About the presenter: Russ Hicks has stuttered significantly all his life. He lives in Dallas, Texas, and joined the National Stuttering Association in 1985 and Toastmasters in 1988. He has had great success in Toastmasters, winning the Southwestern United States Regional Humorous Speech Contest in 1996, and is currently a DTM, a Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest rank in Toastmasters International. He founded the Callier Communicators Toastmasters Club in Dallas, the first Toastmasters club in the world devoted exclusively to people who stutter. He is a past president of the Dallas Chapter of the NSA. Russ was the NSA national Member of the Year in 2000 and served as a webmaster for the national NSA website. He has a personal home page at www.russhicks.com.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2009.

Acceptance is NOT Giving Up!

by Russ Hicks
from Texas, USA

You stutter. Big deal. So do I. "Big deal" you say? Yeah, it certainly can be, no doubt about it. And if you're more than about ten years old, chances are you'll stutter for the rest of your life. But it does NOT have to ruin your life. Stuttering can be a difficult card to be dealt in life, but that card IS playable, sometimes very well. The first thing you have to do is to develop a game plan. And this game plan should be based on truths, not horrible nightmares. So let's get started...

Here are some things you might LIKE to do...

  1. Scream and cry. Wailing and gnashing of teeth makes good theater. It won't do you any good, of course, but if you do it well enough, some people may feel sorry for you. But that's not the way you want to live your life, is it? Not me.

  2. Deny it. But again that's no good. Denying it will cause you more problems than stuttering in the long run.

  3. You can pray for a miracle, that someone is going to find that magic pink pill and you'll wake up some morning and your stuttering will be gone. Not gonna happen, and you know it. At least not in our lifetime.
Okay, now here are some things you SHOULD do ...
  1. Accept it. I know this is hard, but it doesn't have to be nearly as bad as you think. The worst case scenario isn't going to happen - unless you let it. YOU control your own destiny, no one else.

  2. Get speech therapy from qualified speech-language pathologists if they are available to you. In the United States, go to http://www.stutteringspecialists.org/ and locate one in your area. If you are not in the US, you may be able to find someone by checking the "Foreign (non USA) Resource/Referral List from the Stuttering Foundation - http://www.stutteringhelp.org/Default.aspx?tabid=207

  3. Join a support group. There are many all around the world (check http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/support.html and http://www.stutterISA.org/). Meeting with other people who stutter face-to-face in a positive atmosphere is an amazing experience.

  4. Learn all you can about stuttering. There are many good books and videos about how to effectively deal with stuttering. Some good sources in English include...
    • The Stuttering Foundation of America at http://www.stutteringhelp.org/
    • The Stuttering Home Page at http://www.StutteringHomePage.com/
    • The British Stammering Association at http://www.stammering.org/
    • The National Stuttering Associaion (USA) at http://www.westutter.org/
    • Check http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/nonenglish.html for some information available in some other languages.
    ... and BEWARE of the sites that offer quick fixes or quote amazing success statistics. There are a LOT of charlatans out there!

  5. Join one or more internet discussion groups. Sharing your story with other people who stutter is extremely eye-opening. Check

    ... for a list of several groups and check with the support organization in your own country for more!

  6. Plan on attending a national conference if one is available in your country. It will absolutely change your life!

  7. Join Toastmasters. Impossible? Of course not! See my ISAD paper written in 1999 (ten years ago!) at ...


    ... for more information on this subject. Toastmasters is an international organization. Check to see if there is a chapter near you (http://reports.toastmasters.org/findaclub/).

I know you've spent 90% of your mental energy in your entire life worrying about your stuttering. People who've never stuttered have no clue about this. That 90% is a very conservative number. It may be like 95% or higher. It's the first thing you think about when you wake up every morning and the last thing you think about when you go to bed every night. Been there, done that. And it's no fun.

HOWEVER... we've been worrying about the wrong thing! No kidding! As hard as it is to believe, people really don't care about stuttering disfluencies, but they DO care about effective communication. Fluency and communication are two different concepts! You should be concentrating on being a more effective communicator, not trying to be perfectly fluent. The primary objective of good speech therapy should be to improve your communication ability, not to simply try and make you fluent. And when you can communicate well, the world is your oyster! If you stutter and can be an effective communicator, you can do anything you want. Doctors, lawyers, merchants, (and no doubt thieves and candlestick makers) who stutter lead successful lives. (Thieves may be an exception there...)

The trick to this whole idea of acceptance is to FACE that fact and then DO SOMETHING about it. Without taking action, all your worries will be for naught. But when you accept something and then take action to do something about it, that's where you can turn your dreams into reality! Don't give up. DO SOMETHING!

Good luck!

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the author before October 22, 2009.

DATE SUBMITTED: August 25, 2009
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