Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘parents feelings about stuttering

My father died two weeks ago. My father who I never reconciled with over serious childhood issues. My father that yelled and screamed at me when I was 5 years old and first started stuttering. My father whose lack of support drove me to try and hide my stuttering for years. My father who was ashamed that one of his kids stuttered. My father who never allowed me and my siblings to show emotions. My father who never showed me affection. My father who I had not talked to in years.

I happened to be away for the weekend when I got word that he had died. My siblings were text messaging each other and included me in on the thread. As I was driving, my phone blew up with tweets, the sound I use to notify me of text alerts. I glanced down at the phone and tried to see what was going on. I couldn’t figure out what they were talking about from just a quick glance.

I pulled over at the first nearest rest area to get gas and then pulled into a parking spot, curious to see what my siblings were furiously texting about. One sister had offered her condolences to others who were impacted by his death. I didn’t know who they were talking about. It didn’t occur to me to think it was my father. I texted a quick question and asked who died, thinking it was an extended family member. One sister directly responded that it was dad who died.

I was kind of shocked as I was not expecting to hear that and I was 100 miles from home. My brother then chimed in with a text that he was sorry I learned through a text message, but that the family thought it better not to have called me while I was away.

I started driving toward home and had the next 90 minutes or so to think. What I thought about was how weird my reaction was. I was not emotional or stricken – I was worried about how I would handle the upcoming funeral services and deal with family that I hadn’t seen in years. I was worried about possibly not going and how that would look.

I debated not going to any services as I had not had a relationship with the man in years. He never reached out to me and I kept my distance. While he was in a nursing home, several of my sisters tried to guilt me into letting go of the past and consider reconciling with him. They were going to visit him weekly and asked me repeatedly to join them. I chose not to. They stopped asking. I went about my life oblivious to what was happening with him.

I learned later that he had suffered several falls due to the pressure of a brain tumor he’d had for years, that I knew about. The pressure was causing dementia and made him prone to falls. The last fall he took was accompanied by heart failure and several attempts at resuscitation and then his heart just finally stopped.

I always felt a deep sadness that I did not have my father’s heart. I was his first born daughter and always yearned for that relationship with my dad that I knew other people had or that I saw on TV. I was envious of friends who were close with their parents and held a special place in their parents’ hearts. I never really told that to anyone and eventually those yearnings went away as I learned to manage with the hand I had been dealt. I vividly remembered the abusive, chaotic home I grew up in. I couldn’t not remember it.

I did go to my father’s wake and was supremely uncomfortable. I felt lost and like I didn’t belong there. Four of my siblings were also there, along with my father’s second family. A family I had always referred to as our replacement family. His wife, that my father had cheated on my mother with and who was younger than me. Whom I always blamed for hurting my mother.

I saw aunts and uncles, his siblings, that I hadn’t seen in over 25 years, It was awkward. It was more awkward seeing my father’s other daughters, openly grieving. I felt tense and anxious and couldn’t help but feel this whole thing was happening to someone else.

My sister read a “tribute” to my father toward the end of the service, one that talked about a loving father that instilled values and work ethic in all his (10) children and a love for God. I didn’t recognize who she was talking about. It was surreal to me, his firstborn daughter who wasn’t perfect and had never felt his love. My sister had reconciled with him and made peace with him as had two other sisters.

My youngest sister didn’t go to the wake. He was not part of her life and had never met her children, his grandchildren, yet the obituary read that he was their loving grandfather. I felt that people were trying to paint this man to be someone he was not.

I didn’t go to the funeral service or burial the next day. I couldn’t. I felt paralyzed by my very conflicting emotions. Part of me had hated this man for so long, for the emotional and physical abuse of long ago and for making me feel such shame over my stuttering. I carried this around for a long time. I also carried around his influence for a long time. I was in therapy for years, trying to process and perhaps reconcile my “daddy issues,” but never could. The pain was still there, after all these years.

When someone dies and it is unexpected, so much goes unsaid. Such is the case with my father. I never told him how I had yearned for his love, support and approval. I never told him that I have turned out pretty OK and feel like I am in a good place in my life, despite a tumultuous past. I didn’t really even say goodbye.

Part of me feels relief that he is gone, for he is not suffering and hopefully neither will I anymore. But I’m not sure that really is the case. I need to come to terms with what wasn’t said and find a way to process this so that I can move forward in peace.

 

 

This video is making the rounds of the stuttering sites on social media and for good reason. A dad with a stutter is seen reading to his daughter before she falls asleep and it is clearly a challenge for him. But he perseveres and does what he wants to do for his child.

I applaud this dad for doing what thousands of parents do with their children – read to them before bedtime. The fact that he decided to record this for others to see took a lot of guts. I am glad he did, so you can see it here. He allows us to see the very vulnerable side of stuttering.

People often view stuttering as a flaw, a deficit, a challenge to be overcome. Many of us who stutter have been met with negative social consequences for our stuttering: teasing, bullying, mocking, exclusion and being laughed at. Many of us apologize to our listeners for our stuttering. We often feel as if we are a burden to the listener, because we take longer to speak than the “normal” fluent speaker.

As a result of all this, people who stutter may spend lots of time, energy and money to change their stuttering so that our speech will be more socially accepted. We participate in speech therapy, we practice speaking for hours, or when these fail, we may avoid speaking situations all together.

Online stuttering forums are loaded with people looking for advice on dating, job interviews, talking on the telephone and ordering food in restaurants and drive through stations.

Sometimes it can get very depressing reading about all the difficulties that people who stutter have and face. It can also be depressing to personally deal with negative listener reactions and feelings of shame.

So why is the title of this post called “The Benefits Of Stuttering,” you may ask. So far, I haven’t mentioned anything positive about stuttering. Can stuttering really have benefits?

Well, if you think about it, there are many benefits to stuttering. People generally remember us because of our stutter. When I answer the phone at work and stutter, it’s not unusual for someone to say “hi Pam.” They equate me with my stuttering and remember who I am.

People who stutter often have more compassion and empathy for others with differences. We’re also good listeners and are very patient. These are benefits that we often don’t think of because we get so caught up in what’s wrong with stuttering.

My UK friend Lisa recently shared a great example of how stuttering was an advantage for her. (She gave me permission to recount the story here.)

I started my new role as a 1:1 teaching assistant at school recently with a little boy who has a muscular disease that affects the muscles in his mouth resulting in a stammer.

I was nervous to meet his parents, as I didn’t know if they would be happy with a person who stammers overseeing speech practice with their child who stammers. I explained from the outset that I also stammer but was able to mainly control it and that I was familiar with the different types of stammering, secondary behaviors and therapies associated with it.

I was so wrong in assuming that the parents would have an issue with me. The mum actually said she was over the moon, more for the fact that I would first hand understand how he might feel not being able to communicate as quickly as his peers. I said that because the staff know too, and are patient with me, they would already know to do the same with the child and that some of the children are aware of being patient with me, so would just adapt with him.

She then said that after our meeting, she was 100% sure it was the right thing to move him to the school. For once I felt stammering was an advantage.

What a great story that illustrates one of the main benefits of stuttering – empathy for others and instinctively knowing what it’s like and how best to listen and respond to another person who stutters.

So, the next time you think there are only negatives associated with stuttering, think again. There are benefits and sometimes it’s to our advantage to stutter.

What do you think? Have you ever thought of your stuttering as an advantage or realized one of its benefits?

EpiPamsode 136 features Dori Lenz Holte, who is a parent of a child who stutters. Dori hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota and is the author of the book, “Voice Unearthed: Hope, Help and a Wake-Up Call for the Parents of Children Who Stutter.”

Dori also has a blog and a Facebook group offering support for the parents of children who stutter.

Dori says she wrote the book she wished she had read when she was starting out on the journey with her son Eli, who stutters and is now 18.

Listen in as Dori describes how traditional speech therapy affected her child and the frustration and desperation she and her husband felt as parents.

She talks about being told to “keep looking” for a speech therapist who was a specialist in stuttering.  That period of “keep looking” added to the silence and withdrawal that her son was experiencing as a young child who was trying, and failing, to use speech tools and techniques.

Dori also discusses the need for parents to keep their eye on the big picture, which is to raise confident and happy children. And parents should listen to their instincts.

This was an important conversation. Thanks Dori for being a guest.

The podcast safe music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

I just finished the excellent book Paperboy by Vince Vawter and couldn’t stop smiling.

Paperboy is the story of an 11-year-old boy who takes over his best friend’s paper route for a month during July in Memphis. Victor is happy to help his friend out, but secretly obsesses over having to communicate with customers when he collects the weekly fee.

Young Victor stutters and the author perfectly captures the feelings, fears and worries that come with being different. We are able to get right into Victor’s head as he practices speaking to some of his customers and as he fervently switches trouble words for words he can say without stuttering.

The author uses a unique style to depict dialogue throughout the story and conveys through words what Victor’s stuttered speech sounds and feels like.

This story will resonate with young people and adults who stutter, as it depicts a real life situation that all of us who stutter can relate to. Victor uses some speech therapy techniques to make his stuttering easier, and he also uses avoidance, which will be all too familiar to many of us who try to be covert!

Paperboy is the story of a kid who is a great baseball pitcher, a friend and a youngster who is learning how to communicate with adults, stand up for himself and learning about empathy.

We learn about his relationships with his parents, his Mam, his peers and the adults he encounters on his paper route. And we root for him as he finds himself in some tough situations and as he gradually becomes more self-aware.

This is a great book about stuttering, life and coming of age. It’s geared for young people, but adults (including parents of kids who of stutter) will love it too.

Put it on your reading list. You won’t be sorry!

I am sitting in my hotel room in Aurora, CO at the end of the last day of the FRIENDS conference. Soon, we will gather for dinner and the kids will dance and sing karoeke and have fun being kids.

Having fun being kids is what the FRIENDS conference is all about. Kids who stutter gather for three days to savor the moments where they can just be kids, free from worrying about being teased or judged.

This 3 day conference was marked by senseless tragedy yet the kids who stutter are showing resiliance, grace and dignity. They have showered each other with love and support and have been talking and sharing their feelings.

We adults are pondering how random life is and re-examining our priorities. When tragedy strikes close to home, we look at things differently. Our perspective shifts – we realize how tomorrow is never guaranteed, and we must live each day as if it were our last.

For we know it can be. Senseless violence is random and can affect anyone anywhere.

Kids who stutter learn how to handle challenge and adversity every day just by living their lives as stutterers. They learn how to handle teasing and bullying and that life is not always just or easy.

The kids at FRIENDS who were touched by the violence in Colorado this week have shown how strong they are and how powerful support is.

These kids have taught me a thing or two about life. Life is about living and sharing and being true to self. No matter what you are faced with.

Episode 67 features Georgia Stephens, who hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Georgia had a career as a choreographer, writer and dance performer for about 30 years.

She is currently enrolled in the Master’s degree program at St Mary’s University, studying Counseling Psychology.

Georgia is interested in perhaps using dance to help people who stutter, and hopes to combine traditional talk therapy with dance therapy.

Georgia shares how she came to experience that most people think that we can only communicate using words. She realized that is not true, that we can also communicate through dance and movement.

Listen in to a fascinating conversation about dance and movement, covert stuttering, blocking, and the energy we use when trying not to stutter. We also discuss beating ourselves up, shame, disclosure, and support.

The podcast safe music used in this clip is credited to ccMixter. Please be sure to leave comments for Georgia or just let her know what a great job she did! Feedback is a gift!


Have you ever heard that from someone you have just disclosed to that you stutter? I have – several times over the last month or so. When someone says that, it seems like they are surprised that my stuttering does not sound like the stereotypical image they may have in their head.

A friend and I went to an event sponsored by a local radio station. I had the chance to meet one of the regular afternoon radio personalities. My friend mentioned to him that we both stutter. This guy immediately said, “You’re doing really well”. It seemed almost a compliment – like maybe it was acknowledgement that I was having a pretty good speech day.

Last week at a music performance, during intermission, I was waiting in line for the restroom. An older gentleman and I were chatting. I mentioned I had recently been to a jazz club in Texas. He asked me why I had been in Texas. I told him for a conference. He asked what type of conference. I told him a stuttering conference. He then proceeded to tell me that his daughter is a SLP and also works with people that stutter. He also remarked that I “do very well” when speaking.

One day last week I was on the phone and had a minor block with initiating small talk. I mentioned that I stutter, to ease my anxiety about the block, and immediately the person said, “well, you’re doing just fine. I barely notice it.”

Does this happen to you? I wonder if there is any special reason people use this phrase. Maybe it’s the only way they know to acknowledge stuttering, maybe it makes them feel better that they have used a positive phrase.

                                                  

Episode 55 features Shelby Potts, who hails from Raleigh, North Carolina. She is 19 years old and just finished her sophomore year at Appalachian State University, located in Boone, NC. Shelby is studying communication disorders and hopes to become a speech pathologist.

This episode also features Shelby’s mom, Mary Ann Potts. She teaches ballet and modern dance at the Dancer’s Studio. She is also the assistant director of the Concert Dancers of Raleigh, teaches preschool music and movement and leads a cardio-class. But Mary Ann tells us right away that first she is a mom.

I met Shelby just a few weeks ago when I visited Dr. Joseph Klein’s graduate fluency class at Appalachian State in Boone. Shelby joined the class that evening, because she wanted to meet me. Talk about flattering!

Listen in to a wonderful mother-daughter perspective on the stuttering journey. Shelby honestly shares what has and has not worked for her in therapy. Mom is just as poignantly honest as she shares how it feels being a parent who wants nothing more than to ease her child’s pain, and the hard lessons learned along the way.

We talk about acceptance, meeting other people who stutter for the first time and moving from hiding out to speaking publicly about stuttering.

Team Potts also talks about how FRIENDS has been life-changing, and the powerful realization that they are a “we”. Sharing this journey has impacted them both and left Shelby well equipped to handle life as a young woman who stutters.

The music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter. Feel free to leave comments for Shelby and her mom. Or just let them know what a great job they did. Feedback is a gift.

Episode 53 features Claire, who hails from the Washington, DC area. Claire is 16 years old and a junior in high school.

She is interested in biology, and already knows she wants to pursue further education and a career path involving genetics, which combines  her love for both biology and history.

I met Claire and her family at my first FRIENDS conference in 2008, but really didn’t get to know her well that first year. Since, I have seen her blossom into a very confident young person, who is at ease with herself as a woman who stutters. She’s a great role model for youth, especially girls, who stutter.

Listen in to a very candid conversation about Claire ‘s experiences with school therapy. She shares her frustration at working with therapists who did not seem to know much about stuttering, and how she knew more about stuttering than they did!

Claire shares about working with a metronome and how it seemed she was asked to replace one secondary behavior with another.Very important insights by a 16-year old!

We also discuss family impact, Claire’s relationship with her sister, and how important acceptance is. And as a 6-year member of FRIENDS, Claire shares what FRIENDS is all about, the life-changing significance of meeting other people her age that stutter, and how important self help and support is for parents as well.

Claire demonstrates poise, confidence and humor in our conversation. I was so happy that she (and her mom) agreed that Claire should share her story.

Credit for the podcast safe music used in this episode goes to ccMixter. Please feel free to leave comments for Claire. Remember, feedback is a gift.

Episode 50  features Jenny who hails from Santa Clarita, California. Jenny and her husband are the proud parents of two boys, Matthew and Nathan, with a third boy arriving in July. Congratulations to all!

Congratulations also to “Women Who Stutter: Our Stories”, for this milestone 50th episode. I am proud to be part of this magical telling of stories that have just been waiting to be heard.

Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, Jenny was pursuing her doctorate in higher education at UCLA. She was researching what impact choosing two year community colleges before transferring into four year schools might have on the typical college student.

Jenny jokes that she had vowed that she would not be one of those women who did not complete her educational goals because of pregnancy, but so far, parenting has kept her busy enough to not finish the PhD yet!

Listen in as we talk about acceptance, guilt and shame, and what it has been like for Jenny’s son Matthew, who is 9 years old and also stutters.

Matthew was having a hard time with bullying and teasing by peers, which ultimately helped Jenny begin to resolve her own acceptance issues with being a woman who stutters.

Jenny found a great speech therapist for Matthew, who has also met two other kids his age who stutter. Jenny herself has recently begun attending the NSA chapter in San Fernando Valley and hopes to attend her first NSA conference herself in 2012.

Credit for the podcast safe music clip used in this episode goes to DanoSongs.

As always, feel free to leave feedback for either Jenny or me. We’d love to hear your thoughts on being a woman who stutters who also has a child who stutters.

 

That was heard Sunday night a few times as Academy Award winners picked up their Oscars and gave acceptance speeches. It was an extraordinary night for people who stutter. We now have a dignified face put on that which we often hide out of fear and shame.

The King’s Speech won for Best Actor (Firth), Best Director (Hooper), Best Screen Play/Writer (Seidler) and Best Picture. Sweet!

Stuttering is hard to talk about, but has been made easier these past few months and will surely continue in light of this triumph!

My own mother, who doesn’t often say anything about my stuttering, or what I have done with being open about it, did so tonight. Using social media, she posted this on facebook  just a few minutes after The King’s Speech won Best Picture.

“Very good night that you really deserve and I know people (including me) appreciate how much you have done to break down walls and shatter secrets and shine a light in some dark corners.”

That was more important to me than anything else I heard the Hollywood people say. Thanks Mom! That touched me!

And below is David Seidler accepting his academy award and thanking people who stutter all over the world.

Two friends and I did a workshop on stuttering a couple of days ago at our community library. We submitted the proposal in early January to conduct a workshop in February, timing it about a month after the movie “The King’s Speech” opened here in my area.

We have done these before over the last few years and have had good turn-outs. In fact, from prior workshops, we have been asked to speak to practicing and student SLPs. Seems the speech community is always wanting more information on stuttering.

This time, Steve and I planned a 75 minute workshop that would give participants an opportunity to ask questions and share their thoughts about the movie. We also planned to provide accurate information and resource links. We met only twice before presenting. We advertised it quite heavily, through social media, our local newspaper, and the local speech and hearing association. At the last-minute, another friend offered to help and we gladly let him deliver a third of the material.

We had a great turnout, between 40 and 50 people. We asked people to provide their name and email if they wanted a copy of our Powerpoint presentation, which many did. A friend recorded snippets of our talk and I was able to put together a video summary of what we discussed.

What I want to share here is the mix of people who were in the audience, why they were there, and some of the comments we heard that night. We went over time by more than 30 minutes. People stayed behind to ask questions, comment, and thank us. No one left early! The library guy finally cued us that we had to get out, so he could lock up and go home.

I walked around before we started and introduced myself to people and asked what brought them to the workshop. There were 6 people there who stutter, who we had never seen at any of the local support avenues in town. They all mentioned in some way that the movie, and a local talk about it, seemed a safe place to come to learn and share.

One couple was there because their 7-year-old son stutters severely and is teased and bullied on the bus. They wanted to learn as much as they could. Thier son’s SLP had recommended they come. There were 3 SLPs in the audience, and two SLP students. One came with her mom, who recognized my name and wanted to know if I was the same person she had gone to high school with. I was!

One woman was there because she has a new staff member who stutters severely and she wants to make sure “she does right by him.” She said it seems no one else was willing to give him a chance.

These are some of the comments people made during our presentation or afterwards.

** A 68-year-old woman told us she had never dated, never married, and didn’t do what she really wanted to in college because of her stuttering. She commented to the father of the 7-year-old, “I wish you had been my father when I was a little girl”.

**A man originally from the Ukraine thought the movie and talking openly about stuttering was so important because “back in my day, we were told there was nothing that could be done.”

**A woman mentioned that she and her family had never, ever talked about stuttering. She shared “just this movie’s very presence has opened the door for conversation. My sister called me and said she had seen the movie. She wanted to make sure I had.”

**A co-worker of mine came with her mother. She shared that when she and her husband had seen the movie, her husband had commented “oh, I see it’s an emotional problem.” She shared that she corrected him, and had been able to do that because she works with someone (me) that stutters. She added that she felt community discussions like this were important to be sure people didn’t walk away with the wrong impressions.

**A woman came up to me afterwards to let me know she knew me. She said when I mentioned I had been fired several years ago, she knew about it. Her niece had told her all about how terrible it had been when they let me go, and that most people knew it had been because of my stuttering.

By the end of the workshop, both parents were emotional, mom especially. She never said a word – she didn’t have to. We were so glad these parents came. I have emailed them already, sent the presentation, and offered to come to their son’s school to talk about stuttering, teasing and bullying, if and when they think that might help. I told them it would have made a HUGE difference in my life if I had met another person, especially an adult who stutters, when I was a kid.

We made a difference Thursday night. Below is a 15 minute summary of some of the topics we covered in our talk. I am not a professional editor. The clip is not perfect. My voice sounds like I sucked on a helium balloon. But you will get the point.

Episode 37  features Veronica Lynch, who hails from Dublin, Ireland. Veronica and I share a history of being extremely covert, and then making the transition to overt stuttering. We are both contributing  members of the Covert-S email group.

Veronica worked for 30 years with the Irish Airports Authority. She has recently retired, with her last position being Insights and Strategy Manager, of which she was very proud. Veronica worked her way up the ranks in her career, starting with a back room job that didn’t require much talking.

Listen in to a powerful conversation about covert stuttering, “the aha moment” and what it is like living a parallel life. Veronica and I have remarkably similar stories about how we arrived at acceptance, and Veronica shares hers in-depth in this episode. She shares about how being covert means often we have to “be on” and “act” like we are on performing on stage all of the time, which coverts know, can be just exhausting.

Veronica also shares about what the journey has been like having a child who stutters, and how helping her daughter is what ultimately helped her. Veronica also touches on the profound notion that “when the student is ready, the teacher will find you.”

Veronica has been very involved with self-help in Ireland, and is an Executive member of the Irish Stammering Association.

Podcast safe music used in this episode is ” Scott Waves to Salty Grace” by J. Lang and is credited to ccMixter.

Can you relate? Feel free to leave comments or questions for Veronica or just let her know what a great job she did!

I have been face book friends since the summer with Elissa, a brilliant writer. Elissa wrote a heart-tugging essay about her young daughter Charlotte’s stuttering.  I linked to this essay before. Check out “Fighting Words” if you missed it.

Recently, Elissa posted a link to the song “Fix You” by Cold Play that played at a party she was at for really sick kids. She wondered if the song had just been coincidence. Elissa recalled how fervently her brother and his colleagues had tried to “fix” a young patient 7 years earlier.

For some reason, I commented on Elissa’s post that the song “Fix You” reminded me of the stuttering journey. We then shared this exchange, which really touched me. We have not met, yet we both spoke from a similar place.

She, the parent of a young child who stutters, anxious to make the right decision for her daughter. And me, an adult who stutters, who is still affected by my parents’ choices years ago about my stuttering.

Me: This song so reminds me of the stuttering journey. I met a family 2 years ago. Both sons stutter. The dad is a surgeon who for years thought he had failed as a parent, because as a surgeon, he is so used to fixing his patients. He could not fix his sons and it haunted him. Finally, he (they) reached a point where he knows he does not need to fix his kids . . . they are perfect just the way they are.

When I see this family, I am reminded of how I felt for a long time that I needed to be fixed. Now, when I see them, I hug mom and we watch her children laugh and play and enjoy life . . . And we know, that not needing fixing is the real prize. Thanks for sharing the story about the sick kids and the song.

Elissa: I’m so glad you wrote! I don’t know if you saw my post of last week, where I was struggling with exactly this question: wanting to get speech therapy for Charlotte because she is in so much distress, …yet not wanting to send her the message that she needs to be fixed. In some unspoken way, I believe my brother chose not to spend a tremendous amount of his precious energy on the attempt to fix his stuttering.

I truly understand and honor that choice. She’s far too young to make or even understand that kind of choice, though. I’m in the wildly uncomfortable position of needing to make it for her. The hardest parenting moments for me have been ones in which every course of action is a potential betrayal. I’m tempted to ask you what you would do if she were your child. No one person can tell me what to do, but I really welcome all the perspectives I can get.

Me: Well, you didn’t officially ask, but I will share my opinion anyway! I grew up thinking the awful thought that my father was ashamed of me. When I stuttered, he would yell at me, or tell me to “stop that”. In my 5-year-old mind, which I can still remember, getting negative feedback from my dad was the worst thing imaginable. I thought, “was I so horrible that even my own father was ashamed?” I learned years later that my mom felt incredible guilt for not standing up to my dad and insisting that I be allowed to get some help, because he wouldn’t allow it.

Needless to say, I had a hard time with my self-image and expressing feelings as a child. What would I do for Charlotte? Its different, because I stutter and you don’t. I would try to set an example for her that it is OK and that stuttering is just a different way of talking. You can’t model that for her, but maybe you can have her meet other kids who stutter, and get as comfortable with stuttering as possible so that her struggle behavior naturally decreases. I have no idea how I would have reacted to therapy as a kid, but it would have made a huge difference to meet and know others like me. Your heart will guide you for what is best for Charlotte.

Elissa: Thank you. My God, I can’t help feeling enraged at your father for his response to you as a child. Not that my rage is of any use to you now, but… if I picture Charlotte hearing those words, my heart could just crack in half. I’m …so sorry that your formative years were spent in that situation. I will definitely be attending the Friends events from now on… this past year was a little too soon, I felt, and that’s unfortunate, especially since the convention was in Chicago! My brother’s city! I know that he almost went himself.

This might sound completely messed up, but Charlotte’s lovely and wonderful teacher let me know that two other kids in her class have severe speech impediments also, and God help me, I was ecstatic to hear that.

Me: Your response does not sound messed up at all – we need others to be like us so we feel some normalcy.

What do you think? What would you have told Elissa? She welcomes all the perspectives she can get.


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