How Speech Therapy Helped Me Accept My Stutter
I am 24 years old and I stutter. I started going to speech therapy when I was 5 years old and continued to go until I was 12. During that time period, I went to two different speech therapists three times a week. Over the seven years I became fluent. From the ages of 12 to 17 I did not stutter, nobody could tell I stuttered, and I did not consider myself a stutterer. Then my senior year came along and my stutter returned.
My parents and I attributed the return of my stutter to my nervousness and excitement over the life changes coming: graduating from high school, going to college out of state, meeting new people, and experiencing new things. We thought the stutter would disappear when I became acclimated to my new environment.
That (fortunately) did not happen. I continued to stutter, while simultaneously ignoring the fact that I stuttered. Over the course of my freshmen and sophomore years of college, my parents occasionally mentioned I should see what resources my school had to offer — if any — in terms of speech therapy.
I ignored their suggestions until my uncle expressed the same sentiment during Spring Break of my sophomore year. At the moment, I heeded his words and those of my parents and decided to investigate what my school had to offer. I was told I could attend speech therapy at my school, but I would not be able to begin until the fall semester. My parents were appeased and I was apprehensive about what the fall had in store for me.
When I started speech therapy again, it was at a time when I was ignoring my stutter. I did not talk about stuttering. I did not tell anyone I was going back to speech therapy except my closest friends with the caveat they could not tell anyone.
The fall semester came around and I walked into a speech therapy session for the first time in eight years. The second I walked into the building, I left my pride at the door and was open to what could happen. At the time I did not know I made one of the best decisions of my life.
As time progressed, I learned and re-learned techniques to decrease my stutter. I became more comfortable talking on the phone. I became more comfortable in public speaking situations and did a better at job interviews. However, the most important thing to come out of my two years of speech therapy was acceptance.
After two year of therapy, I was now able to accept the fact I stutter and will for the rest of my life – and most people do not care I stutter. As a result, I was able to openly talk about stuttering with anyone and help break down misconceptions. I now post articles about stuttering on social media and look into ways to get involved with the stuttering community.
When I graduated college in 2015, I graduated from speech therapy as well. I have not been back to speech therapy nor do I have any intention on going back to speech therapy. I am now involved with the Baton Rouge chapter of the National Stuttering Association (NSA). I have been on panels to discuss stuttering, and I embrace my stutter.
If I were to go back to therapy, I would be lying about my acceptance. I plan on breaking all stuttering perceptions, not encourage them.
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Thinkstock photo by: Jacob Ammentorp Lund