This Success Story was originally posted in July 2019. Below is the original story plus Aman’s update as received in July, 2020
This is a very special Success Story. It’s about Aman, now 41, from New York. This story began in mid-2016, when I received a telephone call on my landline phone; I said, “Hello”, and there was no reply. I hung up the phone. It rang again, and the same thing happened. As I answered on my speaker phone, my wife was standing near me and said, “Could that be one of your stuttering friends?” Of course, but, as none had ever called me on my landline phone, I was caught off guard. The phone rang again, and I asked, “Do you stutter,” and I heard a groan at the other end of the line. I dictated my Skype name, which led to our first Skype. That was my introduction to Aman. He was the 38 and lived in New York.
Not long after that, we had our first Skype. His parents were both present – and continued to be for five or so Skypes. I learned that Aman was autistic, had Aspergers and had been a shut-down blocker from an early age. He had been seeing both a psychiatrist and a speech therapist for some years, and he still saw them weekly at that time. Even so, basically, he could not say one word to me. During our Skypes, he listened to me but basically scowled menacingly at me throughout our early Skypes. He could not whisper, read aloud, do auto suggestions or learn the Crutches. After a handful of Skypes, he quit. Several months later, he asked to Skype some more. Not long after that, he began to whisper and say a few words here and there, but he quit again. About a year later, in early 2018, we began Skyping again. This time, he didn’t quit, and he Skyped faithfully, most weeks, for the past 20 months or so and we became good mates. My guess is that we have Skyped around 100 times. In addition, Aman’s problems notwithstanding, he is a very good writer and has written me prolific emails most weeks for years now. He keeps me posted on his activities, good and bad news.
So, where are we? Well, I’m thrilled to report that sometime during 2018, we had a breakthrough. I asked Aman if he could be anyone or thing he wanted, what would he be? He instantly replied, “A clown.” I then suggested that he pretend to be a clown as much of the time as he enjoyed doing it. While I do not know what percentage of the time he did this, it started working. He even painted his face like a clown and sent me a picture of it. When he was being a clown, he was no longer a shut-down blocker or mute; he did communicate, although haltingly. It was a major breakthrough. Around the same time, he was able to read aloud without stuttering much or at all, and I urged him so do so as much as possible. He became an avid reader; we read poetry to each other, and he began to take poetry books from the library, and he read aloud by the hour most days. His speech steadily improved. However, when he came on some words, he just couldn’t say them, and I suggested that he either skip those words or spell them. This hit a resonate chord; he would skip or spell many words, but the more that he did, the less he seemed to need to do so, and his speech began to flow at a close to normal speed.
By mid-2019, Aman was, and is, able to speak to most anyone at a normal speed and without many noticeable hesitations or glitches. While there remains some evidence of speech issues, he can and does communicate effectively in the fluent world and at his job, where he is a file clerk.
The most important news about Aman is this: When first we met, he used to write very negative things on Facebook speech-forums, where he revealed a very dark and defeated attitude about life. This is NO LONGER the case. Aman is a HAPPY guy these days, and he is enjoying his life – as he will tell you or anyone. He has long since stopped seeing the psychiatrist and the speech therapist, and he doesn’t really need his speech “coach” (yours truly) anymore, but we still enjoying brief weekly visits. I’m going to end this Success Story with comments that Aman wrote and gave to me to include.
This Success Story was originally posted in July 2019. BELOW IS AMAN’S UPDATE, IN HIS WORDS, AS RECEIVED IN JULY 2020:
“I am spending so much more time with friends OR am wanting to spend so much more time with friends because speaking is so easier!!! I went to a friends house last week for a pool party, went out for ice cream with another friend another day the same week….I am volunteering at church tomorrow night. I am going for an ice cream visit Tuesday afternoon with another friend!!! Wednesday I have a zoom call with someone and I also am going to the library for a show!!!
“The main important thing is I AM SIMPLY OPENING MY MOUTH AT RANDOM TIMES TO SAY HI AND CHAT TO STRANGERS WHO WOULDN’T KNOW I STUTTERED BECAUSE THEY DON’T HEAR IT!!!
“Many many years ago, I would NOT have had the nerve to just chat to anyone and everyone….I would have chose not to do things with others because speak would have been pain in the but……..I went out to dinner at Applebee’s with 3 great friends 4 nights ago and was fully engaged in the conversation!!! Barely a stumble or flip flop……..maybe a flubble or 2 hear and there, but honestly I didn’t recognize it. I would have NEVER done this sort of thing so many yrs ago!!! I am also INVITING my friends to do things with me–it’s as though I’m making up for lost visits so many yrs ago!!!
“Let me relay an incident in junior high….my great friend named Steve invited me to go to a friend’s funeral for a relative…..I simply declined…ya know why?—-didn’t want anyone there to hear me stutter like a broken record!!
“In junior high, I NEVER went to school dances….why??? social interaction. I could BARELY social interact. MAYBE i could social interact, but I was so afraid of failure I didn’t go to these social events. Why go to a social event if one can’t socialize effectively or is afraid to stutter like a woodpecker???? I never went to school dances…..I didn’t go to my senior ball and junior prom. Social anxiety….
“I went to a pool party on July 4th, 2020. Some there knew that I stuttered but some didn’t…I didn’t look disabled or sound like it…[using] Crutch 13 no crtuche and be passionate and don’t plan words…NO FEAR!!!! The proof is THERE dude—I SHOWED IT…”
“I’m sort of a social butterfly now—meaning I want to be with others and hate being left out of fun things!!! Id like you to post this as a [updated] success story dude!!!!”
AMAN, New York, Updated July 2020