This week is National Stuttering Awareness Week. Earlier this week, I posted a video of Nate presenting some information about stuttering. He has come so far during the last few months and we are very proud of him!
His speech therapist has helped him be more aware of his bumpy speech, and has provided him with tools for smoother speech. He knows that he needs to relax, breathe deeply, stretch out the first sounds for some words, and remember to pause during long phrases or sentences.
More importantly, he also knows that even if he tries to do all those things, he will still have episodes of bumpy speech. It's a long process, and he will probably have to be aware of it for the rest of his life.
One thing that has encouraged him is learning about famous people that have also struggled with stuttering. Did you know James Earl Jones, Julia Robers, Darryl Sproles, Joe Biden and even Lewis Carroll stuttered? The Stuttering Foundation has a great list on their site of famous people who stutter. They also have a number of free brochures that can be downloaded with information about stuttering.
The National Stuttering Association has local group meetings that we will look into this fall (they don't meet during the summer.) They have a video on their site right now of a recent interview with Joe Biden on The View, where he talks about growing up with a stutter. I found it interesting, especially that he was still embarrassed about it as an adult.
I am so very proud of our son and the effort he has put forth in working on his stuttering. It has never stopped him from speaking to others, and he is a very happy, friendly child. I have definitely noticed that he does talk with his peers more often now that he has been learning how to control it more.
It still breaks my heart, though, when I hear kids make fun of him, or talk behind his back. Everyone has their quirks and differences -- and I would hope that parents would help their children learn to accept others as they are. I'm happy that Nate is learning to stand up for himself more often, and is excited to help others learn about stuttering.
If you know someone who stutters, Nate says the best thing you can do is to let them talk. Don't interrupt or finish their sentences for them! It also doesn't help if you tell a child to slow down. It's not that they have to slow down; it's that their brain and their speech machine has had a disconnect somewhere along the line and needs a moment to reconnect. He says the best thing you can do is be a friend.