"For Those Who Are Sick of Being Spoken For..."

by Diana, written when she was age 13

I am sure that I am not alone, but it often seems as though I am. For most people, a "simple" problem like stuttering seems irrelevant, stupid, even. How can it be a problem to talk? many people wonder. But my speech has restricted my social growth in ways that are frustrating and quite embarrassing.

I think that my problem began when I was about 8 years old or so. I have always been very intelligent, and my mind works very fast. As a result, when I try to talk, my words can't catch up with my brain and I stumble over the words. Recently, it has gotten to the point where I just CAN'T TALK in many instances. This may seem strange, but I simply cannot get the words out. They just stick in my mind and I can't pronounce them. This is especially hard when I try to read aloud. I sit there with my mouth open and don't say a word. I can read the words and pronounce them in my mind, which is sort of strange, though. Some beginnings of words are easier than others. For instance, words that begin in "L"s or "A"s are easier for me to say than, say, "M"s and "T"s. When I come across a word reading aloud that begins in an "M", I just sit there stupidly and try to utter the word. Needless to say, this can be very embarrassing at times.

One thing that I should mention is that I also talk very fast. When I visit my grandmother, she always becomes annoyed because I talk so fast at times that she cannot understand me. She doesn't understand my frustration when she says, "Articulate your words! It can't be as hard as you make it out to be." Little does she know that I have no control over how I talk.

At school, I am pretty quiet. I figure that it is better to keep silent when around other kids than try to talk.

Well, I guess that pretty much sums up my problem. If anyone else out there has a problem similar to mine, post it on this web page and I will check up on it!

added March 18, 1997

A lot can happen in a year: an update

by Diana - age 14

A lot can happen in a year. That's about how long it has been since I submitted something for the Stuttering Homepage. When I last described my situation on the topic of stuttering, I came across as the type of person who has lost hope on ever changing the problems being encountered at that time or in the future. I recall the phrase "I have no control over the way that I talk" from last year. Perhaps I thought that because I had never intently tried to change the way that I communicated.

After that bit of philosophy, you must think that my problems are completely over and that my speech is now perfect. Unfortunately, my problems are far from over. Often times I do stutter when I try to talk; this is especially true when speaking to people my own age. It's annoying, but it's also a fact of life. The thing that HAS changed, however is my opinion on the subject. Instead of shrinking back when being spoken to, I try to calmly keep up my end of the conversation, preparing what I'm going to say in my mind. To other teenage stutterers, I suggest using a lot of facial expressions and gestures-people tend to focus on what you mean rather than on what you actually say.:)

If you are another stutterer (or speech-impaired person) out there who has an interesting or even humerous view on this topic, I will gladly accept any email from you! Your age isn't an issue- this isn't something that always changes with time.

added with permission, January 9, 1998