Hello. My name is…

September 06, 2011  |  Posted in: Members' Blog - Stuttering Perspectives   |  By:   |   0 Comments

What is most apropos considering this topic is to begin by asking you, the reader, to say your name.  It is a most fundamental aspect of individuality and certainly a most easily fulfilled request, correct? Well unfortunately it’s not.  If you are one of the estimated three million Americans that suffer from stuttering, a crippling lack of spoken fluency, such a request can be a daunting proposition.

More than an offensive half-witted caricature found in film and television, excluding the diametrically opposed and justly acclaimed rendition of Colin Firth in the Oscar award winning movie, “The King’s Speech”, stuttering is real and a person who stutters is an intellectually consummate person who endeavors bravely against real hardships.  A stutter, or as it is known in the UK – a stammer, is a neurological and motor condition characterized by involuntary repetition of word sounds, pauses, or complete blocks of speech, often with facial contortions, all in an effort to say one’s name, order a simple bagel with coffee, or answer a telephone call.  The person may appear nervous, but the stereotype of inherent nervousness or a weak character is a fallacy. Succinctly as I may state it, any anxiety comes from the vicious cycle of inability and the damning pressure to just be normal and fluent in instances of speaking.

Dry definitions and anecdotes aside, stuttering is of real consequence. It is a human experience, my experience. Like those of many PWS (Persons Who Stutter), my young life is a timeline beginning with daily ridicule by schoolmates at the wide eyed age of eight. Then, onto many and more years of muted and awkward social interactions, missed or avoided academic and career opportunities, and truncated relationships.  My everyday becoming small internal victories against the ponderous burdens of humiliation, shame and even personal defeatism.

However with similar plight also comes solidarity.  Much solace comes in the form of growing organizations such as the National Stuttering Association (NSA) which recently held a conference in Fort Worth, Texas that boasted over 800 attendees.  Much of this success is due to the NSA’s network of burgeoning support group chapters across the country and in major cities like New York.  Of particular note are the tireless efforts of St. John’s University professor Mitchell Trichon, in raising awareness and developing the Queens Chapter into one of the most successful in the nation.  It is all done to give a voice to those who stutter and assure those living in fear that they do in fact have friends and a commonplace of acceptance.

Certainly it is a medical condition without the gravity to warrant grand donations, drives, runs or walks, but a person who stutters is acknowledging of this.  Most dearly what we want is to be accepted and to be given the respect and afforded the patience to take the time we need to express ourselves.  These seemingly inherent social tenets are so easily lost in an overly urgent and efficient social landscape even for those that do not stutter, so one can imagine the plight of the afflicted.  The most we ask of the public is to show understanding and the path to that is greater awareness and acceptance of stuttering.

Let us all reconsider the benefits of honest attempts of understanding, not exclusively to this topic but in all things that affect our shared social climate. This way, we can begin to speak with each other and not just talk to each other, an ideal vehemently embraced by us who cherish every fluent word and thought we may be fortunate enough to speak.

– John Paredes

Disclaimer: Please note that the information and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Blog section of the NSA Queens Chapter website do not necessarily concur with the views or beliefs of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) or the Queens Chapter of the NSA. They are the opinion of each individual contributing author who attends the Queens chapter.

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