Late last year I was asked to share my experiences on having a stutter, as part of the Louisiana Speech and Hearing Association Newsletter. Today I’m sharing it here. One in ten adults stutter, and growing up it was a huge obstacle in my life. Many, many people I know still deal with it everyday. Sometimes it gets easier, sometimes not. Hope you enjoy
My entire life I have stuttered. From early on, I felt that I was in a battle to not only understand my stuttering, but to cope with it. In this fight I was forever flanked by my mother and father. From the age of three my war with stuttering began and persisted. It was always there so growing up was difficult, and a large part of this difficulty was due to my feelings surrounding my speech.
Naturally my parents were bothered by the emergence of my stutter. Even more naturally, they sought out various methods of escape to make my stutter go away. Unfortunately at the time, our understanding of the situation wasn't as clear as it is now. The amount of knowledge we as a world know about stuttering now is night and day compared to what it was in 1985.
After being diagnosed with a stutter, the journey began to "fix" me. You name the treatment and, over the years, I and my family have tried it; thirteen years of trial and error has been an experience to say the least. Pointing the tongue on the roof of the mouth, slowed talking, or R-O-B-O-T talking as I called it, even the Speech Easy was tried, to no avail. Even the much dreaded "just slow down" was introduced and yet there was no change. In hindsight, I think it made my stuttering worse.
High school was the worst four years of my life. The picking and depression were so bad we even went back to speech therapy. After years of trying to figure out who I was, I genuinely think going back to therapy was a mistake. My parents and I are to blame for that, but honestly, how were we to know? After years of trying to cure my stuttering, I had started to see my speech and myself as a problem. Once again my parents tried to fix it. That process only made me think that stuttering was something I should be ashamed of. Stuttering isn't something to be ashamed of.
Also frustrating was the lack of progress. Nothing changed. In fact it got worse. What was even more jarring was how no one, in any way, asked me how I felt about my stutter; at least not that I can recall. To a degree, the later years of therapy were forced on me. After a long time, I decided to quit the therapy, and figure it out for myself.
Years got dark. One of the most vivid memories of that time was early on in college. At this point I hadn't been able to say my name in nine years. My full name never left my lips. The worst was introductions where struggling and giving up was a constant certainty.
Thankfully, that was the lowest point of my life and actually, I'm grateful for it. Because of the years of sadness, darkness, and the failure of therapy, I was forced to confront my fears and grow. This is what finally worked. Over the years I had become confident, learned to not panic, and most importantly accept what I can't possibly control. It's part of my life and always will be.
The biggest ray of hope was the arrival of the National Stuttering Association into my life. The members of this organization taught me the patience and understanding that I was unable to find in my formative years. Over time I've steadily risen in the organization from a group member, to a chapter leader. I've since stepped down in order to let others lead the chapter, and have instead taken on the role of the Regional Chapter Coordinator for the Central Region of our country. I oversee 17 chapters and help them to grow in the way I have grown.
In closing, my journey to acceptance has been long and the victory well deserved. I thank all of the people who have helped, and all the therapists who have tried. For all of the tools that have been shown to me and have helped, I'm grateful.
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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