Margaret Witbeck

I have stuttered for most of my life. I remember that in grade school, 
I worked with a speech specialist during class time because I had 
trouble saying my "r"s or was it "are"s? I remember being conscious of 
my fears and apprehension in junior high school (grades 7-9). My 
anxiety kept me from asking questions and participating in school. 
That might be a reason why I was labeled as being "shy" or "reserved".

The degree of my stuttering is maybe not "stuttering", but more of a 
block before I actually start to say the word. I don't think this is 
actually stuttering, but could be a part of the definition. It 
definately prevents me from communicating effectively what I want to 
say. I have talked to many people, and have been surprised to learn 
that they are not aware that I stutter. From what I can tell, they see 
it more as I'm thinking of a word to say that is more appropriate. 
When in reality I know the word I want to say, I just can't because 
it's blocked.

It used to be I had difficulty with words that begin with vowels, but 
over the last few years, it has become general. And lately, I have had 
difficulty saying my name (which I've read is a common difficulty for 
PWS). I've been working on confronting my fears and as part of this, I 
have been letting people know that I stutter. This has helped me to 
explain to people why I can't say my name, and then I have either 
spelled out my name or I can by that time say it. Unfortunately I 
still have to work on even that since my first name starts with an "M" 
(em) which often caused me to pause while trying to "get it out".

I have read a few books, and have read the pamphlets from the National 
Stuttering Foundation, and it has helped my understanding, but the 
main key is that I have to work through this (with or without help 
from others). I have been thinking of seeing a therapist, but I cannot 
afford it at this time, and so I will continue to read on my own, and 
face life. There is no shortcut through this, so I continue.

I have been able to see positive changes in all aspects of my life. My 
boss and supervisor know that I stutter, and I often "advertise" or 
tell people that I stutter. I find that it does help to relieve my 
personal stress, tension, and anxiety. It is also helpful because it 
then helps to educate others. When I told my boss, he asked me 
questions. He is very understanding and empathetic. He did say that he 
had never noticed me to stutter.

It has been mentioned that it helps to have humor. I've had a variety 
of responses from people when they ask my name and I either preface 
with "I stutter", then say it or major pause while trying to say my 
name. A few responses to the 2nd have been "oh, you've forgotten your 
own name" at which time I was able to laugh, relax, tell him I 
stutter, and then say it. My experience has been, when I tell the 
person(s) I stutter, it lessens my anxiety largely bacause I know I'm 
not hiding part of myself from them and the person seems patient 
because they can sense the difficulty.

Margaret Witbeck