My name is Sergio, and I’ve been stuttering since I was 3, so basically all my life. Now, at the age of 18, I know that I am no longer going to appear speech disabled again. Now I know ways to avoid it. Currently I am working on eliminating the residual stuttering fears, anxiety and my tendency to avoid speaking in some situations. I want to stop worrying and start enjoying speaking.
All my life I have stuttered, and, obviously, this has affected all aspects of my life, and moulded me in the way I am and behave. So, in most situations in which there was any risk of stuttering and going through another humiliating moment, I would rather go silent or directly avoid the situation and go somewhere else. So, like most of us, I was seen as the shy, introvert, quiet kid in class. I’m sure most of you can relate to this. My parents, worried about me and my speech, took me to some speech professionals, but I didn’t get much out of these sessions. They pretty much taught me to speak with more pronunciation and some breathing exercises, in a nutshell. So, if you stutter, you’ll know the result of these sessions… So I kept on living my life, as best as I could, as a stutterer. I eventually learnt to hide my stutter pretty well, as I said, thanks to avoidance mainly. But this was no long-term solution, because the anxiety I was feeling was affecting me more and more. And as I grew older, it got worse and worse.
Last year I finished high school, so it was time to start a new stage in my life: university. Those huge classes full of new people, new professors, the presentations, the oral exams, answering questions in front of the entire class, aloud…. All these things were constantly rambling around my mind… I had to do something about it, and not going to university wasn’t an option.
After searching and searching, I stumbled upon Lee Lovett’s book (How To Stop Stuttering & Love Speaking) and later, on the World Stop Stuttering Association. As soon as I finished reading the book, I tried to apply Coach Lee’s methods on my own, and I did improve a lot (I reduced my stutters by 60% I would say), but I still needed some extra help to “finish the job”. So, I emailed Coach Lee.
One or two days later, to my surprise, he replied me back, and told me that at that time he was full, and that he personally couldn’t coach me at this time, but the coaches of WSSA (World Stop Stuttering Association) could surely help me. He urged me to sign up there, watch the video courses and get the most from all the things they offer. I followed his advice. I did watch some videos of coaching sessions, the video lessons, and attended a couple of the Crutch Practice Group sessions and one SAM Meeting. The community they have created is fantastic, and very supportive, and I was eager to start getting coached.
I was assigned to Javier, another coach, from Spain. We had 3 sessions. These sessions helped me understand the entire program much more clearly and really know what I should do in each situation in order to defeat stuttering. And I did precisely that. After my first session with Javier I stopped appearing speech disabled. The Crutches and what they call the Emergency Speech Plan helped me tremendously, although I still had stuttering fears and anxiety, especially when talking to teachers and groups of people. But it took me a while to realise that this is not a stuttering problem; it is an anxiety issue, and actually a lot of fluent people have these same problems actually. They avoid talking or they sound nervous when speaking. Or their hands shake, or they sweat profusely. All these are signs of speech anxiety, and millions of people have them too, fluent people I mean.
Stuttering is no longer a threat to me. I know what to do. Now, my next goal is defeating speech anxiety until I love to speak in any situation, to anyone. This is what I’m working on now.
One thing is clear to me now: stuttering is not incurable. You just need to have the right “weapons” and know how to use them. Seek the help of another ex-stutterer, like I did, and your stuttering days will finish very soon. Join WSSA and their community of people who stopped stuttering and people who are becoming PWSS.
SERGIO, Spain, April 2022.