A Message to People Who Stutter and their Parents
I am a person who stutters. The last three weeks in the New England Fluency Program have shaped my life in many ways, completely changing the way I perceive my stutter, myself and the world around me. I am in no position to preach about stuttering, and cannot speak for other stutterers in this room. But for what it’s worth, I would like to share my thoughts and advice after my experience at the New England Fluency Program, to the two parties who I think play the biggest role: the person who stutters and his or her parents
TO PEOPLE WHO STUTTER (including myself): Never let such an insignificant inconvenience shape your life. Never let yourself dodge situations that give you an opportunity to express yourselves. Never consult your stutter when it comes to a lifelong decision such as an education or career. Never settle for a hamburger when what you really want to order is a cheeseburger. Never avoid approaching a person of the opposite gender because of fear that your stutter will lead to rejection. I can provide you all with written statements from men and women who might actually find it cute. Be casual and humorous about your stutter. We have all seen in this program that such a simple approach can go a long way. Always do your best, and have faith in people, because more often than not they will look beyond the surface to appreciate everything else you have to offer. At the end of the day, your happiness is what matters, so never let anything get in the way of that. Thank God everyday for being healthy, because much worse things happen to other people.
TO THE PARENTS OF CHILDREN WHO STUTTER: Sometimes it is difficult to see that your child is suffering and you cannot do much to help them. The question is - is it the physical stutter itself that causes the suffering, or is it the way the person who stutters perceives it? Your role is to continuously instill in your child the confidence that he or she will reach places despite the stutter. It should be your priority to make sure that nothing gets in the way of your child’s ambitions. I would be much more concerned if I had a child who was ill-mannered or who was not doing well at school. It’s more likely that they will not make it in life. You too need to have faith… Don’t worry so much because your stuttering child will sense it. Here I am, a person who stutters, and who most of the time cannot express myself fully in a meeting. I work with colleagues who can speak in front of hundreds of people with absolute fluency. But many of these people have been and will be layed off because they do not work well in teams, do not have leadership qualities or do not contribute adequately to the business. I, on the other hand, a person who stutters, am excelling at what I do because I have given my superiors reason to look past my stutter. I owe my father a lot for always adjusting his perception of my stutter. Every time I proved to him that I could still make it in life with my stutter, he helped build my confidence and continuously drove the idea that my happiness is what matters and everything else I do in life is to work towards it. This is the message that I hope every parent will drive.
I will be the first person to remind myself of these thoughts everyday. We have suffered enough. It is time to accept our stutter, and use it to inspire other areas of creativity and excellence. Most importantly, it is time for us to focus on our happiness.