Make Room For The Stuttering

The Secret Is Out

Posted on: November 17, 2009

I never get tired of hearing about someone’s acceptance story, and how it can change lives forever. This one really needs sharing.

I received something in the mail yesterday from FRIENDS – the National Association of Young People Who Stutter. It was a letter from a parent who had attended her first FRIENDS conference this summer in Tampa. A grateful mom wrote this letter to Lee Caggiano, the co-founder and Director of FRIENDS. Lee saw the tremendous value in sharing this letter with the entire FRIENDS family. I hope that by sharing excerpts here on this blog, the message of hope and acceptance will reach even more people.

Mom wrote that before finding Lee Caggiano as a speech therapist for her 7 year old son,and subsequently attending their first FRIENDS conference, that the family home was full of avoidance,pain, attempts at quick fixes, and overwhelming fear. The parents never acknowledged their child’s stuttering. He knew something was wrong, for he saw people around him look away in discomfort when he spoke. But his parents could not, would not, confirm it for him, because they had always been told to avoid the word stuttering.

Mom found about Lee from a friend who also has a son who stutters. Mom says her “path of denial” (sound familiar) led her to a good speech therapist and Friends. Mom goes on to write:

“I will never forget the day my husband and I sat our child down and actually said to him: ‘ we know that you have been struggling with your stuttering and we are sorry. We don’t care if you stutter, but we never want you to struggle. We promise to help you with it.’  The look of relief in our son’s beautiful blue eyes will never leave my memory. Its as if a cloud lifted from all of us. You can feel the difference in our home. The dirty secret, that everyone knew, was out”.

Mom also enclosed a note from her mom, the child’s grandmother, who had also attended the 2009 FRIENDS conference. She writes:

“I can’t contain the tears that are still flowing after reading the letter you wrote about your experience at the FRIENDS conference. But my tears are very different than the ones before the convention. I used to cry when I heard my grandson struggling to get out the words he wanted so desperately to say and the look of pain on your face. When I went to Tampa to meet you and my grandson, I was so afraid to look you and him in the eyes because I didn’t want to see pain and struggle. Instead, while there, I slowly  became aware of the acceptance between the two of you, I was so moved by the courage of the individuals who stutter, children, teens as well as adults. How they got up and spoke proudly to everyone from a podium, with humor and intelligence, and some yes, with more difficulty than others. They made me feel comfortable with stuttering for the first time”.

When I opened this letter and read it once through, I had to put it down for a minute and catch my breath. I was so incredibly moved by it myself. My eyes welled up as I remembered seeing this mom at the conference in Tampa. I had no idea that she and her family were so profoundly effected by the power of FRIENDS. I read the letter again two more times, and remembered how impacted I felt by attending my first FRIENDS conference as an adult who stutters in New Orleans in 2008, and helping out in Tampa in 2009.

Self help, acceptance and support really does change lives. This seven-year old boy’s experience with stuttering will be forever changed by the love,  support and acceptance that he and his family has found through FRIENDS. How beautiful for them. How wonderful that Lee and FRIENDS continues to provide this lifeline of acceptance and love for the kids and parents affected by stuttering. Stuttering can and should be accepted, so our children will grow up feeling loved and supported and special.

What do you think? Wouldn’t you like to meet this mom and say thank you for sharing this letter? I know I would like to give her and her son a huge hug!

4 Responses to "The Secret Is Out"

I am so so happy for them and I read this entire post through tears.

I am feeling particularly sad becasue my parents showed no interest in helping me accept the fact that I stuttered. I am not upset with them because in those days no one knew much I suppose about stuttering and would not know how to support and help me accept it.

My father stutters too and I suppose they just see it as that, you are a product of your Dad, deal with it.

This is why now I am at this place of fear in my life becasue I was not given the validation from my loved ones that I needed which no doubt would have put me in a much better place with my stuttering today.

My husband stutters too and he is at a much place with his stuttering than I am and so we talk on many occasions to see why he is doing better with stuttering than I am.
He does have difficulties though, but mine vastly outweighs his.

Thanks Mom and to the rest of this lucky seven year old for doing this for him. I am sure he loves and appreciates you more for this.

Wow, I too was very moved by this. What courage for that mom to write that. What a lucky child to have this support and acceptance NOW, so that if and when things get tough in school, his family will be by his side.
Like Annetta says above, I so wish I had that when I was growing up, it would have been so much easier.

This post reminds me of what happened today at a school. We were there for a screening to look for kids, if there are any, with any kind of speech impediment..There was a young boy, aged around 8 years, with stammer and when in the end, I introduced myself with a bit of bouncing..that young fellow came up to me and said – ” Sir, you speak exactly like me “…I was there for next 45 minutes with him and his classmates and I still remember the smile on his face for the rest of the time

Its really good when you find you are not alone in your struggles. Apart from My Dad, there was no one else really my age, that is, that I could identify with and this had me in a lonely scared place.

Thanks to the internet and this forum I am meeting people like you I can identify with.

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