Stuttering requires a degree of fearlessness. In order to stutter openly, at some point, we have to lose the fear we have of being made fun of, or laughed at, or getting “the look.”
For most of us, letting go of that fear is hard to do. The fear of stuttering may indeed be more debilitating than the actual stuttering is.
I can well remember how worried I would always be of other people’s reactions if I stuttered. It goes back to childhood – of my father yelling at me when I stuttered, of the teacher who reprimanded me for stuttering, as if I was doing it purposely.
Those early experiences made the fear intensify. I feared the negative reactions more than the stuttering. The stuttering came and went. My perception that people thought there was something wrong with me stayed.
Fear drove me to hide my stuttering for a very long time. Even after “coming out” a few years ago, I still have moments where I try to hide it, or realize that I unintentionally hid it.
In one of the stuttering groups on Facebook, fear has been a recent topic. It never ceases to amaze me how many people are dealing with their “firsts” with stuttering. First time talking about stuttering openly, first time confronting emotions, namely fear.
These days, myself and other “stuttering veterans” are in a position to share our past experiences and hopefully help others with their first attempts at owning their feelings and fears.
It’s never easy. In fact, fear never really goes away, does it?
I’ve noticed that on days when I have very little opportunity for speaking that my stuttering is more pronounced when I do finally speak.
Has anyone had that experience?
I’ll notice it when I have to make a telephone call, that I’ll trip or block on words that I hardly ever do. It must be the lack of practice!
My friend J has a similiar experience. He works from home every other week, so does not have that social contact and interaction that you usually find in the workplace.
He then has more silent blocks when he gets back to consistent talking.
I have suggested that he try voluntary stuttering in these situations. He doesn’t always take my suggestions.
I have tried voluntary stuttering myself, when I want to claim more control or even to advertise when I think I’m going to stutter a lot.
What do you think?
Episode 102 features Samantha Agan, who hails from the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Sam is originally from Philadelphia.
Sam is a full-time college student studying psychology and also works full-time as a care giver for the elderly. Sam is planning to pursue her Master’s degree in psychology, with a long-term career goal of forensic psychology.
Sam and I “met” on one of the online stuttering forums. She has been an active and positive contributor to the Stuttering Arena group on Facebook.
Listen in as we discuss all things stuttering – early speech therapy experiences, stuttering as a disability, self-esteem and confidence. Listen to the part where we talk about confidence and you’ll see where the title of this episode came from!
This was a great conversation. It was fun getting to know Samantha and getting to know the person behind our social media postings.
Be sure to leave comments for Samantha when you listen, or just let her know what a great job she did.
The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.
My friend Burt from Belgium posed the question on one of the stuttering forums about how should one react when someone says our stuttering is cute. He wonders if people are just being nice by saying that.
Quite a few people weighed in with their comments and insights. Some say it’s never happened. Some say people refer to stuttering as cute when they don’t know what else to say. Some say they’ve heard stuttering said to be cute when the listener really feels sorry for the person stuttering.
One person indicated that she thinks that there are people out there that are genuinely attracted to flaws in people. I somewhat agree with that. I think when people let their true self shine – imperfections and all – they allow themselves to be vulnerable.
I am attracted to people who allow themselves to be vulnerable. To me, it signifies confidence. The person is confident enough to just be, and let the world see their true self.
I don’t ever recall anyone saying my stuttering is/was cute, but I do remember a friend commenting a few years ago that he found my stuttering was beautiful. I remember being so floored with that, as I’ve always hated my stutter. How could anyone possibly find it to be beautiful?
When he said that, it made me feel really good. I’ve never forgotten it either. Now, looking back (and it’s only been 4 or 5 years,) I think what may have been beautiful was the fact that I was being true to myself and stuttering openly and being vulnerable.
What do you think? Can stuttering be cute? Or attractive?
Be sure to check out Katherine Preston’s book, Out With It: How Stuttering Helped Me Find My Voice, which hits the shelves tomorrow April 16, 2013.
This memoir details the journey that took Katherine from her home in London to many different cities in the United States to find meaning in her stuttering.
I have met Katherine in person, and she was a guest on my podcast. In the episode “Think With Your Heart,” Katherine shares parts of her story with us and talks about her dream of having her book published.
It’s hard to believe that episode was in September 2010 and now we’ll actually be reading her book. A book written and published by a woman who stutters!
The book can be purchased by booksellers everywhere and is also available for digitial downloads. I’m looking foward to getting my copy from Amazon.
For more information on Katherine and her work, check out her blog Katherine Preston.
There is quite a discussion roiling on one of the email groups about stuttering being renamed “childhood onset fluency disorder.” This classification will be found in the DSM-5, due to be released in May 2013.
The DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. All mental disorders (and medical conditions for that matter) are coded for insurance coverage and reimbursement purposes. Changing the name from stuttering allows for all communication disorders to be covered, and gives parents with kids who stutter more options for quality speech therapy that insurance companies will pay for.
That is the layman’s (mine) explanation, from what I’ve gleaned from doing some reading and understanding what one of the writers and contributors to the section on communication disorders shared on the email group.
Many in the stuttering community are finding this classification of stuttering as a mental disorder to be disturbing. Many of us who stutter do not believe that we have a mental disorder.
And this label might just further the beliefs, and myths, that stuttering is a psychological problem. Many walked away from the 2010 movie “The Kings Speech” believing that stuttering was caused by bad parenting and psychological reactions to trauma and bullying.
People who stutter already have trouble with bullying in school and often being assigned to special education classes, even though there is no learning impairment. There is also workplace discrimination, with employers not fully understanding stuttering and making assumptions about ability and stability. If employers get wind of stuttering now being classified as a mental disorder, that could further diminish employment opportunities for stutterers.
Some could argue that everything we do is “mental.” We use our mental faculties everyday to communicate and interact with the world.
I don’t think I have a mental disorder because of my stuttering. Maybe for other things, but not for stuttering!
What do you think? Would you feel comfortable being diagnosed with a mental disorder due to your stuttering?
Well, Lazaro Arabos made it through another round on American Idol this week. In fact, voters put him in the top three this week.
This came as a surprise, since Lazaro forgot some lyrics in his duet performance this week, just like he did in last week’s performance. And Jimmy Iovine, the show’s mentor, had predicted that Lazaro should be in the bottom two or voted off the show.
The judges thought Lazaro’s solo performance of “We Are The Champions” was a perfect song choice for him, as the song signals that Lazaro is a champion after defying the odds to sing so well despite his severe stutter.
But many critics are saying that Lazaro is getting through when he should not, and at the expense of much better singers.
Do you think Lazaro is getting the sympathy vote? Do you think people are voting for him just because he stutters? To make a statement that finally, someone with a disability, can get this far?
I have been following the show every week this year. As a person who stutters myself, I greatly admire what Lazaro is doing. He is a great singer, but clearly struggles with interviews. But he does them anyway. He’s a great role model in that regard.
But I don’t think he is the better singer over some that have been eliminated since the top 10 was established.
If you are a person who stutters, are you rooting for Lazaro just because he stutters? Do you think he deserves to have made it this far? If you don’t stutter, what do you think?