|About the presenter: Andy Floyd is a person who stutters. He earned his MA in Speech-Language Pathology from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 1999. He is an elementary school-based clinician outside of Denver, Colorado who also has a private practice focusing on kids and adults who stutter. Andy has presented at several NSA conventions and a Friends convention. He is a presenter on stuttering at the Go West conference in western Colorado this fall. Andy is married to another SLP, Jennifer, and they have three children: Aidan (6), Audrey (3) and Julia (5 months).|
The last time I was a teenager was 14 years ago, but I still remember the overriding emotions of that time and can picture some of the more unforgettable moments. From the time I started high school to the beginning of college, I wanted to be one thing...normal.
Just some of the ingenious methods I tried to pull off talking "normal" - and this was with no formal training mind you, just things my teenage mind was coming up with on the fly: substituting easier words to say for those I blocked on, talking around words that I feared I would block on (I came to find out that's called "circumlocution"), getting my sentences kick-started by first saying "um" or "ah" several times before diving headfirst into my first real word, scanning ahead in my brain to the next sentence I was going to say to see if there was a feared word in there and, if so, then either substitute it, circumlocute it, change up the entire sentence or just stop talking all together. One that I thought was most effective, at the time, was avoiding a situation where I thought I would need to talk. That way, my anxiety, fear, panic, sweating, chills, etc. would dissipate because I wouldn't have to open my mouth and maybe stutter. I remember looking around at all the "normal" teens around me and thinking how much I wanted to be like them -to be able to talk without fear and all the other emotional garbage that went with it. To be able to say your name for a substitute teacher, a coach, a potential friend or an interesting girl without dreading that moment and sounding like a complete idiot (or so I thought at the time). To tell a joke and be verbally funny -able to show off my wit, intelligence, my real personality that was right below the surface wanting to come out. To just say what I wanted to say when I wanted to say it. <,p> All that -and now I look back on the last 14 years of my life: Giving presentations in front of hundreds of people, proposing to my bride-to-be, the marriage vows, talking on the phone several times a day, being a speech-language pathologist and helping kids and adults with various speech disorders - including stuttering. Do I still stutter? Did I find some miracle cure - some pink pill that took my stuttering away? No pills here - still stuttering, but not like I used to. After going through some excellent speech therapy that lasted about 2 years, I learned some good tools that I could pull out and use when I needed them. The near daily successes bred confidence in my speaking ability and here I am. If I stutter, I choose to either educate the person I was talking with about stuttering or just let it go. Is there some shame and/or embarrassment still there -oh yeah, on those really tough days when nothing is coming out right and I find myself reverting to a couple of those avoidance tricks I learned as a teen - some of the emotions come flooding back. I even get that spine-chill every now and then. But, when I'm about to go out in front of 10, 20, 150 people to give a talk about treating stuttering, I find myself thinking about the speech, about WHAT I'm going to say instead of the fear and HOW I'm going to say it, HOW I'll sound to all these speech pathologists. Now that's some progress for someone who wouldn't give an oral presentation in front of 16 people in college.
What I'm trying to stress to any teen who stutters reading this is that you can do and become anything you want. Try to connect with others who stutter - via the National Stuttering Association or Friends - who have gone or are going through the same thing you are. Good luck and feel free to contact me if you'd like to hear from a guy who's been there, done that.
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