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Re: Speech Therapy
— by joshualane joshualane
Brooke,

Yes, that is helpful. I want to note that we are not completely writing off all speech pathologists, as people, but rather critiquing the practise and discourse of speech pathology. I think this is an important difference. That is, there is a difference when a speech pathologist speaks to us as a person and when they speak to us as a speech pathologist with the "expert" authority of the discourse of speech pathology behind them. Or, in academic terms, with "discursive" authority. This fundamentally changes the relationship.   For example, I wrote a blog post on speech therapy a couple days ago and linked it to a Facebook stuttering group. Some of the responses were telling insofar as it was clear that the discourse of speech language pathology was being used in attempts to reassert authority over stuttering bodies. I agree this has something to do with the personalities and motivations of individual SLPs, but I think discursive authority cannot *not* be wielded by SLPs. This is true, I think, even if SLP is understood in terms of coaching rather than treating. 

This is all preamble to my main point. I am hypothetically okay with SPLs becoming part of this movement but I am also wary of this for two reasons. 

First, this needs to be a movement of stuttering voices. While there is strength in numbers, as you say, in a general sense, there is not strength in numbers if our voices end up being co-opted by speech language pathologists. It is very important that our voices drive this movement and that we are heard *on our own terms*.

Second, and related, I believe it is very easy--especially in the early stages of movements--for our goals to be watered down. That is, I can easily imagine people saying "so what you mean is that we just need to accept ourselves and get others to accept us too. Got it." rather than understanding that our aims are far more radical. (I.e., Dismantling the very logic of pathologization). Strength in numbers often comes at the cost of settling for a lowest common denominator. 

With this being said, I would be incredibly happy if SLPs joined what we are doing! I agree with you that in the long run, we will likely want access to political attention so that our movement can enact greater social change. So we are trying to walk many delicate lines here. We don't intend to categorically exclude all SLPs since we recognize them as potential allies. At the same time, it is incredibly important that we are heard on our own terms, and the discursive authority that comes with speech language pathology inherently produces obstacles to this goal which cannot simply be overcome with good will. These are surely not obstacles impossible to overcome, but this process will require much thought on both of our sides, as well as a relinquishing of (discursive) authority over stuttering bodies on the part of SLPs. In other words, we need to be the experts over our own bodies. 

Best,

Josh


On Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 7:34 PM, Brooke Leiman [via Did I Stutter?] <[hidden email]> wrote:

Joshua-

Your last post did help me better understand the movement you are aligning yourself.  With that being said, I still feel as though there are power in numbers and by completing writing off all speech pathologists (I agree you have to write off some and I can probably give you some names :) ), you are alienating A LOT of people who might help your cause and care very much about "speaking back against the institutions and forces that (complexly) create and discriminate against our voices."  By working to educate and encourage speech pathologists to join your movement, not only might you have a stronger voice  (more people involved, not to mention people who might be helpful in gaining government/political attention), but you will also have more power in bringing much need education and awareness to speech professionals who might otherwise see stuttering differently.

On a side note: I understand that the very name of our profession, Speech Pathologists, carries a connotation that something is wrong.  Maybe there is something to be said about changing the name :) I know I often tell my clients to think of me as a speech coach.  When you're out on the football field, the coach isn't there because you have a problem playing football (you've already made the team now), but rather they are there to give you support when challenges arise.  The challenge does NOT have to be stuttering and how fluent they are, rather the challenge for many of my clients is often "speaking back against the institutions..." or in other words, educating themselves and their peers, teachers and community on stuttering so that they can speak freely, reduce the negatives feelings they have about their speech/stuttering and reduce the impact of stuttering has on their lives.  
 








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