Today, October 22, is the National Stuttering Awareness Day. Some of you have never heard the word stutter before, and for those of you that have you may not know much about it.
I am writing to you today to tell you about my experience with stuttering. No one knows exactly what causes stuttering. As well, there is no cure for stuttering. There are many different therapies, and meditation, as well as devises to try and help, but there is no cure.
When I was 9 I first developed a stutter. You can only imagine what it’s like for a 9-year-old boy not to be able to say what’s on his mind. The first memory I have of stuttering was when I was in a shoe store. I was trying to tell my mother that I wanted to buy a certain pair of shoes, but I couldn’t get a word out. I left the store feeling worthless.
Then came the first day of school, and you know what that means, everyone has to tell the teacher their name. For anyone that stutters they know that saying your first name is the hardest thing to say. When I was asked to say my name I had a bad block, and the whole class burst out in laughter. I later used to ask my friends to tell the teacher my name; as well I once wrote my name on a paper and held it up to the teacher.
Stuttering has become a part of my life whether I liked it or not. When growing up I had to learn how to deal with it alone. No one else in my class, or my grade stuttered.
A half a year ago I was looking online and found the NSA (National Stuttering Association). It said on their site that there was a meeting in Queens, as well as in Brooklyn. The thought of meeting other people like me was astounding. I took down the date, and showed up to the meeting not knowing what to expect. I didn’t want to tell anyone because people might think I’m going to some kind of AA meeting.
It turned out to be a group of the nicest people I have ever met. We joked, and talked about different things we go through as being people who stutter. I walked out of the meeting a changed person. I couldn’t tell exactly what happened; I was in a different world.
It was as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. All of these people just got me 100 percent. They had gone through the same things I had. At the meeting I was told about the conference that takes place every summer. If I was happy to meet 10 people who stuttered, can you only imagine what it would be like to meet 700. I signed up for the conference that night.
Being at the conference changed me in a way I never thought possible. I was surrounded by people that knew everything about me by just saying hi. We even had a Friday night Shabbos meal for the Jews that were there. I learned at the conference to fully accept and understand my stutter.
No longer was it something I hated, but merely something I had to deal with. Like when someone has allergies. No longer does it bother me when I get a weird look trying to order pizza. No longer do I feel bad when I block on my name.
It gave me the confidence to feel comfortable in my own shoes. I am currently taking a public speaking course, and not letting my stutter have any effect on my decisions.
Whether you are a person who stutters or not, I hope that you can all learn from my experience. Don’t let anything hold you back, you think everyone is always looking at you and judging you. Give people a chance, most people don’t care if you are a little different. When I told my class that I stuttered it was no big deal to them.
If you are a person who stutters, or know someone who stutters, visit NSAstutter.org