I’ve stuttered since I was 3. I always knew I didn’t speak like everyone else and always got frustrated with myself when I talked. I saw an SLP on and off throughout my elementary, middle, and high school years. There were times when my stutter became more pronounced, then I’d go to speech therapy and I’d become more fluent. Then I’d stop going to therapy and my stutter would become more pronounced again. It was a vicious cycle!
Now I’m an undergrad CSD student at the University of Washington (UW) … stutter and all.
Embracing My Stutter
You’re probably wondering why I decided to become an SLP. How could I become one if I’m still stuttering myself? What clinic would want to hire me? Would patients want to work with me? These were all questions I asked myself, too.
During my first year of community college, I felt lost and had an especially tough day of strangers asking me rude questions about my stutter. Once again, I found an SLP for help … and I saw her for the next 2 years.
During this time, I learned so much about my stutter. I finally accepted it, instead of trying to force fluency. I became empathetic and a passion grew to help others, like me, with communication disorders.
As the UW NSSLHA chapter’s historian, my primary goal has been to bring more awareness about stuttering to campus. When I saw a post about the My Beautiful Stutter documentary on Instagram, I jumped at the chance to organize an event to show the film. Along with my good friend and UW NSSLHA chapter treasurer, Ashlyn, we organized a watch party for all students at UW.
As someone who stutters, it meant a lot to show this film to my peers. At first, I felt extremely vulnerable. Stuttering was something I tried to hide as a kid out of embarrassment. Now, here I was, showing others a film about people who stutter—and all of the good and bad that stuttering entails. This film is a realistic depiction of what it’s like to have a stutter. It puts everything out there. It felt empowering to show others a side of me that I’d kept hidden for most of my life. Because the reality is, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about!
The reaction my peers had to the documentary was amazing. It was so accurate, insightful, and inspiring. One grad student, in particular, told me that the film really ignited an interest in her to pursue helping those who stutter.
Let’s just say … there were some happy tears after this viewing party!
My Beautiful Stutter—Opening Doors
Since hosting this event on campus, I’ve made so many new friends who stutter. It’s created a whole new community for me and opened doors to opportunities I never would have imagined!
After our showing of the film, I met David Sanchez—a graduate student at UW’s Speech and Hearing program, a person who stutters, and a camp leader at Camp SAY (the camp for kids and teens who stutter that’s highlighted in the documentary). He was organizing a screening at Seattle Children’s Hospital and wanted me to participate in a Q&A session following the showing. At first, I was nervous and not quite sure I wanted to do it … but I push through my fears and said yes!
I’m so glad I did. The panel was filled with people who stutter, ranging from 12-30 years old. The crowd asked us questions about the film and we shared our personal experiences. Everyone on the panel was incredibly insightful.
It was an opportunity that never would have come to me if I hadn’t opened up about my own stutter, got past my nerves to organize a showing of My Beautiful Stutter, and put myself out there. That’s just how inspiring this documentary is!