About the presenter: Stacey Fitzenrider resides in Seattle with her husband, Andy (who also stutters), and their six year old daughter, Ava. The Fitzenriders are long time members and supporters of the National Stuttering Association and FRIENDS. Stacey enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Living in Seattle her whole life, she loves all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2010.

What You See Is What You Get

by Stacey Fitzenrider
from Washington, USA

Listen to Stacey's Podcast by hitting the above.

Everyone has a story.... What an honor it was to share mine on "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories." I was scared at first. Twelve years ago I would have had a hard time taping myself; let alone do a podcast on the world wide web!

"What You See Is What You Get" isn't just the title of my podcast. Those are words that I strive to believe and live by every day. I am a mother, wife, daughter and friend, who happens to stutter.

I have been one of the lucky ones, in that I was rarely the target of ridicule, rejection and teasing. Surrounded by understanding and patient family and friends, my stuttering has mostly been a "non-issue" in my outside persona. But, inside my fears were choking me up more than my stuttering ever could.

People talk about an "a-ha" moment, where your life changes directions. It leads you down a different path and you find a certain serenity. My "a-ha" moment was when I was turning 30. I was being smothered by my negative self worth. I knew I had to change how I felt about myself before I could change anything else. I had been through numerous years of speech therapies that taught me techniques. But, those techniques didn't do me a lot of good being weighed down by all of the other things I had created within myself. The many bricks I had built to hide and avoid talking had created a wall of fear, sadness, pain, anxiety and desperation.

A three-week intensive program, the Successful Stuttering Management Program (SSMP), literally saved me. It saved me from a life of hiding and shame. It was time to face my stuttering and all of the other issues I had created. I went into it without wanting to become fluent, but rather just being able to LIVE life. Why did this therapy program help me so much? It taught me that fluency is not the goal. I learned useful techniques, but the most important thing I did was change my attitude. Some days are better than others. I'm okay with that. Life is not always easy, stuttering or not.

A major turning point for me was when I stopped concerning myself with what people thought of me. When I became more comfortable and accepting of my stuttering, I finally realized that most people are quite accepting and willing to listen.

My stuttering has been a blessing and a curse. I won't say I love it, but I can't say I hate it either. It has opened up so many opportunities to meet people and travel to places that I wouldn't have experienced. The glass is truly half full.

Like Seattle weather, my stuttering can be unpredictable and change quickly. The key is to weather the storms. There can't be a rainbow without the sun and the rain.

People fear what they don't understand. If you stutter, consider talking and educating people about it. Knowledge is power. We can teach people to be more compassionate, patient and understanding.

Thanks to forums like "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories," this ISAD on-line conference, social networks and support groups, we can share our stories.

Everyone has a story...

What's yours?

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the author before October 22, 2010.

Submitted: August 24, 2010
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