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Practical Thoughts Blog

How Do We Talk about President Biden's Stutter with Our Students?

How Do We Talk about President Biden's Stutter with Our Students?

THIS is a frequently asked question, as it is a current (and will be for a while) topic of discussion.

We wanted to help out by providing some TALKING POINT ideas for lessons with your students as you discuss President Biden’s (or any public personality’s) stuttering.

FOR CERTAIN, this discussion will have NOTHING to do with politics! It is about shining a light on ending stigma of stuttering in our society, in our homes and classrooms, and in our therapy rooms.

Let’s take each concept and expand it with talking points. 

1. President Biden still stutters
Even if people do not see President Biden’s stutter often, know that he is not “cured” of stuttering. PRO-Tip: What we see on the outside is not what the speaker who stutters is experiencing.
No matter how “fluent” President Biden appears, it is imperative that our students realize he is dealing with his stuttering in his own, individual way and that everyone’s way to deal with their stuttering is going to be different!

2. “Overcoming stuttering” has many meanings
President Biden talks about overcoming stuttering, but we must make certain to let our students know that this means different things to different people.
What it DOES NOT mean is that the leader of our country claims to be cured.
Ask your students what they think “overcoming stuttering” means, and then open the frame of the discussion to include ideas such as (not an exhaustive list):

🧗‍♂️Overcoming fighting and hiding and struggling with stuttering
🧗‍♂️Overcoming fear of speaking with a stutter
🧗‍♂️Overcoming fear of listener reactions
🧗Overcoming trying to be fluent - at the cost of authentic communication
🧗‍♂️Overcoming societal (or self-) stigma
--and many more.

3. Focus on Resilience
President Biden demonstrates that, even though he had some tough times with his stuttering, he “bounced back” and tried to move himself forward to achieve his dreams.
Our students WILL face biases and stereotypes. Our role is to help them build their resilience and abilities to validate their own feelings in those moments, and to not allow the opinions of others to impact their self-esteem.

4. It doesn’t DEFINE him
President Biden’s message continues to resound in our thoughts, “Stuttering doesn’t define you.” [even if it feels that way at times] He said it on camera to #BraydenHarrington, and he has repeated it in speeches to stuttering community organizations over and over! It IS OK to stutter and your students need to hear it and know -by what you say and what you do -that you believe it!

5. When you have met one person who stutters, then you have met one person who stutters.
As mentioned above, President Biden’s story of stuttering is exactly that; HIStory! His experiences, his work with his own speech, his way of dealign with stuttering is a study of ONE. Our students do not need to “do what he did,” nor search for successful people who stutter and find out what “they did.” These personal stories can inform and inspire, but it is OUR role to make certain that each of our students find their own ways-in their own time!

We hope this information is helpful!
Here is a link to an article that supports the information we presented in this blog:
https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-president-joe-biden-is-giving-hope-to-millions-who-stutter

Feel free to reach out to us anytime at info@StutteringTherapyResources.com

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