I would like to share two stories of two teens, one a male (age 14), the other a female (age 17). These two teenagers are very different but share stuttering in common and the pain that often accompanies it. They both came to me with low self esteem due to the fears of stuttering and being perceived as different. I asked the first teen whom I will call Robert to write a blurb how speech therapy has helped him. I remember Robert having a difficult time expressing himself last Feb. As the months went by, I saw a young man come out of his shell. He started to accept the fact that he stuttered, but wanted to improve. He was and is motivated to this day. If he had difficulty with the "B" sound, he would go home and practice that sound all week. When he was afraid to answer the phone, he pushed himself to answer it anyway until the fear subsided. He never stopped practicing with his friends and family. This is what he wrote (12/09):
"When I started speech therapy last February of 2009, I was a moderate stutterer. Before I started speech therapy, I felt really different compared to other people because of the way I talked. But after a few months, I got new tools to control my stuttering. I started seeing results immediately and have been improving ever since. It's not fun to see people giving you a strange face like you have two heads or have people talking about you. I started seeing that in school and it actually made my stuttering worse. But with these tools, I have been able to speak more fluently and raise my confidence. I don't know where I would be without speech therapy."
The next story is about a young woman who will be attending college next year. I am going to post her college essay on my website soon so stay posted. It is called Speechless and it is a gem worth reading. This is what she wrote in my holiday card:
" Thank you so much for helping with my speech for the past 3 months. That's pretty much a Hanukah gift in itself. You've made me much more comfortable in any type of speech situation and have really made me comfortable in my own skin also. You're an amazing teacher and I couldn't have asked for anyone better. Thanks again and I'll be looking forward to another great year of speech class with you."
Amy and her parents are very proud of her accomplishments as I am of her. She just got a job which involves answering phones and practices her fluency tools. She is a wonderful communicator and I know she will have a successful fashion career ahead of her.
I hope these stories give hope to all who stutter, especially teens and their families. Both were realistic in their goals. They weren't looking for perfect fluency and knew they had to keep practicing. They were on a journey and still are. They role played situation after situation until they were able to speak in front of others and on the phone. Everyone who stutters knows the look Robert talked about above. The look when someone who stutters opens their mouth and the words won't come out. Facing the looks of the listener's bewilderment, silent inquiry as to what possibly could be wrong with this person and confusion is devastating. These teens went one step further and educated their listener and the world on what stuttering is. It is a communication disorder, but it doesn't define us. I say more power to them and I applaud their efforts. Happy and Healthy Holiday to all. Thank you for reading and I welcome your comments. Peace to all in the coming year. Lori