LESSONS FROM A LIFE WITH A STUTTER
written by Iñaki Sánchez
My name is Iñaki, and I live in North Spain. Now I am 55, and never in my life have I known what it feels like to be completely fluent.
In these short lines, I’ll outline some lessons I’ve learned growing up and living with a stutter.
During these years, I have followed multiple therapies in search of the dream of talking and especially being perceived by others as a fluent person. Though not always explicit, most of these therapies were based on the assumption that there was something wrong in you that needed to be healed. They focused mainly on the mechanics of speech production: “If you were able to apply the techniques you learned in the therapy room, one day you would be fluent, and you would run a happy life”. But, if you failed, of course, it would be your fault for not having had enough courage to apply the techniques in all contexts.
I am not saying that speech techniques are not important, but in my experience, they don’t act on the core issue: accepting that stuttering is ok. STUTTERING IS OK. In my opinion, these three simple words are the key to preventing stuttering from affecting your life negatively. Though simple, it can become a lifetime task to act on them fully.
In my interaction with support groups, the somewhat frequent idea is that society is to blame for our lack of acceptance, thus taking away our responsibility of working to have the life we want. I have never felt comfortable blaming others for what’s happening in my life. There are not so many of us. For many people, the only person who stutters they know is just you. So, instead of looking for others’ approval, it is important to start for us in the first place.
In the acceptance process, helping others and being willing to receive help from others can be of great benefit. A human being is sociable by nature. Share your concerns and frustrations, take out what is hurting you from the inside and feel the joy of being understood by others who have or have had the same wounds as you. And you will learn to help others. With the help of social networks and an open attitude, you can find the right partners for mutual help.
The feeling of being alone with my stutter was the greatest cause of my suffering during my childhood. Learning about stuttering was very useful for me. It helps me to understand what stuttering is really about and its nature, and it helps to build a more realistic, objective approach to it. Knowledge demystifies stuttering and helps you find the right place it should have in your life. There is so much misinformation and myths about stuttering.
Finally, I would like to vindicate the new wave of modern speech-language professionals that treat not only the person’s speech but the person itself.