Stuttering is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. My dad and daughter both stutter. I am doing a series of posts on this topic. Today I am posting an interview with my beautiful daughter.
Me: How long have you stuttered?
Brittany: I’m not sure. Maybe ten years or longer.
Me: I’m not sure either really, because of the other speech issues. Do you remember NOT stuttering?
Brittany: Not really.
Me: Did you realize while growing up, there was a difference in the way you talked and the way non-stuttering people talked?
Brittany: That is a hard one. I knew there was a difference once I got older and and was aware I stuttered. When I was young because I had other speech issues I didn’t really notice.
Me: You went to speech therapy for about ten years as you were growing up. Do you remember when the focus changed to stuttering?
Brittany: Not really. I don’t specifically remember going when I was young.
Me: Did you find the techniques taught to be beneficial to you?
Brittany: Not always, sometimes maybe. I didn’t use them much.
Me: I know you remember trying the Speech Easy device. How did you feel about trying that?
Brittany: I remember being excited when we first tried it and it worked! And then it didn’t work anymore.
Me: Yes, that was a MAJOR disappointment for you and your dad and me.
I have heard people who stutter talk about being made fun of. My dad has told a story or two on that subject. It never ceases to amaze me how cruel people can be, even adults. Have you ever been made fun of because you stutter?
Brittany: Not exactly made fun of. I’ve heard a few snickers before.
Me: Has it gotten harder, mentally speaking, or easier now that you are an adult?
Brittany: Easier, I would say, because my feelings about stuttering have changed.
Me: In what way?
Brittany: A few ways really. First and foremost is that I have gotten involved with the National Stuttering Association, (NSA) and I have met other people who stutter. That helps a lot. Another reason is that I am finding people accept it more. Accept me more.
Me: What is the best thing you have found about stuttering?
Brittany: The best thing for me…I am more accepting of people who are different.
Me: Wow, Brittany, that is huge! I love that answer. Now, what about the worst thing?
Brittany: The worst thing for me is meeting someone for the first time, and not knowing how they will react, or what they will think of me.
Me:Do you feel like stuttering has interfered or limited you at all in your life?
Brittany: Honest answer? Yes…
Me: Would you like to expound on that?
Brittany: On a personal level, I feel like it may have limited possible relationships, especially growing up as a teen. A lot of people didn’t take the time to listen or engage me in conversation because (in my opinion) I stutter.
Me: That was hard as your parent, watching people not take the time to have a conversation with you. I know it wasn’t really about you, but more about how they felt; what they should say, how they should respond. I’m sorry, Brittany, that you missed out on some “normal teenage” activities while growing up, but truthfully, those people who didn’t take the time to get to know you, to have a conversation with you, to listen to you, well I feel sorry for them because they missed out on the opportunity to know a very special person.
Okay, switching gears…if it were possible to wake up tomorrow and not stutter ever again, would you choose to do so?
Brittany: I go back and forth with that one. For the most part, yes, I think I would. Another part, a smaller part, says no.
Me: That one is a tough one I am sure. Stuttering is a part of your story, of who you are. To change the stuttering aspect would change other things as well.
What would you like the non-stuttering community to know…what would you like to say to them, what is your message to them?
Brittany: Just because I stutter doesn’t mean I’m not a person. I have a voice and I am worthy of your time.
Me: Wow! Again that’s quite a message. I know you often feel like people avoid talking to you because you stutter. A very important message, that.
Me: You do a lot of volunteer work these days with people who have disabilities. Do you think stuttering enters into the reason why you do so?
Brittany: Again I’m more accepting, so yes, I think it does. I don’t know if I would have started volunteering in the disability ministry or not if I didn’t stutter.
Me: To those who stutter and hide it; or those who feel alone and frustrated due to stuttering, you would say…
Brittany: It’s okay to stutter. There are other people out there that face the same challenges as you. The NSA is a great place to start in finding support and acceptance. Check and see if there is a local chapter where you live.
Thank you Brittany, for sharing a part of your stuttering story with us. Watching you struggle through the years…to see you turn those times of feeling alone, different and frustrated into something positive…well it makes me proud to be your mama! You are an inspiration and touch the lives of many.
Brittany is a chapter leader for the NSA in our city. It is indeed a great organization. If you know of someone who stutters, check out the National Stuttering Association. It is a great place to get support and find help.