Tuesday, May 27, 2014

To Hide or Not To Hide (again)

This issue has come up again in my life because I visited a blog that I actually link to in my sidebar. I respect this blogger a lot, actually, so this entry is not in opposition to anything she has written or said. The issue in question is...whether we should be covert...or "come out" as stutterers. I read and hear different things from different people, and no matter how many times I hear or read about it, my stance never changes: I choose to be covert for my own personal reasons, and I stand by them despite opinions to the contrary. I just hope that those people accept my reasons as I accept theirs. I find it dismaying when people say to "be brave" and "come out" as a stutterer...as if my choice is cowardice or if I am not as brave in my decisions and actions as a covert stutterer.

I use fluency tricks to hide my stuttering because I want to sound like people who are fluent. Does this mean that I am ashamed of stuttering? Perhaps. That would be a matter between me and my therapist, if I had one. :) Does this mean that I don't accept my stutter? Not at all. I accept is as much as a person must accept that he has only one leg or one eye. I AM A STUTTERER. See? There, I wrote it. I am not delusional. :P I am okay with reality. However, this does not mean that I have to be okay with stuttering. There is a difference, in my opinion.

If you only have one leg and you are okay with that, but are not okay with hopping around on one leg or dragging yourself across the floor, or using crutches, and instead choose to use a prosthetic to look and walk like people with two legs, I would find absolutely nothing wrong with this. That is your choice. I use fluency tricks for the same reasons: to look and talk like people who do not stutter. If you were perfectly okay with walking with only one leg and did not want a prosthetic, that would be a choice that is just as valid. Either choice is valid, either choice takes the same amount of courage, in my opinion. It would be unfair of me to judge you if you choose to openly stutter. By the same token, I ask that you not judge me negatively because I choose to be covert. I believe that my reasons for doing so are logical and reasonable, and I have put many years of thought and introspection into them.

I will talk briefly about one of those reasons. I am an elementary school teacher. It took a lot of courage for me to branch out and take on this endeavor (second career), because I knew that it would place me in front of a classroom and in front of school boards and parents and in meetings where I would have to speak. But, it was my DREAM...and I bravely stepped out to accomplish it. But...people expect elementary teachers be be fluent. That is just the reality. Would I mind a college professor who stuttered? Probably not. He is not a role model for my growth and development. College professors do not teach and mentor children. School boards and parents expect elementary teachers to be able to communicate fluently. Notice that I did not say effectively. I believe that stutterers can communicate effectively. But, they cannot communicate fluently, and I would be competing in interviews with teachers who can speak fluently, and I don't think I would stand a chance with a school board if I openly stuttered. I believe that I would be passed over, all things being equal (I was just as qualified), and the more fluent teacher would get the job. For reasons of stigma and because probably most people believe that a stuttering teacher would not be as good a role model for children who are developing their communication skills as one who is fluent. Again, notice my wording. I am being careful to say things in a specific way.

Is this fair? Of course, not. But...it is reality, and I do not choose to take on the fight to force a school to hire a stuttering teacher for the sake of equality. I am not ready to take on that battle. I would rather use my fluency tools to hide my stutter, just as a person with a glass eye uses it to hide the fact that he only has one eye. I want to be regarded as a fluent speaker, and that is my valid choice. I hope this makes sense to...somebody. Thanks for reading. :)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hello. I Stutter - A New Blog :)

I discovered a new blogger, also a fellow stutterer, who found my blog and then commented on some of the things I said. I appreciate that kind of attention because it means that a person actually read what I wrote, processed it, and then wanted to expound on what he read. That's awesome. I enjoy meeting new people and welcome him to the blogging community and will have his blog added to my links in the sidebar. Thank you for starting your blog. The world needs to hear our voices and your entry is welcomed! :)

His blog is at this address: http://helloistutter.com/ and he says it's a new blog and he's just starting, but has been taking notes on stuttering for years, so it will be great to see what kinds of insight he provides, whether his own, or from resources he has been reading, researching etc.

I enjoyed the portion where he mentioned how he gets around reading aloud, as I talked about in my last entry. Here is what he said:

"I know what I end up doing sometimes when I have to read printed text is gloss over it, maybe mumble a bit, and then try to find some more points that are important. This happens a lot at work during meetings when there’s a Powerpoint. I don’t like reading the slides, and I hate it when people do the same. So when I do my own presentations, I put only a few words and then “fill in the blanks” orally during the meeting. I’ll say something like, “so, then, you see, there, in point 1, you can see it … (pause) … and the second point is also important.” Let them do the reading!"

I love that, and should have thought of such a work-around on my own. I'm reading texts in a support group and there's no reason I couldn't use some of these little tricks...so, thank you for the tip. I will definitely be incorporating it into my own experience.

by Daniele Rossi
I also wanted to mention that a FB friend of mine, also an author, has released his new book "Stuttering Is Cool" and I fully support that endeavor and wish him all the luck in the world. He is also a blogger and I've enjoyed his blog for a long time. Apparently the book is helping others and that's wonderful. I still have my disagreements over the idea, but that's just my opinion, and I have my own reasons, and has no bearing whatsoever on my endeavor to encourage everyone to find what works for them...and thrive with it. I make no judgments. Well...unless you are trying to capitalize on stuttering by peddling some snake-oil cure. Don't do that, because I WILL be all over you like white on rice. This book, however, does not do any such thing.

I've made many posts here over the years exposing these snake-oil, sinister money-grubbing idiots who use stuttering as a means to make a buck, peddling "cures" that are clearly not so. If you find any, please contact me, and I will expose them by researching and getting to the bottom of what they are doing. Thanks for reading and thank you to my new blogger friend! Be well, all, and enjoy the summer months to come!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Teaching Elementary Students

Since beginning this blog (2006), I have become a licensed K-8 teacher (no, this is not me in the photo) and have relocated to the southeastern part of the United States. Some have asked me how can one be a teacher...with a stutter? For me, it is because I mostly do not stutter when I am speaking in front of others, especially with children in a teaching capacity, and I also stutter much less in professional situations. If you want to know the reason why, I am afraid that I can't tell you. I simply do not know the reason. I am sure it has something to do with psychology, some reverse-psychology, or some affected-speaking technique, or something like that. I do know that if I talk in a "teachery" voice, or in some other affected voice, my stutter completely leaves. This is a form of speech therapy, actually, for stutterers, but it does not last forever. If you talk that way all the time, eventually that would become your new manner of naturally speaking and your stutter would likely just return. That is what I have learned from studying it, anyway.

My dream has always been to be a teacher and now that my own son has graduated from Georgetown University (last Saturday) and is beginning his own teaching career in the Fall, it may be that this desire to teach is either hereditary, or perhaps he just naturally developed his own love for teaching. Either way, I am proud of him. He will be teaching Spanish in either middle grades or high school. I don't remember if I mentioned this, but prior to teaching, I was a children's counselor in a psychiatric hospital in Pennsylvania. That was a wonderful job and I actually worked with a few stuttering adolescents. One boy really opened up to me and was really comfortable talking to me. His story was very sad, his parents were very verbally and psychologically abusive and his self esteem was extremely low. I hope he is doing well. He is very intelligent, writes very well, and just needs people around him to build him up and support him.

I am finding it harder to read out loud recently and that is just another of those phases I suppose I am going through. In my support group, I try to pass on reading because I hate to struggle, it's exhausting. Sometimes my fluency tricks will help, mostly they don't, however, because one of the biggest fluency tricks I use is word substitution, and you can't really get away with that when reading from printed text. Other times I will just force myself to read because I think it's helpful and healthy to face ones fears.

Some of the students I have...do pick up on the stutter, even though it's minimal. When I talk to them individually, or if I address the class, I do stutter at times, and I have had students point it out. I usually will just admit that I am a stutterer and then they just forget about it. I haven't yet had a student who stutters. I am hoping that I will one day.

I haven't blogged in a while, I am hoping to get back to it more regularly. Thanks for reading and feel free to email me with any questions! Happy Summer to everyone! :)