Hi! I am a SAY alum turned teaching artist. I don’t remember the first time I stuttered but I remember having severe tantrums as a young child because I was unable to express myself through communication. Although the severe tantrums definitely affected my mother (sorry mamma), stuttering didn’t affect me until grade school.
I remember being in speech therapy and having eleven speech therapists in eight years and only two of them knew what they were doing. I remember being teased every now and then but it wasn’t until high school that the teasing went from bad to worse.
It began with teasing and mocking because of my inability to communicate in a timely manner. I thought the bullying at school was bad enough until I came home one day to find that the bullying began spreading to the internet. Because of the intense bullying and public ridiculing, I completely lost who I was.
My personality, my positivity, and my energetic spirit diminished. I decided not to tell anyone what was going on until ten months later when my parents decided to take each one of my siblings (I am one of four) on a one-on-one trip. My mom and I went on a beach trip and it was there that I opened up to her about what had happened that school year.
After the trip, I sat down with my parents and we decided to begin homeschooling. That was the best decision I could have possibly made.
Homeschooling led me to learning about SAY which was one of the most life changing experiences. I am originally from Pennsylvania so my mom would drive the 3 hours each way just for me to experience everything SAY had to offer. I am so thankful that I have a completely supportive mother who was willing to do that because if it wasn’t for SAY, I would still be the timid and unconfident girl that I once was.
SAY taught me how to listen, how to love others, and most importantly how to love myself.
In conjunction with SAY, homeschooling also led me to an amazing speech-language pathologist, Angela, who told me her job wasn’t to fix me but to help me accept the fact that I stutter. She pushed me to my limits which sometimes made me so angry but I realized the outcomes were well worth the moments of being out of my comfort zone. It is because of Angela that I am now comfortable talking to strangers, making phone calls, and doing every day activities that would previously cause me to have emotional break downs. She also encouraged me to become a speech-language pathologist. When she first suggested the idea, I basically told her she was out of her mind. Nevertheless, here I am, in my last year of undergrad majoring in speech-language pathology.
This past year, I have had two clients which completely solidified that this is what I want to do. One of my clients, a woman in her eighties, expressed to me that she appreciates my communication disorder because to some degree, I know what she is going through emotionally. I will be the first one to say that stuttering can totally suck but it is moments like these that validate that stuttering also has a positive aspect to it.
My confidence and independence has grown immensely after my experience with SAY and Angela.
Now that I am a teaching artist at SAY, I get to experience working with some of the most creative and inspirational kids and the life changing impact is just the same as it was when I was a participant in the program. Through SAY, I have met some of the most incredible people and have made lifelong friends. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today.