Knowing exactly what I want to say and not being able to say it has been one of the biggest challenges of my life. I am Alexandra Torrez, a 24-years-old girl who stutters from Bolivia, and today I’d like to share a bit about my experience.
It’s been 20 years since stuttering has been my partner. During this time, we have had many bad moments, but also very good moments the past few years. Particularly, since I started to study Speech and Language Pathology.
At the beginning, I was very afraid of many things. I used to ask myself “a speech therapist who stutters?”, “what would others say?”, “will I be able to do it well?”, and many others similar questions. However, everything changed one day when I had the chance to listen the conference of one of the greatest professionals in this field.
After that moment I understood that it’s my path to get involved into the world of stuttering as a professional and as a person who stutters. There are many clinicians around the world who dedicate their profession to this area, and I’ll always admire and be grateful for that. We need more professionals to help our community of people who stutter, and I want to be one of them.
Unfortunately, currently in Bolivia there is no foundation or center dedicated to people who stutter. In that regard, my country is lagging behind in respect to all the new information that is known on this subject (and I hope that this can change soon). Nevertheless, last year I met a person who opened the doors for me to work with people who stutter in Peru, providing therapy to pre-school and school children with this characteristic.
This has allowed me to realize that acceptance is one of the main factors in therapy, and that as therapists our role is to be there for the client and his family during this process. I learned that we should talk about stuttering from an early age, because when we do this we give the child the opportunity to explore and get to know his way of speaking, instead of being afraid of it. Helping to accept stuttering is to give them an opportunity to embrace this way of speaking, and it’s important to start working on this from the moment they decide to seek help.
Of course, I had to start my own journey of acceptance too, and this has been one of the biggest steps in my professional and personal life. Now I know that when you walk side by side with your stuttering, you stop giving it a negative meaning, and you know that fighting it is not an option. Now those things that once provoked so many negative experiences and feelings, are what give me peace in my mind.
If somebody would have told me 20 years ago that I would dedicate my professional life to stuttering, I would definitely not believe that. For many years stuttering took away many opportunities, experiences, and decisions, but I understood that from the moment that I started my path of acceptance, stuttering gave me back those moments, and multiplied by 100. Seeing stuttering from an acceptance perspective remind me that stuttering is not in my life to take things away from me, but rather to create unimaginable things.