|About the presenter: Joe Klein Ph.D. is a person who stutters and an assistant professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders at The College of St. Rose in Albany, NY. Joe supervises therapy for people who stutter and teaches classes in fluency disorders. Joe has presented nationally at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Friends: The Association of Young People who Stutter, and The National Stuttering Association conventions. He has also published articles in Contemporary Issues in Communication Sciences and Disorders, The Journal of Fluency Disorders, and The Journal of Stuttering Therapy, Advocacy, and Research. Joe lives in Albany, NY with his wife, Holly, and two children, Zachary and Greta.|
I'm not one for giving advice - my experience is mine alone. But I have learned some things along the journey that I would like to share. First, and most importantly, life is NOT worth walking alone. The first line of The Road Less Traveled (Peck, 1978; p. 15) is simple: "Life is difficult." It's much too difficult to try to make the journey on your own. Find a support group, whether it is the National Stuttering Association, Friends of Young People who Stutter, or perhaps a self-help/support organization that has nothing to do with stuttering, but find a group where you can share your feelings openly and honestly. Also, you must have someone, whether it is a best friend, parent, someone who can talk to about anything and everything. If there is a speech therapist who knows a great deal about stuttering, the relationship that you have with him or her can be life-altering (mine certainly was).
Another bit of wisdom that I have gained is related to the first: Take chances. Just going to a support group takes courage. Being incredibly, completely honest about your stuttering takes courage. Finding a great speech therapist and going to your first therapy session takes courage. It is all worth it. But there are more chances to be taken. Get a part-time job, join the speech team, make a new friend, ask someone on a date, ask someone for something you want. In the end, I was changed by what I did, not by what I talked about or wished for.
Finally, and this is related to the second bit of wisdom, life is a journey. There is no one way to do something, and for those of us who are not currently soldiers, what we are doing is probably not a matter of life or death (to say the least). Yet I always felt as though I couldn't stutter and I couldn't make a mistake, even while I was ordering a cheeseburger at McDonalds. I still stutter -- some days mildly, and some days severely, with most days somewhere in between. But I have become (I believe) an excellent communicator, and have outstanding teaching evaluations from both faculty, administrators, and students as quantitative evidence, and a great relationship with my wife and family as the more important qualitative evidence.
Once I started taking my stuttering less seriously, great things began to happen. Therapy is not just the one hour a week. Therapy can be anytime and anywhere. Play, experiment, and laugh about your speech and yourself. Great things will and do happen.
Peck, M. S. (1978). The road less traveled. New York: Simon and Schuster.
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