Like most moms, I did everything I could to make sure my babies had everything they needed to thrive; love, food, warmth, clothing, etc. But despite all our efforts, some things in life we cannot control and we must learn to adapt. However, learning to adapt isn’t always easy. When my Joseph began to stutter at age 4 I didn’t realize at the time all the challenges and frustrations that were yet to come. We started speech therapy right away and continued with that for many years bouncing around from therapist to therapist because nothing seemed to be working. It wasn’t until he was 8 (and by now very frustrated and ashamed of his talking) that we found Taro Alexander and SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young. We were at a national conference for young people who stutter called Friends, which by the way, we attend annually and has also been life changing for our family.
There at our first conference some of the kids from SAY put on a show and were part of the workshops we attended. I knew immediately that I wanted my son to be part of this group. There was so much love and positive energy that exuded from these kids who also had their own stories of frustration and humility. It wasn’t long after that that my thinking of trying to find a technique or therapist to help my son’s fluency all changed. We already had all that we needed to thrive and now the support and encouragement to do so. Joseph went every Saturday morning to New York and couldn’t wait to see Taro and the other kids from SAY.
It definitely became in no time at all a second home and truly the highlight of his week. I too, looked forward to seeing all the kids and how happy they were around one another. They became my weekly sunshine.
Young people today experience a continuous onslaught of stress at school, with peers, sports; kids have very little downtime to be themselves to just be kids. For kids who stutter, the everyday stress is even greater, worrying about whether or not your going to be able to say your name today or order the food you want. The stress can be so overbearing and for some people who stutter they choose to not speak at all.
What SAY has helped my family come to terms with is learning to accept yourself and be happy for your blessings, to be more confident and social no matter how the words may sound. My son is the bravest person I know. He is intelligent, extremely compassionate, fun loving, handsome, and has so much to offer the world. He is truly a role model for all. Life isn’t easy, it’s filled with many obstacles; its how you face these obstacles that make us who we are. My son faces life head on (and although I know he still wishes he didn’t stutter), he greets everyday with a killer smile and gets through the day leaving the world a better place despite his stutter.