Thursday, June 12, 2014

Expert Commenters

You know what is annoying? Well, lots of things, but today I received a notification from my blog that somebody left a comment. I don't usually become annoyed with comments, unless they are as idiotic and uninformed as this one was. Is. I just don't get why stuttering seems to be one of the last conditions that it is okay to blame on the stutterer him or herself. This is what it said (says):

"I don't know where you get the idea that it's something we don't choose. It is, you know that we can speak fluently at times, we can sing fluently, and many people can talk to animals or to them self fluently. There is something in our mind that says, "i will stutter now." that's a choice." - Crims Blog:

What is annoying is when people come along with no expertise in this field, the field of Speech Pathology, medicine, psychology, therapy...anything even remotely related...and yet they state things categorically as if somehow they've been given some divine information from the Stuttering Fairy.

Just because we can speak fluently at times does not mean, in any logical sense that I can think of, that the times when we do stutter, must be a choice. That logic doesn't follow at all. That's what you would call a non sequitur. One thing doesn't follow the other. "You looked at me funny. Therefore, you must want me dead." His is even worse. "You looked at me funny. You must want to be an astronaut." That is about the level of logic in his statement.

The experts in the field do not understand all there is to know about stuttering, yet this chemistry student suddenly has it all figured out? Since I can talk fluently must be a choice! Listen, unless you have some credentials that lead the reasonable person to the conclusion that you know anything about the topic about which you are speaking, please keep your ridiculous opinions to yourself. It's an insult to stutterers everywhere to lay the blame of our stuttering on us, just as it would to blame Cerebral Palsy on the sufferer. Or any disease or condition.

The stupidity of such an assertion is that...why on earth would I choose to stutter? Do you somehow think I enjoy being humiliated in public or that I enjoy feeling inferior or enjoy not being able to express myself at certain times? Yes, I do not have to feel that way about stuttering, but that is the reality at times.

It is well known that most stutterers do not stutter when they sing because the process in the brain while singing is different than that when merely speaking. Same with when we speak in unison. Most stutterers do not stutter at such times. Again, most believe, based on RESEARCH (hello?) that it is because the process that occurs in the brain is DIFFERENT than when we speak alone. While there is likely a psychological aspect to stuttering, recent research indicates that there is just something DIFFERENT in the brains of people who stutter. So, they may never get to the bottom of why, precisely, people stutter. One thing that the experts, doctors, psychologist, speech pathologists, therapists, and other educated experts know...we don't *choose* to stutter. That doesn't even make good sense. If you would like to leave your own comment in response, the entry in question is here:

Please keep your uninformed and annoying opinions to yourself. Go back to your chemistry studies or something. Thank you.

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 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. 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: 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, 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 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! :) 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

18 Famous People Who Stutter

Mel Tillis
I love it when famous people "come out" as stutterers. Our community has so few visible supporters, unlike so many other causes which often have countless visible and vocal supporters and members. We stutterers are left with one or two celebrity advocates or spokespeople, and it's sad that one of those is Porky Pig, a Warner Bros. cartoon character whose affliction is used for comic relief...not advocacy.

Pam Tillis
Many people mention the one and only person who most know is a stutterer, Mel Tillis. He is now 81 years old, and few people under the age of about 40 know who this is, however. I am not familiar with even one song by this man. Mel Tillis is a famous country singer who was the winner of the CMA Awards Entertainer of the Year in 1976. He is also the father of another famous country artist, Pam Tillis. Maybe you remember a few of her 90s hits, "Shake the Sugar Tree" and "Maybe It Was Memphis."

So, here is a document that gives a pretty exhaustive list of famous people who are or once were stutterers. I must say that, for some, I have some doubt as to the veracity of the claim that they were or are stutterers. I have my own reasons for having this doubt, but I am not sure of the value of sharing the reasons. So, I'll just leave this here for you to examine for yourself. Be well!

Link - 18 famous People Who Stutter!


"Kenyon Martin, Bill Walton, John Stossel, James Earl Jones, Carly Simon, Mel Tillis, Alan Rabinowitz, Robert Merrill, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Ken Venturi, Bob Love, John Updike, King George VI, Frank Wolf, Nicholas Brendon, Lewis Carroll, Annie Glenn, Darren Sproles ... all famous and successful. And all stuttered"

Tips for Non-Stutterers

(I posted something like this years ago, but I recently posted about this on Facebook, so thought I'd post it here, as well. )

Often, people are only trying to help, and I always try to keep this in mind when a non-stutterer says something that he or she thinks is helpful, but is really not helpful at all. Some of them are downright insulting...but, again, they don't know that, so, maybe this entry will help. These are things not to say to someone who is stuttering or stammering. (The word stutter or stammer both mean the same thing. Stammer is a word that is often used in other countries, like those in the UK. I only use the word stutter.) If you aren't familiar with what stuttering or stammering is, please read this first: What is stuttering?

1. "Oh, we all stutter. I stutter sometimes, too." - No, not everyone is a Persistent Developmental Stutterer. That's like saying that just because sometimes you stumble over your own feet, you also have Muscular Dystrophy. That would be an insulting and disrespectful thing to say to someone suffering from MD, and it's also not something you should say to someone with a stutter. I know people are only trying to help, but saying this does not help.

2. "Just slow down. Relax. You'll stutter less." - Stuttering has nothing to do with the rate of speech and stutterers aren't necessarily uptight and in need of relaxation. Stuttering isn't caused by nervousness and nervous people don't necessarily stutter. I stutter when I am very relaxed and I stutter when I am anxious and uptight. There is no rhyme nor reason and this tip only makes me, personally, feel that, not only am I stuttering, and you notice, you perceive that I am the cause of my own stutter and if only I follow your tip, I'll stop. Now can you see why this isn't helpful?

3. "Oh, it doesn't bother me!" - I often get this when I express frustration over being unable to get out what I want to say. While I do somewhat care how I come across to others with my speech, my own stuttering bothers me, and I'm not really thinking much at the time if I'm bothering you. Do you see? Saying that it doesn't bother you...doesn't really help me. Again, I know the person is only trying to be helpful, but this doesn't really help.

4. Completing my sentence for me or providing a word that I am struggling with. - This is the response I most often get. Please. Don't do this. It's very distressing because it makes me feel like that I am speaking so badly that you think I need your help. I don't. If you just act normal and don't make any indication that I am stuttering, I will feel much better. If you try to help by completing a sentence for me, I am going to be just that much more aware of my stutter. It would be like if you saw someone with Muscular Dystrophy struggling to climb three stairs and you suddenly ran up and picked them up and carried them up. See? They would probably perceive that you were being impatient and couldn't stand to watch them struggle.

5. "Stuttering is just a bad habit that can be broken". - This one just annoys me. I had a caregiver who used to punch me in the stomach when I was 6 years old when I stuttered in order to break the "bad habit". It does not work. It's not a habit. It's a speech impediment and has distinctive symptoms that can't be stopped with will power. People who work to overcome stuttering work very hard to do so. They may form habitual reactions to their stutter, like anxiousness or self-conscious feelings, but the stutter itself is not a habit.

6. "Stuttering is caused by emotional trauma." - Nobody knows what causes stuttering. While there are stutterers from every walk of life and while some people have developed a stutter after a very traumatic event like a car wreck, most stutterers have done so since before they can remember and their histories are extremely varied. There are no common denominators. Again: nobody knows what causes it.

7. "Oh, I read this book from this link that instantly cures stuttering!" - Please do not suggest to me those "cures" that scam artists offer online. None of them work. They are predatory creeps who write these "eBooks" in order to get our $19.99 because they know that we are desperate. The promise instant cures by some technique. Children, the experts have been studying and researching this thing for decades. The most highly trained speech pathologists and experts keep the National Stuttering Association and others informed of the latest developments in stuttering therapies, and none of the information they give include instant cures. They do not exist.

Note: There are many techniques that stutterers use to sound fluent. I use a multitude of them, and if you are interested in hearing what they are...I will write another entry later listing them and how I use them. Most people I encounter do not know that I stutter. And that is because I use these time-tested techniques. I also encounter many Proud Stutters who have scolded me for using these techniques and who say I should be proud and "out" and should stutter freely. Sorry, that's not for me. I would no more do that than I would deny myself a wheel chair if I were a paraplegic and drag myself across the floor...or deny myself the use of glasses. My techniques are used to make me sound like everybody else, just as glasses are designed so that I can see like everybody else. Make sense?

8. It is not funny. - Lastly, if you find the sound of someone stuttering to be funny, please don't laugh and then apologize like that makes it okay. It's not funny to the stutterer, I promise you. It only makes them feel as if they are or sound like a freak. "I talk so badly, people can't help but laugh". How do you think that feels? Someone very, very close to me used to do this a lot, and they really didn't think anything of it and I still wonder why. If I saw an impaired person and had the urge to laugh at something that I found funny, I would get the hell out of there so that person didn't see. I would be mortified if someone with a disability saw me laughing at them. Have some social skills, please. It's not funny. If you think it's so funny, watch this and tell me what's funny about it.

Love you guys! <3 :="" br="">

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Celexa: The Verdict for Stuttering!

EDIT 6/17/14: I am noticing an overload of SPAM comments. If you leave one, you will be blocked and your comment removed. I really do not want to go back to only allowing approved comments. Please stop.) 

My verdict, anyway. I can't speak intelligently from the perspective of the scientific or medical community on the efficacy of Celexa as a stuttering therapy, but I can speak of my experience. As you might have read from an earlier entry on this blog, I decided to undergo pharmaceutical stuttering therapy by taking Celexa after reading a professional article about the possible benefits to stutterers. The article actually talked about the benefits of both Celexa and Xanax combined, but I didn't want to try them both at the same time, first, because they both cause drowsiness and, second, because if it worked, I wouldn't be able to tell which drug actually helped. So, my neurologist suggested 20mg of Celexa daily for 2 months....just to see the result.

I can report that my stuttering hasn't been affected at all, but I can also happily report that my fear and anxiety about wasps has all but disappeared! A surprise benefit! I don't remember if I posted about this before, but I have had a lifelong phobia of wasps. Not bees...they don't bother me all that much. Just wasps. (In the past, the image I put in this post would have completely freaked me out!) For as long as I can remember, I have never enjoyed Spring or Summer because of them. They look like little winged monsters that are constantly on the prowl, looking for somebody to torment.

My phobia was so bad that I would immediately become anxious on waking up in the morning, knowing I had to walk from the house to the car...from the car to the store...or wherever I was going. I avoided going outside on warm, sunny days. Any buzzing noise in my direct vicinity caused increased heart rate, increased awareness of my surroundings and total distraction from normal activities. I never, ever rode with my car windows down and I have actually nearly knocked people down getting away from an area where I thought there might be a wasp. At one point, I seriously contemplated moving to an area of the world where it was cold year round.

Since starting on Celexa, phobia has all but disappeared and I can say this without the slightest hesitation or exaggeration. It has changed my life. I now rarely think about wasps and even if I do, there is very little anxiety and if one comes near me, I simply move out of the way. I no longer stress on my long walk from the parking lot to the hospital where I work and I can comfortably sit outside, even if there are wasps in the area. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me.

The downside is...Celexa has had a negative affect on my libido. This is pretty well documented for Celexa users, however. Additionally, I have a harder time getting up in the morning. I now sleep up to 2 hours past my normal wake up time. I am going to see if a lower dosage might be just as effective. Lastly, I am eating less. It seems Celexa has curbed my appetite somewhat. Other than these three side effects, I have noticed nothing else negative.

A reader left a comment on the initial entry about her experience, and it almost exactly mirrors mine. No stuttering benefit, but her anxiety around people has all but disappeared, but she also noticed a decrease in sexual appetite. That may be good or bad, depending upon who you ask, I suppose.

At any rate, that is my experience thus far...I am going to report to my neurologist next month and see if she wants to try the Xanax. If so, I anticipate that the experience will be similar to Celexa. I don't expect any stuttering benefit, but I imagine it will have a beneficial affect on anxiety, which is what both drugs are usually prescribed for.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Learning to Stutter? The King's Speech Film!

If you are a stutterer/stammerer, no doubt you are aware of the multiple-Oscar winning motion picture "The King's Speech" starring Academy Award winner Colin Firth. Much was made over his phenomenal, real-to-life portrayal of King George VI who suffered from a life-long stutter, but who learned eventually to overcome with the help of an unconventional speech therapist. Mr. Firth won the Oscar for his portrayal and from nearly all accounts, the award was well deserved.

It seems, however, that Colin Firth is having trouble shaking the "learned" impediment. As you can read at this link, since wrapping the film and carrying on with other projects, he has found that at times, he finds himself lapsing back into the stammer that he learned for the role. He also indicates that when be thinks about the stammer, the worse he finds that it gets. Quoting from the article, "I guess old habits die hard." You can read the story at this link, which is a different publication.

When I think about it, I can honestly understand how something like that can happen. From what I have read, much of my stutter (I can speak only for myself) is learned behavior...a habitual form of approaching speech. While I maintain that it is an impediment, probably partly genetic and neurological, I believe that I have taught myself bad habits over the years that contribute something to my own condition. For example, when I hear a ringing telephone that I must answer, my stomach muscles immediately contract and seize up in anticipation of having to get out that first word, especially if it a string of words I must emit, such as one must do when working for some company. "Hello, this is Southwest General Hospital, how may I direct your call?" I made that up, by the way.

Perhaps if I were to go through some kind of behavior modification therapy, some of those habits could be unlearned, helping me to be, at least, more fluent in some circumstances. I can't say for sure, I only speak what seems logical to me. Of course, there are many other times when my speech is dysfluent for no apparent reason at all. For example, when I am at home with a family member or loved one and I am completely at ease, there seems to be no habitual behavior associated with my stammer. This indicates, again, at least to me, that much of my impediment is uncontrollable.

I find it beneficial that Colin Firth is such a notable celebrity because that will allow his predicament to be somewhat played out in the public eye where we can all see where it eventually leads. Will he drop the habit on his own, or will be require some kind of speech therapy to overcome it?

Can stuttering/stammering be the point that one know longer has control over it and requires professional intervention to remedy it? That would be an interesting case for the medical books. What do you think?