I hate stuttering; I love my stutterers

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I loved The King’s Speech and strongly recommend it. But if you spent 10 minutes with my 4 year old you would learn that stuttering doesn’t always arise out of some sort of social self-consciousness or timidity that can be overcome by strength of will. People who feel sure of their “right to speak” (as a 4 year old is!) still stutter.

The same is true of Duncan.  He has no self-consciousness about the way he talks.  Thankfully, his stutter is mild and gradually improving  so perhaps he never will.  His stuttering began gradually–a stealthy slide into repetition, until one day I realized that he had been stuttering for months.

Kate’s descent into dysfluency has been sudden. One week last fall it was clear that she had started, this spring week has been a calamity; every day she is less fluent than before. No one understands the cause of stuttering. What has prompted Kate’s speech crisis? We will never know. Who is this thief stealing my children’s ability to speak? When will they get it back? All mysteries.

Often making progress on stuttering takes a lifetime of work and therapy; other times stuttering spontaneously resolves. Girls are less likely to stutter and also more likely to cease stuttering spontaneously. Kate currently attends Talking Time, a special district-sponsored once a week speech preschool for working on articulation (pronunciation).  The teacher informed me this month that they don’t work with fluency (stuttering issues) so if Kate doesn’t improve over the summer, she won’t be eligible to attend in the Fall. I was tempted to say something bitter and defensive like: “Stuttering isn’t contagious!  She won’t contaminate the other children!” But instead I just reminded myself that she has made excellent progress on articulation and probably won’t even need Talking Time’s help in the Fall. (The question of whether our home elementary school’s speech program will be helpful for her stuttering is something I’m less sanguine about.)  Two years ago, I would have thought the level of vocabulary and articulation she manages today almost impossible for her. I wondered whether she was making any progress at all. Two years later I can say that things change. Here’s to change for the better!

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One thought on “I hate stuttering; I love my stutterers

  1. From the research that has been done, many children who stutter may outgrow their stuttering as they get older. However, if they do not, there is support for kids who stutter as well as their parents.

    As a person who stutters, I find that emotional support is just as important as therapy. For 35 years the National Stuttering Association (NSA) has connected kids and adults who stutter through local chapter meetings, workshops, on-line support groups and annual conferences in which over 600 people who stutter attend each year – including such keynote speakers as VP Joe Biden, Arthur Blank (Owner, Atlanta Falcons), Annie Glenn, John Melendez and John Stossel.

    The NSA also offers on-line and phone support for parents of children who stutter as well as publish tons of great brochures, pamphlets and other reference materials for both people who stutter and professionals. To learn more, visit http://www.westutter.org.

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