Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tell Me Thursday - Second Born

I took this picture last Saturday, after the National Stuttering Association's Youth Day.  Bo, Nate and I walked down to Tempe Town Lake and enjoyed the beautiful day and the water after an informative morning.

Nate loves the outdoors, and can sit quietly taking it all in for quite a while.  It's rare that he gets the chance, because his brother and sister are more the type to say "Yep. Saw this. What's next??" without any contemplation time at all.  Lydia may change as she grows, but Colin is always on to the next thing.  I was glad he had the chance to sit and watch the water for a while on Saturday.

The Youth Day event was wonderful. Nate said that the best part for  him was hearing other people stutter.  I had never thought about that before, but he probably has never heard anyone who stutters speak before.  For him, listening to the panel of adults speak (and stutter) seemed to relax him. 

For me, listening to the adult panel made me realize that we haven't done anything wrong.  I had some guilt last year for not starting him in speech therapy sooner, and for homeschooling.  As I listened to these adults, almost all of whom have stuttered for as long as they can remember, I realized that giving him that early foundation of unconditional love and support was the best I could have done. He's being teased now, but for the last 8 years he hasn't been teased regularly. (And we're addressing the teasing.  Please don't email me and insist I must do something about it. Believe me, we're addressing the teasing!) But, in the years we homeschooled, he grew up with a familiar group of kids who knew him as Nate, and knew that he needed extra time sometimes to get all his words out. 

Part of the acceptance was because homeschooled groups of children tend to be smaller than school-groups and also because there are many more adults close at hand to keep an eye and ear on what's going on and are able to step in and address anything that comes up.

Nate is very self-confident, friendly and out-going.  Until the last couple months, we have never seen him let his stutter hold him back from anything.  I know that with the right guidance, these few months will just be a blip on his confidence levels.

He is not a stutterer, he is a kid who stutters.  Just as he is a kid who loves to draw, be outdoors, play video games and hug his mom. Stuttering doesn't define him, it's just a part of him.

And, since Saturday? His fluency has been extremely good and he has gone long stretches without a stutter.  One of the panelists said that he has some months where he has near-perfect fluency and other months where he struggles with disfluency almost every day. Nate will probably always have to work at his speech, but it will never hold him back.

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