Archive for July, 2008

Stuttering and what stutterers feel

July 13, 2008

Last afternoon, 8 of the graduate from SSMP 2008 presented their last speech in this camp. As I said, basically, the speech was about “thank this, thank that”, blah blah blah. This kind of eulogies seems a little nonsense to me, especially when I know that they were not as fluent and positive as they thought they could be.

The speech from the mildest girl, Tiera, was most touching. This girl, a mother of 3-year baby, is working on her SLP, and of course she has a very good reason for taking the SLP class that, she is a stutterer. Although she is quite fluent, that within a group of about 20, probably only I am more fluent than her, she has had a much deeper infliction by her stuttering. She cried, a lot, on the stage; she was talking about her past, and how hard she worked on fluency these weeks, and how transformed she feels right now.

I know that if I took SSMP program a few years earlier than SpeechEasy, I would be so transformed like her. Those with mild stuttering sometimes suffer even more than those severe ones, and this Tiera is a perfect example.

I have raised this hypothesis years ago, even before I came to America. My observation was, it was even harder to improve the stuttering of a mild one, and because of the sporadic failure of hope, a mild stutterer feels worse than severe ones. The severe ones may not see an escape, the mild ones always see the twilight yet the dawn never comes. Now, I know there are behavioral studies that support this idea. A constant stimulus will lose its effect along with time, but random reward, or punishment, can maintain longer, and produce profound effect.

For a mild stutterer, this sporadic, sudden lose of control is devastating, and, many tries may not be able to solve this problem, but only makes the pain more intolerable.

And here is a video segment in Chinese I just found. Sorry but only Chinese speakers can enjoy this pre- and post-therapy speech by an adolescence.

The speech of this boy, even before therapy, could be considered as quite mild, according to standards by some American therapists; after therapy, his fluent was almost flawless, though by close examination, there were something in the tone, eye contact, and gestures, that were unnatural.

But what worth my writing of this video segment is that, this boy, Kai Zhou, with a fluency level superceding many stutterers I have seen in America, talked with so much emotion about the life being a stutterers. I did not listen to every word, but I did hear that one of his teachers treated him really badly. And he was determined to pursue fluency. Not any stutter, nothing but fluency.

I was jealousy of the young boys and girls I have seen here, in NSA conference and in the camp. At least they have loving parents and teachers. And they could be accepted if they stutter, even in public. I hope I could have that chance, then I would not lose a decade to get this fluency.

Now I have the fluency I deadly desired. At a great cost that I will never know the exact number. My life and me have been changed.

Finally I got to know that, fluency is not the only goal of life. However, put me back to the time as an adolescence, I would still sacrifice everything to get this fluency.

I worked so hard… I guess this is the feeling most stutterers, who have achieved great improvement in fluency would’ve feel, and they may give other stutterers this suggestion to work hard, really hard. Or they may even blame others who cannot improve that they have not worked hard enough.

Well, I don’t like to say so, but I do have seen people who are not working as hard as I did, and there is a good reason that, in America, having stuttering is not an issue as big as that in China, and stutterers don’t need to take the “sink or swim” test in the real life.

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