This past weekend I traveled back home to Syracuse to participate in commencement. I actually graduated with my Masters in Speech-Language Pathology following the fall semester, but I decided to travel back to Syracuse to walk. I didn’t have to do this, I already have my diploma. I just felt like I had been through a lot in my life and I deserved to participate in graduation. My stutter when I was younger was significantly more severe than it is now. During middle school and high school, the most difficult situation for me was when I was required to give presentations in front of my classmates. I remember I was always the last one to volunteer. I’m not sure why I used to wait so long because the anticipation would build and build the closer it got to my turn. One thing that I do remember is that I never requested any special treatment for presentations except to give me a few extra minutes to finish. I never asked to do my presentations separately from the class, and I never asked the teacher to modify the material in my presentations to meet the time requirements.
I didnt want to be treated any different than any of my other classmates. I think this is important. Yes, we do technically have a “disability”, however this “disability” does not impact our intelligence. We give a presentation just as well as anyone else can, it just may take us a little longer to give it.
I also remember very vividly when the teachers would require us read in front of class. The teachers would have us all take turns reading paragraph by paragraph. I remember I used to count each paragraph before mine to see which paragraph I would have to read. I always hoped the paragraph was short enough that I wouldnt have to experience to much agony when I had to read. When it finally got to me it was always a disaster. It used to get so upset during these situtations when I struggled to get through each word in the paragraph. I dreaded these days situations so much.
Becoming a Speech Pathologist had always been a life long dream of mine. Due to my sever stutter, I never really believed in myself enough to go for this degree. Instead I received a bachelors degree in Gerontology. For those who have never heard of this, Gerontology is the study of aging. I worked as a recreation therapist for 4 years before I went back to school for Speech-Language Pathology. I can honestly say that if I had not dwelled so much on my stuttering, I would have started my course work in Speech-Language Pathology instead of going for Gerontology. Don’t get me wrong, learning about the older population was very interesting, but I did not follow my dreams of becoming a Speech Pathologist. If I can give anyone who stutters advice about what they should do for a living, my advice would be to not let your stuttering prevent you from following your dreams. If you want to be a Speech Pathologist, go and do it. In fact, people who stutter are some of the best SLP’s around because we all know what it is like to struggle to talk. If you want to be a police officer, go and be a police officer. If you want to be an airline pilot, go and be an airline pilot. Don’t let your stutter decide for you. YOU DECIDE FOR YOU. And don’t let others tell you that you can’t do it. If you put your mind towards something, you can accomplish anything. You don’t have to be fluent to do any of these jobs, you need to be a confident and effective speaker. How do you become a confident and effective speaker? Start participating in support groups, start logging on to Stutter Social Hangouts, start reading more blogs like this, start going to Toastmasters meetings, start seeking out the National Stuttering Association. And Heck if you want to try some speech therapy, go and seek that out too. No one will do this for you. Follow your dreams and don’t let stuttering stop you! Any questions or comments, please leave a message on this post and I will get back to you right away!