Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Road Less Travelled

One of my favorite books is The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck. It is a great book for personal fulfillment and self growth as well as highly recommended reading. Let me know your thoughts on this or any other self help book you feel is worth recommending.

I also have always loved the title. I definitely took the road less travelled in my professional life. After being an accountant for five years and not feeling satisfied, I went back to school for my masters in speech pathology. How strange was that? I stuttered severely and couldn't even say my own name. I had been through speech therapy with fluency only lasting a few days. I hadn't even heard of the concept of acceptance at that time and was always hiding my stuttering. The word "stutter" would bring chills to my spine. I was petrifed about sounding different. However, I had a strong drive to help people and had witnessed my father work as a pharmacist despite his stuttering. I also have a wonderful friend who stutters who was completing her speech degree at that time. I have and continue to admire her courage as she failed public speaking twice due to her stuttering and never gave up. She is a speech pathologist today and continues to be my dear friend and someone I admire for her strength and courage.

I thought I would talk about acceptance and then recovery. I never know the right words to use. Is it recovery from stuttering? Is it overcoming stuttering? Not sure, but the important thing is the outcome. My stuttering was always like spinning a roulette wheel. You never knew what would come out. I would go through somewhat fluent periods and then it would come back full force. I didn't like the lack of control. My stuttering pattern changed often and I was truthfully exhausted thinking about it all the time. About 5 years ago, I started to feel like a failure. No one could understand why. After all, at that time, I was a speech pathologist for over 10 years, had two beautiful daughters and a supportive husband. However, I still was switching words, petrified of public speaking and embarrassed by my stuttering. So, slowly I decided to "come out" and not hide anymore. There was the acceptance piece but then I decided to strive towards "recovery" because I was still stuttering alot and felt so much tension in my larnyx. By that time, I had years of fluency shaping therapy behind me but little involving the cogntive aspects of stuttering. I wanted it all and wasn;t giving up until I found inner peace. Over the last 5 years, I read numerous self help books, got involved in the National Stuttering Association (great organization, www.westutter.org), started to use my fluency shaping tools and to my delight found they worked often. I had to practice and go for some additional speech therapy, but honestly practicing with others who used the same tools I did helped the most.

I can now pick up the phone without fear, go into a doctor's office and communicate, talk into a microphone and spread the word about stuttering treatment and work with wonderful clients who stutter. I still do stutter at times, but when I use my tools I am more fluent than not. I have no shame of stretching out a word or using an easy onset. It is so much better than stuttering. If I do stutter, I move on and don't beat myself up. This is what I can offer you as a speech therapist. I do recommend fluency shaping tools along with overcome feared situations. There is help available and I truly believe in therapy I provide. So, did I recover from stuttering, overcome stuttering or just find the right mix of what I feel works? Who knows what the right terminology is. What is important is what I have accomplished and what I have learned on this journey to help people who stutter become more fluent!! If that is your goal, it can be done!! Never give up!

1 comment:

sachin said...

Touched by your words. I am a Community health person and was a covert, till about 5 years back.. Now, I am coordinating Indian stammering association. I personally put a lot of emphasis on cognitive and affective elements- acceptance, meditation etc.
Thnaks for sharing your story!
sachin
(stammer.in)