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Putting a Human Face to the Diversity of Stuttering and Stammering

Posted by Natasha Sampson on 19th Jul 2018

Putting a Human Face to the Diversity of Stuttering and Stammering

Shining a Light on Stuttering: How one man used comedy to turn his impairment into applause

Shining a Light on Stuttering

What is Stammering?
Approximately one person in every hundred stammers and you may think that most of these people stammer in the same way. Well unfortunately it's not quite this simple! In fact, people stammer in many ways so that the term 'stammering' covers a wide range of behaviours. One person may get blocked or stuck on a certain word or sound (called "blocking"), another may repeat sounds, another may go back in speech and take a run at the difficult word, and yet another may do all these things and many more.

Who is Jaik Campbell?
Jaik Campbell is a stand-up comedian notable for his appearances at the internationally renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, the London comedy circuit, and British television. Jaik’s quest to excel in these highly competitive settings was made even more difficult by his personal battle with a lifelong stutter. What he discovered was that stuttering and stand-up can be mutually beneficial, powerful and positive, and an encouragement and inspiration to stutterers and non-stutterers alike.

Why is this Stuttering textbook unique?
By creatively balancing Jaik’s inspirational story with clearly-presented and current information about stuttering, the authors provide readers with academic, diagnostic, therapeutic, and personal perspectives of this mysterious disorder.

“The short answer to what differentiates this book from others is that it also serves as a case report. It is one thing to learn prevalence rates, symptoms, developmental phases, treatment philosophies, etc., but it is also important to put a human face on the condition. The twelve-year-old boy does not only present part-word disfluencies in 10% of his speech; he also dreads school every day because of the smirks and giggles he hears each time he talks. The 32-year-old accountant does not just deal with occasional one-second breaks of speech; she fears her next possible promotion because it involves more speaking.”
– Professor Dale Williams

Over the years Professor Williams taught courses in fluency disorders to graduate students, some of whom had already been assigned stuttering clients and all of whom were conducting outside research for course presentations. What this experience taught him was that stuttering is not typically learned in the order in which information is regularly presented in textbooks - definition, then onset, then development, etc. Instead, students assimilated information out of sequence and filled in the gaps as they proceed through the semester. 

“This is not to say that organization of material isn't important. It clearly is, and the book is not without organization. I am simply saying that stuttering is a human condition and, as such, its many aspects do not present themselves sequentially. Our text reflects that process.”
– Professor Dale Williams

Furthermore, Professor Williams understands this textbook is not for everyone and that it comes down to a matter of teaching style. Although, when reviewing the book, many colleagues said they had been looking for something exactly like this textbook - a way to constantly remind students that stuttering as an academic area consists of both research results and human beings with unique hopes, dreams, and ambitions. While other colleagues preferred to provide that message on their own and select a course text to serve as a resource that covers only research and theory. 

‘I take no issue with that, having read many such resources that are outstanding. But I also understand that my book is a better fit for some instructors.”
– Professor Dale Williams

Click here for Shining a Light on Stuttering eBook

Click here for Shining a Light on Stuttering Hardback

Click here to see Jaik Campbell on YouTube explaining about his journey, work and book and why he thinks it is important to raise the awareness of stammering.