Make Room For The Stuttering

Not As Bad As Yours

Posted on: December 29, 2009

I had the opportunity and pleasure last night to have dinner at a good friend’s house. We have become friends through Toastmasters. She has heard me speak many times about stuttering and my belief that people who stutter can be effective communicators.

She invited me to speak to her school’s parents group a few months ago, and last night wanted me to speak to high school girls about differences, respect and tolerance. So I had dinner with her family first and then spoke with the teen age girls for about an hour or so after dinner.

Her family is Orthodox Jewish and welcomed me into their home. Her many children are used to having guests share dinner. We had a traditional kosher meal, and shared good conversation over the dinner table.

When the high school girls piled in, at first I was a little nervous. My friend had assured me that my story would have an impact, and she especially wanted me to share how it has felt to be teased over the years about my stuttering. Fortunately (I guess), I was having an especially “stutter-eze” day. Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was excitement to share my story, and maybe it was because my stuttering just wanted to be center stage last night. Who knows, but the girls got a good example of how one stutters and the different ways.

As I told my story, I was very aware of my voice. I could hear my stuttering as the girls and adults listened intently. I relaxed and shared. I told a few stories of how I hated to use drive-throughs and sometimes would order coffee or food I didn’t like to avoid stuttering. I explained it was like my way of protecting myself. They seemed to get that.

The girls had some questions and comments throughout, and I was comfortable answering. Afterwards, a couple of the girls shared experiences where they have made fun of someone or been made fun of themselves.

The girls’ teacher asked some general discussion questions at the end, but by that time, clearly their attention span had waned and we were ready to call it a night. Someone had made kosher chocolate chip cookies, and the girls were ready to dive in to them.

 But I know they listened. I know they heard my message. I could tell.

One 14-year old girl came up to me as I was getting my coat and wanted to share something. She said she knew a speech therapist that had totally changed her life. She used to have a “speech issue” when she was younger. The same therapist also helped a friend of hers who has Down syndrome and also had stuttered. She said the friend still stutters a bit, but “not as bad as yours though”. At that, I just smiled.

I had made an impact on this cold Monday night. I am glad I shared my story with a bunch of teen age girls. I think they will remember the lady who stuttered and ate kosher food for the first time. And I think maybe, just maybe, they learned a little about an experience different from their own, and maybe won’t be so quick to make fun of someone.

What do you think? Have you ever had the chance to use your stuttering in such a way to help teach a lesson to young people? It felt really, really good!

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2017.