Preface by SAA: For many different reasons, there are many PWS who prefer to remain anonymous. They appear on Facebook and elsewhere online under pseudonyms and post artwork or nothing in lieu of their pictures. SAA respects their wish for privacy. The story below, of Soraia Zalin, is about one such PWS. It is her story, as she approved it.
To this day, I do not wish to publicly announce my stuttering to those who do not know, and that’s why I prefer not to put my picture online and that’s the reason I present my story under a pseudonym, Soraia Zalin, which is the family name that I use on Facebook. There is a lot of shame and pain involved in stuttering, especially as a child and a teenager, and I never stuttered as much as I did, at 37, just before I began reading Lee’s book. Anyway, if SAA should ever need to prove that SAA did not make up my self-cure story, it may disclose my identity in a limited, non-public manner. I am not a writer, especially in English as it is my second language, but this is my story, as I told it to SAA and I edited and approved it.
I lived in Brazil until two years ago, when I moved to Victoria, Australia with my husband and daughter. As an adult, I was a classic situational stutterer; that is, in my case, I stuttered mainly before strangers; so, many people did not know that I stuttered, but, when I did stutter, I often stuttered or blocked so badly that neither the listener nor I would forget it for a very long time, and it made me want to vanish on the spot. As a result, I was always at risk of such public humiliations, and this made me worry about it most my waking hours. Portuguese is my first language, and my English is still a work in progress. I’ve had other therapies, but they didn’t help much. My prior therapists haven’t believed that stuttering is a mental thing and those therapies haven’t helped much. I believe that my mind has everything to do with my stuttering.
When we moved to Australia, my stuttering grew much worse. I couldn’t even read aloud to my then six year old daughter, and, when I had to introduce myself to strangers, I often froze and couldn’t say my name and then much of anything. When I went shopping, I couldn’t ask even the simplest questions. Stuttered words and complete blocks became common for me. While I had stuttered in Portuguese, it had not been nearly so bad. My stuttering humiliations were constant and grew steadily worse. I became desperate. I went online and found Facebook and other places where stutterers exchanged ideas, and I searched everywhere for answers, but I found no help. In fact, the more time that I spent in stuttering-related blogs, the worse that I stuttered. No one had any answers, and many kept saying, “Stuttering is incurable.” The goal of many PWS seemed to be a fatalistic acceptance of a lifetime of stuttering. I couldn’t accept that. I felt increasingly isolated and emotionally drained. I began to wish that I could move back to my native country, Brazil, and give myself the relief of not needing to compound my stuttering by being forced to converse in English.
Then, I found Lee Lovett’s book, and I loved it so much that I read it three times, and I tried hard to apply the methods (reading aloud, doing auto suggestions and practicing the “Crutches”, as he calls them, every day), and I did begin to see real improvement in my speech, but I wanted more. Lee had put his email address in his book and he had invited readers to email him; so, I did. This was mid-March 2017. We began to Skype every week. His confidence in my improvement helped me so much, as did his demonstrations of ways to avoid stuttering. I also Skyped with SAA’s Johnson Sun and I am planning to Skype with Prathusha Ravi soon. After eight Skype sessions, I surprised myself: I basically stopped stuttering! My reading aloud became flawless, and, for the first time since she was a baby, I could then read aloud to my daughter, which thrilled me beyond words. I still need to keep working at SAA’s methods to keep the stuttering from recurring and to improve my mind training and my life in general.
I was and am using various “Crutches”, and I seemed able to avoid stutters, one after another after another, until I didn’t have one stutter incident for one week, then two weeks and then three weeks. When you don’t have stutters day after day, the fears become less and less. Each week, SAA asked me, “This week, did any stranger think that you had a speech problem,” I had to answer, “No, they didn’t.” After giving that answer for a month, it became obvious, even to me, that I had passed SAA’s Self-Cure Test: Strangers no longer viewed me as a stutterer. SAA’s reading aloud, auto suggestions and crutches were the keys to this progress.
I’m not through working on my speech. Sometimes when life’s problems hit me hard, I can relapse into some stuttering, but, when I return to my daily reading aloud, AST’s and using the Crutches, I get back on what SAA calls the fluency wagon. While strangers don’t see me as a stutterer anymore, I want to achieve all of SAA’s goals. I want to become the best speaker in my peer-group, and I want to help some other PWS self-cure, and I want to keep doing my auto suggestions and keep improving myself as a person, until I reach the goal of being able to say, “Stuttering was a great blessing in my life.” I have a way to go, but I believe I can do it, and, best of all, I’m not stuttering now.
If you think that there is no cure for stuttering, you are wrong. SAA is full of ex-stutterers and they’re helping more PWS join them as “PWSC” (people who self-cured) every single month, and they are to be applauded because they not only help PWS, they do it for love. They ask nothing in return, except to share the PWSC’s story with other suffering stutterers. Anyway, you should join us/SAA and start self-curing right now. Maybe by then, I’ll be able to help coach you, and I may even tell you my real name.
Soraia Zalin, Brazil