An Interview with Jeff Nelson from Fluent Rolls

The stuttering community is many things; innovative, welcoming, and supportive to name a few. In this community there are many people who are impacting lives daily, changing the mindsets of so many who stutter, and inspiring those who want to learn more. Recently, we were inspired by Jeff Nelson, a man who is breaking down stuttering barriers through the art of JiuJitsu on his platform “Fluent Rolls” 

Jiu-Jitsu is a form of martial arts that combines combat, discipline, and skill.  

Who is Jeff Nelson? 

Jeff Nelson is a New England native. Growing up, his stutter dominated many aspects of his life. He was bullied through many years of schooling, which ultimately led him to close himself off to many people and things around him. He remembers his childhood confidence as practically nonexistent. That is until he found Jiu-Jitsu.  

When Jeff hit his mid 20’s he found his passion. As a college rugby player, he was always active. Yet he never felt truly connected to any sports that he played. Since he was always interested in martial arts, he decided to try Jiu-Jitsu, and he never looked back.  

“It was the island of misfit toys that I was always looking for. It brought together people from all income levels, races, and religions.”  

JiuJitsu became his sanctuary. Jeff’s life started to revolve around the sport. He began competing all over the world, traveling to Iceland, the Dominican Republic, and Brazil. With each trip, he found new opportunities, meeting new people, and gaining new experiences.  

Although he was hesitant at first, he started coaching children, and it soon became a life-changing experience. Jeff connected with each child, realizing that he could truly impact their lives for the better. From that idea, Fluent rolls was born.  

What is Fluent Rolls? 

Fluent rolls is a community. The platform is meant to help kids and teens with stutters gain confidence through the practice of Jiu-Jitsu.  

Jeff wanted to combine the avenue he found of self-improvement with his own childhood experience to create a place for kids who are going through what he went through. He aims to show that anyone can build confidence.  

What are the future plans for this community?  

Jeff has big plans for the fluent rolls community. He dreams of one day opening his own school where he can combine his passion for Jiu-Jitsu to help his community. He imagines holding an annual open mat for people who stutter to participate in and where all proceeds can be donated to a prominent stuttering organization. His selfless demeanor even dreams of creating his own nonprofit, and building a network of Fluent Rolls affiliated schools all over the country. 

“Find something to define yourself by that’s not your stutter.”  

His advice is powerful and true. Without his stutter he wouldn’t have met the amazing people he did, travel to the unique places he went, obe the person that he is. While his stutter has certainly impacted his life, Jeff Nelson is much more than a person who stutters. He is an advocate, an inspiration, and a big dreamer. We feel fortunate to share his story and cannot wait to see the progression of the Fluent Rolls community.  

An interview with Keenan Tully, Nascar hopeful

Every person who stutters has a unique story. One that embodies their own individual struggles, and successes. Recently, we were fortunate enough to connect with Keenan Tully, a 21-year-old race car driver who proves that having a stutter doesn’t need to stop you from pursuing your dreams.  

Keenan’s Story

Keenan first noticed his stutter when he was 4 years old. As he struggled with gaining weight, he found his confidence decreasing and his stutter increasing. As a child he often hid himself from people, not allowing many interactions and limiting conversation. Avoidance became his norm. What conversations he did have were full of adaptations, changing what he was going to say halfway through a sentence to avoid stuttering.  

Suddenly, when Keenan turned 16, his life changed. An offer to race in the U.S. brought opportunity and motivation. Keenan knew that in order to progress his racing career he needed to improve his self-confidence. When someone on the other side of the world noticed his budding potential, Keenan knew he needed to believe in himself too. He made great strides in his physical health. This step was monumental in gaining confidence and beginning to accept himself.  

Now, when thinking about his relationship with his stutter, Keenan notes how important it was for him to accept himself in order to live his life truly to the fullest.  

Keenan’s Advice

To others who struggle with stuttering;

“Try not to hide it. I hid it for a long time, it forced me to stay inside. Embrace it as part of who you are and you can even teach others acceptance.”  

Keenan’s words reign true. Once he began to embrace his stutter, he was able to empower others through sharing his story. In doing so, he has joined a community of people who stutter and advocates all over the world. Here at Speechagain, we are honored to share his story and pass along his message of acceptance. 

Keenan x Speechagain 

For Keenan, the thought of speech therapy was always daunting. His hesitation towards treatment stopped him from ever trying a traditional stuttering therapy. Our recent partnership has allowed Keenan to gain access to the Speechagain program. He has been taking control of his speech on his own terms. He especially loves the modern gamification of the program and admires the fact that he can practice his speech anytime, anywhere. We are so glad to see that Speechagain is positively impacting Keenan and so many others like him.

Speech therapy should be individually tailored towards every unique individual, and with Speechagainit can be.  

Speechagain Hosts Live Chat with ASHA

Speechagain was honored to host a Live Chat event with ASHA, discussing all things stuttering, as well as the Speechagain program.

Speech Pathologists recently made a quick transition from treating stuttering in-person, to now virtual. Managing this abrupt change can be challenging. Some questions SLPs had were: Where do you find new online speech resources? How can you continue empowering your stuttering clients? What challenges and successes have you found?

During the Live Chat, the panelists discussed the foundation of treating stuttering and the research to support these methods. This included a study of face to face vs online treatment (Wolff von Gudenberg & Euler, 2016) that found no difference in efficacy for either modality. The panelists and attendees problem solved any challenges that SLPs may have been encountering. Attending SLPs built actionable strategies to realize the full potential of children and adults who stutter.

Panelists included:

  • Alexander Wolff von Gudenberg, PhD, Director of PARLO Research Institute
  • Mallory Stempfley, MA, CCC-SLP, Chief of Speech-Language Pathology, Speechagain
  • Michael Blomgren, PhD, CCC-SLP, ASHA-F, Department Chair, University of Utah

Keep reading below for a sneak peek of the chat:

Question 1: What resources would you recommend as “must haves” when working with preschool clients who stutter? Thank You!

Answer: Great question! Speechagain is mainly for adults/young adults, but a children’s program is in the works! I would recommend researching on ASHA and looking to the National Stuttering Association for information. With my experience working with elementary-aged, education was key! We used a lot of technology to provide voice recordings for the client to increase their awareness and hear the “before” and “after”. Also, of course, visuals! Anything that allows them to visualize easing into the word, such as a slide, a train slowly going around a track, moving their finger along a rainbow image, etc.

The main resources for working with children are knowledge about the various approaches. I review the two primary approaches for preschool children: multifactorial treatments and the operant conditioning approaches (e.g., Lidcombe) in a paper I’ve linked below:
Zoom (and its cousins) will be with us forever moving forward. While many of us are “zoom’d out” these days, it really can be a wonderful tool to keep up with parents of preschool and school-aged children who stutter.

Question 2: Question 2: How has COVID impacted speechagain clients? How have you helped them through this difficult time?

Answer: COVID has been interesting for Speechagain. As we were already a digital tool, ourselves and our clients really didn’t need to adapt to anything different. Of course, the impact was felt emotionally though, and possibly even financially. We worked with a lot of our clients to support them in any way that we could. Our team has a great customer service team that even just chats with users when they need a little motivation or support. As a Speechagain family, we all feel connected and supported during this time!

Question 3: How do you deal with multiple SLPs using this on the same client? Should everyone have their own account?

Answer: Mainly all of our users are assigned to just one SLP, and vice versa. We haven’t come across the situation of multiple SLPs sharing one client, but if this were the case I would recommend sharing a Speechagain SLP account. That way the client is only linked to one SLP account and you only have to look to one spot for all the data and information. The account could be created as an institution, such as your practice name, as opposed to using your individual information. Hope that makes sense!

A full transcript of the chat can be found here. 

Big thank you to ASHA for partnering with us!

An interview with Delton Harper

Delton Harper is a charismatic husband from Texas who enjoys reading, writing, and music. Oh…and he’s a person who stutters! Recently, we’ve had the chance to chat with Delton (virtually of course) to learn about his experience as a person who stutters.  

Delton noted that his first experience with stuttering wasn’t until he began school. He had never known the term to describe the way he spoke because for him that was just Delton! It’s hard to believe from our chat with this confident young man, but he admitted that he hated his stutter growing up. He described the evolution of his relationship with his stutter and how he has now become so much more secure in himself. It was wonderful to see him speak so confidently about the insecurity that once took a toll on his approach to life. A few years back he reached a turning point in his journey as a PWS. Delton took to Facebook live to confront his stutter head-on. In a bold and inspiring portrayal, he spoke to his family and friends about his journey as a PWS. Through this he was able to tell his story on his own terms, taking back control. 

Deltons advice to the stuttering community inspires confidence and hope. “Stuttering will only be what you allow it to be” he stated. He emphasized the importance of taking back your voice. Delton does not let the way he speaks define the person he is. Through his experience with tackling his stutter, he was able to reach a state of mindfulness. One that allowed him to evaluate his own life in a new way.

We admire Delton for his courage in sharing his story and his passion to continue to raise awareness both inside and out of the stuttering community. Having an open conversation allowed us both to gain more insight while expanding our community. We hope to continue the conversation and further our relationship by listening and learning. Thank you, Delton, for your wonderful perspective!