Saturday, February 27, 2010

Is it a Disability?

I suppose some would say that it is. It does prevent me from doing certain things that regular folks can do without really thinking about it: talking on the phone...ordering fast food comfortably...being a stand-up comic. 

Okay, forget the last one, but it was a dream of mine at one time. Not saying I necessarily have the talent for it, but, even if I did, I wouldn't be able to pursue it. I have had a few people say, "Yeah, you could. Just be a stuttering comedian." That might work...if I was interested in making stuttering jokes the center of my life. I do not.

Comedians I admire the most are those who are eloquent and who can deliver a comedic punch line right on time. Comedians like George Carlin, Ellen Degeneres, Steven Wright, Bill Maher. None of them would be able to perform their comedy if they had a persistent developmental stutter.

In my current profession, I counsel teenagers and regularly lead group psychoeducational groups and do one-on-one sessions with teens who have faced trauma. Stuttering does not hinder me in this profession because I can either use tricks to avoid blocks or I can just advertise that I stutter and usually this remedies any stress or problem stuttering might have caused otherwise.

However, I would've liked to have gone on to become a licensed clinician or therapist. Where I work, the therapists and clinicians all regularly hold family sessions with the teenagers who are in the hospital over the telephone. It's part of their job. I would not be able to perform this least not with any degree of fluency...and such dysfluency would surely be a terrible distraction for the troubled teens and their ailing families looking to me for direction or answers. Just calling from the hospital to the family's home, introducing myself and getting the session started is...terrifying to even consider.

I still intend to go back to school this year to get my teaching certification. That's always been a dream of mine and stuttering will not stop me from doing that. Teaching children and standing up in front of groups of people and talking has never been a problem for I suppose teaching is the way to go.

Do I view stuttering as a disability? In some ways. But not to the degree that I would ever expect to be placed on Disability and paid by the State or Government because I can't work. I certainly can. And so do millions of others.

Instead, I see stuttering as more of a personal obstacle. Something that I can overcome, to the extent that I can live with it, not let it hinder my life entirely and not let control me to the point that I avoid doing things that everybody else enjoys doing. My stuttering could never do that to me. I could only do that to myself. 


Carl said...

Hey Tony,

Interesting post. You might be interested in a blog post about this topic on the AIS Blog. linked below.

Great to hear you're finding advertising helpful. That, along with voluntary stuttering and clean stuttering is the often the strategy that makes the largest impact for the people we serve.


Starshadow said...

I keep forgetting that you stutter. That said, I know it's more of a problem for you than for me. I think this venue, this blog, may help other stutterers until there is some kind of consistent cure.

Disability can be just an extra obstacle. Many of us with disabilities work and live our lives until or unless utterly overwhelmed by those disabilities.

There's a huge list of actors, business people, authors and other public figures who stutter. Carly Simon, James Earl Jones, even Robert Heinlein are among these.

I hope one day there's a cure--because a great many people would be happier if they did not stutter.

This is good information you're giving.

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ig88sir said...

read poetry in a mirror. it worked for Joe Biden!

Nina G said...

but you stutter and be a comedian or teacher or anything!

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