My name is Brooke, and I live in Oklahoma. I have been stuttering since I can remember. I was always in speech classes in school growing up and it was really embarrassing. People would tease me a lot. I absolutely hated reading aloud in class and hated presenting in front of my classmates.
In junior high and high school, I couldn’t tell jokes because I couldn’t get the words out, so I just listened to what my friends had to say. I listened to them talking and thinking how I could get my words out without stuttering. Eventually, they would all stop inviting me to come around because I barely spoke.
My sports helped me with my confidence. I played volleyball and basketball in high school and played club volleyball as well. After a few years, I decided to learn how to talk around my words, how to replace other words for words I needed to use. Then I started spelling my last name first before I said it. My parents did everything they could to get me help for my speech. They even took me to Roanoke, Virginia to a place called Hollins Institute, where they taught me a lot of ways to speak with my breathing correctly. We worked on telephone calls to each other and practiced speaking like robots, singing while talking to each other, etc. Speaking like a robot isn’t fun, and it doesn’t sound natural. So, I still had the problem. I avoided talking. I had another problem as well: When I spoke to people who also stuttered, I stuttered worse because I felt super relaxed around them and thought “oh they won’t judge me”.
I practiced and practiced after that. It helped a little but didn’t solve the problem. I didn’t want to sound like a robot for the rest of my life. I learned to use my own crutches like saying “um, soooo, and” etc. then I’d start by saying something soft at the beginning of the word and get louder at the end of the word. If someone asked me a question and I couldn’t get my words out, I’d ask them to repeat the question so I could start saying my word when they finished.
As I got older, I learned to talk more around my words, or I would step at the same time I spoke. It got easier as I worked on it. I feel like I still stutter with my kids’ coaches or teachers. I still see them as superior. I’m better around my friends and family now. It breaks my heart that my son, Tyler, 17, stutters because I know what he’s going through. His problem is even worse than mine was.
Then, I got a major break. I found Coach Lee Lovett and the charity, World Stop Stuttering Association. I read Lee’s book and watched a lot of coaching videos, and I also started Skyping with Coach Lee. Since then, I have stopped all of my stuttering and I no longer talk like a robot. Coach Lee loves the way that I talk. I’ve learned many of Coach Lee’s methods, and I’ve used them as needed. I’m also helping my son, 17, learn them.
The bottom line is that I have stopped appearing speech disabled, and I truly am learning to love to speak everywhere. I think that I will get it done all the way to loving to speak. I’m also extra motivated to stay on WSSA’s program because it helps my son as well.
At this point, I believe what Coach Lee says, that most stutterers can stop stuttering and even learn to love to speak. My next goal is to help my son speak as easily as I now am. I also believe that WSSA, as the world’s only community of ex-stutterers is THE place to go for help with speech anxiety and stuttering.
Brooke, Oklahoma, July 2022