Posted April 15, 2011on:
Today’s post is from a special guest writer, who has inspired me with her words and courage. The following was written by Amanda Schott.
(Amanda gave me permission to slightly edit her piece for length. This article will also be printed in the next issue of the FRIENDS newsletter, Reaching Out. Amanda’s mom also gave consent for her piece to be published here!)
Stuttering is a setback that affects me every day of my life. Last year, when I was in eighth grade, I began to stutter. It happened overnight. There wasn’t any gradual thing where I did it once or twice and then it grew to a full-on problem. It hit me suddenly, and since I had never stuttered before, people noticed it big time.
I’m Amanda, a fifteen year old with a bubbly personality and an awesome sense of humor. But most people don’t see me that way. They only see the tourettes, ADHD, depression, and the stutter. They see a twitch that can’t control her emotions and acts like a two year old sometimes. I’m innocent and wise at the same time. Through it all, I grin and bear it, but the insults hurt all the same whether I show it or not.
My little brother and sister have both been through speech therapy for a couple years. They both went to two preschools at once for their speech and continued therapy in elementary school. It was a classic case for kids their age: talking too fast and dropping sounds mostly. So, when they learned to slow down and enunciate, they graduated from the speech class and talk fine. Neither of them have ever had a stutter.
I talked to my siblings’ speech therapist, and she said that there was no way I just got a stutter out of the blue. I did, though, and now I still have it a year later. I don’t stutter sounds, really, but I repeat words, especially short ones like ‘its’. ‘I think it’s, it’s’ it’s’ (long pause while I grit my teeth and force the next word out) ‘it’s because I…’ is something I do all the time.
‘Hey Amanda, do you st-st-stutter?’ I hear CONSTANTLY. What’s sad is that I get that from my friends who know that I don’t even stutter like that!
I found out about an organization for teens who stutter while I was just searching the internet for anything that could help. I searched for ‘teens who stutter’ and clicked on a random link. It led me to the FRIENDS website and I saw there was a mentoring program for kids and teens. I printed the application and filled it out, thinking it could be good for me to be able to meet other kids like me.
I got an email from Gracie not too long later. I could tell right away that we would be amazing friends. We email almost every day and talk about everything from stuttering to boy problems. We haven’t gotten around to calling each other because she doesn’t like talking on the phone. I want to talk her into it and show her that some people don’t care whether she stutters or not.
Talking to Gracie is so fun and I’m lucky to have her. We support each other and we’ve gotten really close. It’s helped a lot to have someone to talk to who understands what I’m going through and can relate to what I’m saying. Seeing a new email from Gracie always makes me smile and brightens my day.
I started to lose my passion for speaking when I got my stutter. I got quieter, I held things inside that I wanted to say because I was afraid it wouldn’t come out right, I even avoided people that I talk more around! My best friend Chrissy was hurt because I didn’t talk to her for a while, and it wasn’t good at all. Now that I know a bit about stuttering, I’m more confident about it.
The most frustrating part of my stutter is when people finish my sentences! I hate that so much! It makes me feel bad to say anything though, because my friends are ‘just trying to help’, but it makes me feel incompetent when I can’t even talk for myself. So I decided to tell them all to stop. Now, whenever I can’t say something, I make a joke, like, ‘Hang on! I’ll get this!’ or I try to rephrase what I was going to say. I also remind my friends that ‘I can speak for myself if you’ll let me’ in nice tones.
It also bothers me when people interrupt me while I talk. I’m very talkative and I like to tell stories, but if I stutter and stop for a second, my friends will just launch into another story when I’m not done with mine. I’ve learned this is the line I don’t like having crossed, so I remind them ‘That was rude’. I still try to be humorous about it, but I can’t stand it when people are rude to others who are talking.
Learning how to tell people about the twitching? Not as easy at all. Usually, it happens just by people seeing me twitch in class or something, they’ll look at me funny, and I just say, ‘Sorry. I have tourettes. I can’t control it.’ When kids know about it, they’re less likely to judge me on what I do. I tell a lot of people now, and I get less stares and weird looks because they understand.
The other day, I was sitting in English class, and two of my classmates were sitting behind me when I had a huge shoulder twitch. I heard one tell the other, “Don’t say anything. She has tourettes. She can’t control it.” Then I heard, “But it’s so freaky!” and the first boy stood up for me. “How would you like it? Leave her alone.” Just that simple gesture helped me more than that boy will ever know.
I love the Friend’s mentoring program. I have a few friends who stutter and I told them about it, and they want to sign up too. Because despite all having stutters, we have different stutters and different problems to face. Having good friends to help me through my troubles is invaluable to me and I wouldn’t trade them, even if it meant losing my stutter forever.
If you were inspired by Amanda, please leave a comment. I will make sure she sees any feedback left for her. Amanda, you ROCK!