Feelings and the acceptance spectrum in adult stuttering

A large-scale qualitative study


  • Angela M Medina Florida International University
  • Gretel Perez Florida International University




stuttering, qualitative, acceptance, feelings, attitudes, thematic analysis


Purpose: The purpose of this exploratory study was to describe the feelings about and attitudes toward stuttering expressed in the narrative responses of a large sample of adults who stutter.

Method: Eighty-eight adults who stutter answered an online survey questionnaire on their feelings about their stuttering. Thematic analysis was conducted to investigate the individual nuances of each participant’s response, which gave rise to general themes across the sample.

Results: Five major themes emerged from participants’ responses regarding their feelings about their stuttering: (I) negative feelings about stuttering; (II) negative attitudes toward stuttering; (III) negative impact on quality of life; (IV) the acceptance spectrum; and (V) exclusively positive feelings and attitudes about stuttering. Negative feelings included embarrassment and shame, frustration, and grief, while negative attitudes were hatred, dislike, and annoyance. Stuttering’s negative impact on participants’ lives in general as well as on specific aspects such as job interviews were described. Participants reported varying degrees of acceptance, highlighting that acceptance is not an ‘all or nothing’ phenomenon. Examples of positive feelings were confidence and comfort.

Conclusion: The vast majority of participants included negatively charged elements in their responses, and acceptance was largely described as being a fluid phenomenon, regardless of participants’ ages. Findings indicate clinical implications for addressing feelings, attitudes, and acceptance across the lifespan.

Author Biographies

Angela M Medina, Florida International University

Miami, Florida. She earned her PhD in applied language and speech sciences from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she also completed coursework and clinical requirements for the CCC-SLP. Dr. Medina teaches fluency disorders, phonological disorders, phonetics, and linguistics. Her program of research focuses on stuttering in Hispanic, Latino/-x, and Spanish–English bilingual communities. She has published and presented work on the linguistic construction of the Spanish–English bilingual stuttering experience, fluency-inducing strategies used by Spanish–English-speaking bilinguals who stutter, and stigma as experienced by Hispanics who stutter. In this line of research, Dr. Medina infuses her background in linguistics with her expertise in stuttering and qualitative research methods, in order to shed light on the cultural and clinical implications uniquely faced by people who stutter in these communities. As co-director of the Mindfulness Research Lab in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Dr. Medina is engaged in designing and testing the efficacy of mindfulness meditation programs for people who stutter, as well as graduate health sciences students. Dr. Medina is Research Chair and Miami Chapter Leader of the National Stuttering Association. She is a member of American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Special Interest Group 4: Fluency Disorders and 14: CD in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations.

Gretel Perez, Florida International University

Gretel Perez, MS, CF-SLP, received her master’s degree in speech-language pathology from Florida International University, where she graduated summa cum laude. She is completing her clinical fellowship in a neurology clinic, where she specializes in treating adults with neurological impairments affecting speech, language, cognition, and swallow function. She has experience in working with individuals with fluency disorders, including developmental stuttering, psychogenic stuttering, and neurogenic stuttering. She has volunteered for the National Stuttering Association’s Miami Chapter. She is licensed in the State of Florida and is a member of ASHA. Her clinical interests include fluency disorders, traumatic brain injury, stroke, aphasia, and cognitive disorders. Gretel strives to provide each of the clients she serves with the tools to be successful in making meaningful connections through communication.


Abdalla, F. A., & St. Louis, K. O. (2012). Arab school teachers’ knowledge, beliefs and reactions regarding stuttering. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 37(1), 54-69.

Alqhazo, M., Blomgren, M., Roy, N., & Abu Awwad, M. (2017). Discrimination and internalised feelings experienced by people who stutter in Jordan. International journal of speech-language pathology, 19(5), 519-528.

Anderson, T. K., & Felsenfeld, S. (2003). A thematic analysis of late recovery from stuttering. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12(2), 243-253.

Bennett, E. M. (2006). Working with people who stutter: A lifespan approach. Columbus, OH: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Blomgren, M., Roy, N., Callister, T., & Merrill, R. M. (2005). Intensive stuttering modification therapy. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 48(3), 509-523.

Blood, G. W., Blood, I. M., Tellis, G., & Gabel, R. (2001). Communication apprehension and self-perceived communication competence in adolescents who stutter. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 26(3), 161-178.

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative research in psychology, 3(2), 77-101.

Bricker-Katz, G., Lincoln, M., & McCabe, P. (2009). A life-time of stuttering: How emotional reactions to stuttering impact activities and participation in older people. Disability and rehabilitation, 31(21), 1742-1752.

Carter, N., Bryant-Lukosius, D., DiCenso, A., Blythe, J., & Neville, A. J. (2014, September). The use of triangulation in qualitative research. Oncology nursing forum, 41(5).

Carter, A., Breen, L., Yaruss, J. S., & Beilby, J. (2017). Self-efficacy and quality of life in adults who stutter. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 54, 14–23.

Clarke, V., & Braun, V. (2018). Using thematic analysis in counselling and psychotherapy research: A critical reflection. Counselling and psychotherapy research, 18(2), 107-110.

Cooper, E. B., & Cooper, C. S. (1985). Clinician attitudes towards stuttering: A decade of change (1973–1983). Journal of Fluency Disorders, 10, 19–23.

Corcoran, J. A., & Stewart, M. (1998). Stories of stuttering: A qualitative analysis of interview narratives. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 23(4), 247-264.

Craig, A. (1998). Relapse following treatment for stuttering: A critical review and correlative data. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 23(1), 1-30.

Craig, A. R., & Hancock, K. (1995). Self-reported factors related to relapse following treatment for stuttering. Australian Journal of Human Communication Disorders, 23(1), 48-60.

Craig, A., Blumgart, E., & Tran, Y. (2009). The impact of stuttering on the quality of life in adults who stutter. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 34(2), 61-71.

Crichton-Smith, I. (2002). Communicating in the real world: Accounts from people who stammer. Journal of fluency disorders, 27(4), 333-352.

Damico, J.S., & Simmons-Mackie, N.N. (2003). Qualitative research and speech-language pathology: A tutorial for the clinical realm. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12, 131-143.

Damico, J. S., Simmons-Mackie, N., Oelschlaeger, M., Elman, R., & Armstrong, E. (1999). Qualitative methods in aphasia research: Basic issues. Aphasiology, 13(9-11), 651-665.

Daniels, D. E., & Gabel, R. M. (2004). The impact of stuttering on identity construction. Topics in Language Disorders, 24(3), 200-215.

Daniels, D. E., Gabel, R. M., & Hughes, S. (2012). Recounting the K-12 school experiences of adults who stutter: A qualitative analysis. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 37(2), 71-82.

De Nardo, T., Gabel, R. M., Tetnowski, J. A., & Swartz, E. R. (2016). Self-acceptance of stuttering: A preliminary study. Journal of Communication Disorders, 60, 27–38.

Evans, D., Healey, E. C., Kawai, N., & Rowland, S. (2008). Middle school students’ perceptions of a peer who stutters. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 33(3), 203–219.

Finn, P., Howard, R., & Kubala, R. (2005). Unassisted recovery from stuttering: Self-perceptions of current speech behavior, attitudes, and feelings. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 30(4), 281-305.

Gabel, R. (2006). Effects of stuttering severity and therapy involvement on attitudes towards people who stutter. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 31, 216–227.

Ginsberg, A. P. (2000). Shame, self-consciousness, and locus of control in people who stutter. The Journal of genetic psychology, 161(4), 389-399.

Golafshani, N. (2003). Understanding reliability and validity in qualitative research. The qualitative report, 8(4), 597-606.

Guitar, B., & Bass, C. (1978). Stuttering therapy: The relation between attitude change and long-term outcome. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 43(3), 392-400.

Guntupalli, V. K., Kalinowski, J., Nanjundeswaran, C., Saltuklaroglu, T., & Everhart, D. E. (2006). Psychophysiological responses of adults who do not stutter while listening to stuttering. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 62(1), 1–8.

Healey, E.C., Trautman, L., & Susca, M. (2004). Clinical applications of a multidimensional approach for the assessment and treatment of stuttering. Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders, 31, 40-48.

Hughes, S., Gabel, R., Irani, F., & Schlagheck, A. (2010). University students’ explanations for their descriptions of people who stutter: An exploratory mixed model study. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 35(3), 280–298.

Hurst, M. I., & Cooper, E. B. (1983). Employer attitudes toward stuttering. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 8, 1–12.

Klompas, M., & Ross, E. (2004) Life experiences of people who stutter, and the perceived impact of stuttering on quality of life: Personal accounts of South African individuals. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 29(4),275-305

Koedoot C., Bouwmans C, Franken M.C., & Stolk E. (2011). Quality of life in adults who stutter. Journal of Communication Disorders, 44(4), 429-443.

Langevin, M., Packman, A., & Onslow, M. (2009). Peer responses to stuttering in the preschool setting. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 18, 264-276.

Manning, W. H., Dailey, D., & Wallace, S. (1984). Attitude and personality characteristics of older stutterers. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 9(3), 207-215.

Malterud, K. (2001). Qualitative research: standards, challenges, and guidelines. The Lancet, 358(9280), 483-488.

Medina, A. M., Pereira, T., Muñoz, D., Palacios, G., & Perez, V. (2019). Fluency Strategies of Spanish–English Bilinguals Who Stutter: A Thematic Analysis. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 1-12.

Menzies, R. G., Onslow, M., & Packman, A. (1999). Anxiety and stuttering: Exploring a complex relationship. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 8(1), 3-10.

Plexico, L., Manning, W. H., & DiLollo, A. (2005). A phenomenological understanding of successful stuttering management. Journal of fluency disorders, 30(1), 1-22

Plexico, L., Manning, W. H., & Levitt, H. (2009). Coping responses by adults who stutter: Part II. Approaching the problem and achieving agency. Journal of fluency disorders, 34(2), 108-126.

Ragsdale, J. D., & Ashby, J. K. (1982). Speech-language pathologists’ connotations of stuttering. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 25, 75–80.

Sheehan, J. G. (1970). Stuttering: Research and therapy. New York: Harper and Row

Swartz, E., Gabel, R., & Irani, F. (2009). Speech-language pathologists attitudes towards people who stutter. Canadian Journal of Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology, 33(2), 99–105.

Tomaiuoli, D., Gado, F., & Spinetti, M. (2015). Profiling people who stutter: A comparison between adolescents and adults. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 193, 266-273.

Tran, Y., Blumgart, E., & Craig, A. (2011). Subjective distress associated with chronic stuttering. Journal of fluency disorders, 36(1), 17-26.

Vanryckeghem, M., Hylebos, C., Brutten, G. J., & Peleman, M. (2001). The relationship between communication attitude and emotion of children who stutter. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 26(1), 1-15.

Yaruss, J. S. (2001). Evaluating treatment outcomes for adults who stutter. Journal of communication disorders, 34(1-2), 163-182.

Yaruss, J. S., & Quesal, R. W. (2006). Overall Assessment of the Speaker's Experience of Stuttering (OASES): Documenting multiple outcomes in stuttering treatment. Journal of fluency disorders, 31(2), 90-115.



How to Cite

Medina, A. M., & Perez, G. (2022). Feelings and the acceptance spectrum in adult stuttering: A large-scale qualitative study. Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, 13(2), 244–268. https://doi.org/10.1558/jircd.21174