|About the presenter: Lesley Kodom-Baah is twenty years old from London, England. Lesley is presently in college studying towards a BA degree in Sociology. She has stuttered from the time she could talk which was around three years of age. Lesley has been a covert stutterer from the age of twelve and finally made the decision to try and break the habits of hiding in November of 2009. It is still a struggle being open about her stuttering but she is hopeful for the future that big changes will come.|
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I am twenty years old from London, England. I come from of family of stutterers, both my parents, my brother and I all stutter. The fact that this was in my genes was comforting to me in some way. I always make a little joke about it how I had no chance of escaping stuttering!
As a person who stutters, I've had many ups and downs since childhood. I come from a broken home and had a disruptive life since age four. Both my parents died before I was 15 and I have been in and out of foster care since age five.
I recently found out that I was born by caesarean section because my mother had an entopic pregnancy. To some people the details of birth are totally irrelevant, but for me, because my parents are not around to tell me things like this, it has come as a revelation. I am the type of person who analyses everything, so when I found out about my dramatic birth, many questions came rushing to me. Did my traumatic arrival contribute to my stuttering? M turbulent childhood has definitely affected my stutter and my self-esteem. One of the ways that I dealt with this was to hide my stutter, which I started doing when I was twelve.
As a covert stutterer, I have used every trick in the book to hide my stutter from the world. All the hiding was very embarrassing, debilitating and made me feel worthless.
After a lifetime of hiding I decided in November 2009 that I needed to change my life and work on my speech. I started listening to an American online radio show called Stutter Talk and found many videos on You Tube about people who stutter making video blogs. The one thing that really stood out to me was that these people were talking about acceptance and stuttering openly, which went against everything that I knew. Nevertheless, this openness to stuttering finally gave me permission to accept my speech and myself.
I started adopting the speech tools that I was learning like voluntary stuttering and advertising. I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It was the most liberating thing that has happened in my life.
One of the hardest things as a person who stutters is breaking old habits, and my biggest problem is letting life get in the way and not making working on my stuttering a priority. My mind is erratic and easily distracted, and this makes it difficult for me to focus on anything at one time especially stressful things, like working on myself. It seems like when I think about something stressful my brain switches off and collapses. I can reboot it for a period, but then I get easily distracted and lose track. This embodies my life from stuttering to also the way I write my university assignments. I get stuck and blocked in a lot of things in my life just like I do when I am stuttering.
Even though I am forever grateful for Stutter Talk and You Tube and proud of my achievements with my speech, I still battle my demons, and not just the stuttering demon. All my life I have suffered from low self-esteem and confidence. I have often wondered whether this has been an outcome of stuttering or my troubled childhood. I am endlessly digging and analysing for the truth about who I am, and what my purpose is on earth and in life.
Today I am in a different place from a year ago. I still struggle with my speech and sometimes slip back into old ways of avoiding and hiding. But I feel supported now that I have the support of the on-line stuttering community I found. This community has led me to opportunities that I would never I had before.
I most recently had the chance to be featured on my friend Pam's online radio show aimed at women who stutter. This was an amazing experience and was very therapeutic. Although I found it difficult to listen to at first, with some encouragement from Pam I was pleasantly surprised with the interview and the lovely comments that people made. I encourage people to get involved in the self-help community and to relieve the stress of feeling alone.