttering thus becoming better communicators not eliciting fears and prejudices among their
conversational partners. 

Hermann



Stuttering and discrimination

From: Ed Feuer
Date: 10/22/98
Time: 12:06:25 PM
Remote Name: 207.161.63.233

Comments

Hermann, It could be that those SLPs who are reluctant to treat stuttering recognize that they lack competence
in this area, and that a comprehensive strategy is required. I would hope that the profession itself would
admit, sooner than later, that what is required to treat stuttering in adults  with genuine long-term efficacy
 is a coordinated multidisciplinary team approach.  Ed Feuer edfeuer@escape.ca 


Re: Stuttering and discrimination

From: Hermann Christmann
Date: 10/23/98
Time: 2:59:50 AM
Remote Name: 130.227.107.26

Comments

Ed, 

I think you are pointing at a problem there. The profession as such, though, I believe is recognizing this
problem too. But there admittedly are SLPs who are reluctant to treat stuttering. The problem is that you cant
force them (and I would not feel like be treated by a reluctant therapist). In my own work in the field, I am
concentrating on the Bright Side of Life, ie. working with those who are enthusiastic. Hoping that the
reluctant ones - for whatever reason they are reluctant - may be motivated by positive news from the more
enthusiastic ones. In my view motivation is a key factor - intertwined with sufficient training etc. 

Thank you for your comments. 

Hermann