A paraphrase of Joseph Sheehan's "Message to a Stutterer"

(paraphraser unknown)

A Message to Children Who Stutter

When we stutter, people often give us suggestions. They say, "Relax!", "Think about what you are going to say!", "Slow down!"

The reason this advice doesn't always help, is that when we do these things, we wind up trying to hide our stuttering. This makes us feel like a phony inside.

When we stutter, we have two choices:

  1. We can go ahead and talk, knowing that we are going to stutter,
  2. Or we can decide not to talk at all.
Of course, people want us to talk without stuttering. What they don't always understand is that before we can do that, we have to talk with stuttering. We have to learn to talk in spite of stuttering.

Remember, stuttering doesn't really hurt us when we do it. It only hurts when people treat us different because of it. Even if we didn't stutter, it would still hurt if people treated us different. There's nothing to be ashamed of when we stutter, and there's nothing to be proud of when we're fluent.

How we stutter is what really matters. We can either stutter in a way that is hard and struggling, or we can stutter easily. If we keep on stuttering easily, we might quit stuttering someday! Or we might still stutter sometimes. Either way, we will be taking it easy, and enjoying ourselves....so, everything will be OK!

So the next time someone gives you advice on how to talk, tell them "I'm stuttering as easily as I can right now!" In other words, "Thanks anyway, but I can take care of this myself!"

added July 10, 1998