Living with a stutter has been a journey. It is present equally in all the languages that I speak whether it be French, English , Creole or Spanish. As I teach languages, this heightens my problems. At the age of nine, I got acquainted with speech anxiety when my stutter appeared. I only spoke with a few trusted friends who saw me for whom I truly was.
As I started High School, my speech impediment got worse. I was so frustrated because I wanted to speak my mind, state my opinions and let my voice be heard. However, my throat and my lips would not cooperate. That is when my mother and I decided that we could not wait out any longer for my turn to come up for speech therapy in the public system. And so, I started my speech therapy in private clinics specialized in stuttering. During high school, I had private and/or group therapy-sessions for five years and more private therapy in my twenties.
My speech got better and better, for a while, because I was determined to beat it, but it didn’t last. I even gathered my strength and courage to present to my Grade 9 peers an oral presentation on what it is to live with a stutter. I knew then that I would never let my speech disfluency stop me from doing what I truly wanted to do.
I chose careers where speech is an important part of my day. After my studies, I started working as a special care counsellor. Then, I became a teacher and now I’m a learning specialist. Throughout my twenties and early thirties, my speech has not been as much of an issue to me, but anxieties over phone calls, talking to strangers and making phone calls still caused nagging anxieties and sometimes revealed disfluencies. Yet, I still have pushed through despite my occasional moments of disfluency, but it had begun to spin out of control before I discovered Lee Lovett’s book in mid-2020.
I considered myself to have mild stutter. However, in the last year, I found that my stutter has been getting worse and has become a significant problem to me. Perhaps, it has been due to the important life change I made of leaving Canada to move to New York City.
I was actively trying to fight back my stuttering. I was looking for answers, and I knew going back to classic speech therapy was not going to cut it. I had to find something that would help me overcome my speech anxieties and stutter, because I had obtained a leadership grant that would require me to offer workshops and presentations to large groups. When felt pressured, my eyes twitched, and I suffered way too many repeats and some unexplained silences.
Someway somehow I came across Lee Lovett’s book. It was exactly what I was looking for! The methods were clear and simple and were based on retraining the mind. I strongly believe in the power of our thoughts and our mind. I began reading aloud, doing daily mind-training and using most of the Crutches. It has now been about two months since I have had suffered a dysfluency-incident.
Lee Lovett is devoted to helping stutterers. He is a very enthusiastic coach. His methods are concrete, clear and attainable with practice. Also, the group of ex-stutterers that has gathered together at World Stop Stuttering Association (WSSA) is offering an impressive program of Lee’s books, video-lectures, and a vast library of coaching videos, all of which offer great resources to PWS and the cost is so much less than traditional therapies. Also, WSSA’s speech club (SAM) is a great place to hear Success Stories and to ask questions to those who have beaten stuttering. As far as I know, WSSA is the only organization of ex-stutterers in the world. Anyway, WSSA a great resource for all of us – a community where everyone has beaten it or is beating it, all working together for the same goal.
Today, I still get nervous before a presentation, but I have learned to transform my anxieties into enthusiasm. I am so grateful for all of the progress that Lee’s methods and WSSA’s program have enabled me to achieve in such a short time. No, there is no “quick remedy”. The journey to fluency requires consistency and patience, but, at this point, I don’t even use the Crutches most of the time. Then, I hope that I, myself, will become a speech coach and help someone else overcome stuttering. Clearly, it can be overcome.
If you’d like to hear me talk about my speech journey, go here: https://youtu.be/Aac1qecFbns
CASSIE, New York, November 2020