About the presenter: Scott Palasik, PhD, CCC-SLP, graduated from Bowling Green State University with his PhD (specializing in Fluency disorders) and completed both his BS and MS from Syracuse University in Communication Disorders. In between his MS and PhD, Scott spent seven years around Chicago as a Speech-Language Pathologist providing services to children and adults in schools and nursing facilities. Currently he is an Assistant Professor at the University of Akron. He's published research, teaches Stuttering and TBI, presented at ASHA and state conferences, and is developing the MASS Stuttering Treatment Approach.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2012.

The Cost of Courage is the Freedom to Speak

by Scott Palasik
from Ohio, USA

INSTRUCTIONS: Listen to the audio and follow the pictures below. Then read the text at the end of the pictures. Be patient while the audio loads

As you walk onto the stage, hundreds of people (mostly people you don't know) sit in silence. They're waiting in anticipation for a sound (anything verbal). They yearn for words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs to sum up the meaning of recovery or fluency freedom. All eyes fall on you, all breathing seems to flow to the rate of your heart beat (a hundred miles per hour, at least). Then you realize, you are not alone in this journey. You are among friends, colleagues, and fellow people who stutter. You sympathize and empathize in suffering and pain, stuttering and struggle (of any kind, not just stuttering). You realize you were never alone, you just had to do the hard work. . . . Open your mouth, and be heard.

When Judy Kuster asked me if I had wanted to be part of a panel of brave individuals to tell our stories of recovery, I had no words to express my gratitude (humbled appreciation to be perfectly honest). I further thought, "what do I know about recovery, I still stutter?" However, by listening to my fellow panel members speak and by observing my own chosen path I continue to walk through this journey of life (mixed with stuttered and nonstuttered moments), I realized what recovery meant to me. It meant to just be, me

. To be me. Not the me I thought others wanted to see. Certainly not the me hiding behind fears of the stuttering gods in order to chase the fluency gods all over the world. To be me it meant to accept the me who walked through life with stuttering in one hand and fluency in the other. A me living as a united team (with stuttering, fluency, and ALL thoughts related to them), instead of pitted enemies fighting for supreme ruling in a verbal world (besides, who would win this war anyway?).

Not so long ago I fought stuttering with a veracious appetite, driven by nothing more than not wanting to face reality. The reality was I CAN stutter and I don't always stutter. Sounds obvious, yet my cognitive behaviors wanted to keep up the battle for freedom, without knowing what 'freedom' meant (basically imagine driving in a foreign country or new city without a GPS or destination). However freedom for me doesn't mean fighting stuttering. It doesn't even mean being fluent. Freedom simply means summoning the courage to speak, and then allowing the fluent moments and stuttering moments to interweave in a symphony of, well, ME

. From being on this panel, my peers have taught me that at the end of the day we have only ourselves to face in the mirror. If we can look that beautifully bright person in the eyes and say, "I've done what I could today, I was what I know I CAN be today, and I spoke the words I wanted to say," then we are developing courage to find the freedom to speak on the road to discovery and recovery.

In a final note, I now believe whatever roads (mental and external behaviors alike) we choose as individuals CAN be determined by the simple expression, "I am being me in this moment."

With much compassion and kindness, Scott.

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the author before October 22, 2012.

SUBMITTED: August 19, 2012
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