Coming Full Circle An SLP works with children in the school where she once received stuttering treatment. First Person/Last Page
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First Person/Last Page  |   January 01, 2017
Coming Full Circle
Author Notes
  • Natalie Griffin, MS, CCC-SLP, is a school-based clinician in Klamath Falls, Oregon. She received her bachelor’s degree at Portland State University and her master’s degree at Pacific University. natalievanderpol@gmail.com
    Natalie Griffin, MS, CCC-SLP, is a school-based clinician in Klamath Falls, Oregon. She received her bachelor’s degree at Portland State University and her master’s degree at Pacific University. natalievanderpol@gmail.com×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / School-Based Settings / First Person/Last Page
First Person/Last Page   |   January 01, 2017
Coming Full Circle
The ASHA Leader, January 2017, Vol. 22, 72. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.22012017.72
The ASHA Leader, January 2017, Vol. 22, 72. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.22012017.72
On my first day of work as a speech-language pathologist, I was lucky to start my career at a familiar place, the elementary school I had attended from kindergarten through sixth grade. Lucky, yes, but also bittersweet—I was working as an SLP in the same room where I received treatment for stuttering.
I was identified as a child who stutters in first grade. I was stuck in a vicious circle throughout school—I would progress, be declared fluent and no longer eligible for speech, and then stuttering would creep back up on me when I least expected it. I would get up in front of the class for a presentation and stumble through it.
Kids would imitate my speech or ask why I talked “weird.” I couldn’t explain to them why I stuttered because I didn’t understand it myself. I thought I had failed speech therapy—that if I had worked hard enough, I wouldn’t still stutter. The only person I talked to about it was my high school SLP, who let me vent about whatever was causing me anxiety or distress. Her validation of my feelings about stuttering and her willingness to listen helped build my confidence despite my stutter. I began to give speeches in class and even got a job at a fast-food restaurant.
When I went to Portland State University (PSU), I was excited to leave my small town for the unknown. I had no idea that leaving my comfortable small-town bubble made my stuttering stand out even more. My professors were not like my old teachers, who let me give presentations after school or never raise my hand in class. I no longer had my “safe” person with whom I could discuss stuttering. I considered dropping out of school because the pressure of hiding stuttering was so high.
Signing up for winter classes, I saw a listing for “Survey of Speech and Language Disorders.” I thought that if I took this class, I could figure out why I still stuttered. When the day for discussing stuttering finally came, Glenn Weybright, an SLP who stutters, shared his story and talked about his practice in Portland. I had never met another person who stuttered, and I cried as I realized I wasn’t alone. At the end of class, I introduced myself to Glenn, and he recommended speech-language treatment at Portland State’s clinic. The student clinicians pushed me out of my comfort zone, but not uncomfortably so. After my treatment at PSU, I wanted every kid with a communication disorder to feel that they had a speech-language pathologist who was on their side and ready to fight for them.
Now, I provide speech-language services in the elementary, junior high and high school that I attended. I was fortunate enough to have my high school SLP as my clinical fellowship supervisor. She built up my confidence when I was a high school student, and she did the same for me as a new SLP.
My experiences as a person who stutters have shaped how I provide treatment: I follow the goals I write for my students, but I also try to build their self-esteem and give them a place where they are able to express their strengths and weaknesses.
1 Comment
January 3, 2017
Cynthia Holloway
Stuttering therapy works
Positive attitude and willingness to dissect speaking behavior is a huge part of success for stutterers! Congrats on your achievement! I live in Medford and would love to meet you! Cynthia Lee-Holloway MS Ed-SLP-CCC
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January 2017
Volume 22, Issue 1