Posted May 16, 2011on:
Last week I talked with a young friend of mine who asked, “Pam, does it ever get much better? Or is it always going to be like this?” He referred to his severe stutter and how hard it is for him to communicate.
He has severe blocks and is very self-conscious. He feels people should not be “subjected” to listening to him. He doesn’t mind when people finish sentences for him. He finds it a relief.
He knows I disagree with him on this. I have told him that most people will be understanding and patient once they know he stutters. He says I really don’t know what its like for him, since I communicate easily. He believes he cannot be clearly understood and its not fair to make people listen to him.
When my friend asked me if things ever get easier, I gave him the optimistic answer. Even though I cannot relate to a severe stutter, I feel confident that with the passing of time and life experiences, that things will get better for him. At least in the sense that he may likely reach a point where he is not always so self-conscious.
In a way, it seemed he was asking me to try and predict the future, which of course none of us can. But those of us who live with stuttering, no matter the severity, know it deeply affects our lives. I have heard many people say it does get easier as we mature and are better equipped to let things roll off our backs.
In my case, things became easier after making the conscious decision to stop hiding and just stutter openly.
Yesterday, in a workshop about stuttering, a young mom was there to find out as much about stuttering as she could. Her four year old son has been stuttering severely since age 2. Her pediatrican has advised her he can still “outgrow it”, but she has him in therapy already. She is looking at other options, as she feels what he is currently doing with a speech therapist is not really benefitting her son.
She wants to learn as much as possible so that she can best support her son. At our workshop (Let’s Talk About Stuttering, to mark National Stuttering Awareness Week), this mom mentioned that she had never met an adult who stutters, so she was so glad to be with a group of about 10 of us. She wanted to get a sense of what life might hold in store for her child if he continues to stutter.
She mentioned more than once that seeing him struggle now, she keeps trying to “fast forward” to his future to imagine what it might be like for him when he starts college or goes to work. She appreciated hearing adults who stutter talk about feelings, worries and our successes. Two young men who are in college were in the group, and their confidence really filled this mom with hope.
She also mentioned it was so good to see and hear women who stutter. She said in all of her reading and research, she has learned about the predominance of men and boys who stutter. So she was glad to talk with women who stutter as well.
Have you ever tried to fast forward and imagine that life with a stutter might be easier than it is now? Do you agree with what I told my young friend that things will likely get easier for him as he matures and becomes less self-conscious?
And what about parents? Is it natural for parents to try and fast-forward and visualize their child’s life 10 or 20 years out? We gave this mom information about FRIENDS and the local NSA chapter leader also gave general information about support available through the National Stuttering Association.