Speaking Tongues: Overcoming my Speech Impediment

In society we know that the normal expectation for a person to be successful in this world is to be able to communicate effectively. Yet some people have a hard time saying their name and even talking to a loved one on the phone. Stuttering is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is interrupted by certain sounds and syllables. It was once thought that the cause of stuttering was from having anxiety but evidence has found that other factors can cause this disorder. Stuttering tends to run in families, research says that people who stutter process language and speech in a whole different area of the brain then someone who does not stutter. Stuttering can affect people of all ages, it begins often in children between the ages 2–6 when learning language skills. Relatively 5–10 percent of children will stutter for some period in their life, lasting from a few weeks to several years. There is not instant cure for stuttering but there are ways to help manage it. Techniques such as speech therapy, electronic devices, and prescribed drugs that can help lessen the stuttering and progress toward fluency. Nonetheless there are people who have stuttered for many years and improve with time, why some people recover is still unclear. When going through life limiting oneself to speaking certain words and keeping you from saying what you really want to say in fear of sounding troubled in your words is not easy on a 7 year old. As time went on, getting older and progressing through life I realized that this was something that needed to be resolved and not an obstacle in my life which lead me to pursue in getting my voice heard. The main objective of this photo essay is to capture the struggles of having a stuttering disorder and how it can affect a person’s self- esteem and show the real importance of the freedom to speak your mind.

In this photo there is a group of friends having a good time; this is what most people would see when looking at this. When stuttering became something that was harder to hide in my life it made me think of myself as an outsider. I thought so much about my disorder and the fear of being around people in public that I would see pictures of my friends and myself as a group of people who knew of my disorder and were very comfortable with it . Yet at times I saw it as a group non-stutterers interacting with a stutterer making me feel like the odd one out. I was envious of my friends who could talk freely and have no trouble saying what they wanted to say, and it consumed so much of me that I saw myself differently from them in a negative way.

This picture depicts a scene that I know all too well. When I stuttered, weird looks were all I can see in the process of trying to get a simple sentence out. As I would try to talk and get whatever I meant to say out loud I could see the confused and ‘what the heck’ faces slowly appear on the faces that surrounded me that heard my robot like language. I would stutter and my brain would be telling me “Just stop! You’re embarrassing yourself”, and yet my mouth just continued on like a broken record. This really shows the embarrassment that I faced when stuttering became a common thing for me when talking to people.

The picture is meant to depict the feeling of a long period of my life that stuttering made me go through. Not being able to say what I wanted to say in fear of showing how bad my stuttering felt like my voice could not be heard. After a while I came to a routine that I would not talk unless I absolutely needed to. I became someone who was the total opposite of who I really was, an outgoing talkative girl in fear of embarrassing myself to the people around me. It’s a feeling that I would never wish upon anyone. I was not confident talking to people unless they were very close friends and family who understood the way I talked and had become used to it. I would limit myself to say certain words and never fully be able to say what I truly wanted to say.

This photo represents my first step into taking my voice back, Speech therapy. I kept it a secret from everyone I knew in high school. I would get pulled out from electives every month and people would ask why would leave so much and I came up with any excuse that I could. Certain techniques that I’m sure kindergartens were learning is what I had to do at times. The little things that mattered were certainly important in working on someone’s speech. Although at times it would get annoying and I would feel dumbed down during the process at certain moments Speech Therapy really helped me deal with my stuttering and taught me different ways to cope with it.

To be able to speak clearly, a script is used as a technique to speak on the phone. Talking on the phone was something I hated with a passion. It was something I feared more than talking in front of people. You would think it would be easier to talk into a device since no one looks at you when talking on the phone, yet talking on the phone for me, the person on the other line could barely understand a word I said. I soon developed a this technique to communicate better and I still do this today.

“Have you ever had a dream like this?” Credit: YouTube

This video shows a great example of a way a person tries to hide their stuttering. Whenever a person stutters they try to the best of their ability to hide it, which makes it even worse. You try to use simpler words to let the words flow but sometimes not as well as you think. This shows a clear look into the idea that a person who stutter’s their brain is thinking faster then what they mouth can keep up with leading to a whole jumbled scattered mess of words coming out.You know what you are trying to say but what comes out of your mouth is gibberish.

Credit: Stuttering Foundation

In this photo it presents a well — known actress that struggled with stuttering. Marilyn Monroe dealt with stuttering her whole life, though she learned various ways to hide her speech impediment from the public. In Marilyn’s last movie the Misfits, her stuttering became very prominent and hard to hide due to stress of both her professional and personal life. This photo signifies that a person who has this communication disorder can be successful in life and learn to cope with it over time.

The picture presented here shows something that I feared greatly growing up. I remember always dreading to do a speech in front of the class and walking up to that podium and hoping that my mouth could bring the words that I wanted to say out without sounding robotic. There are countless times where I would walk away from the podium embarrassed or relieved of what had just happened. Embarrassed that no everyone knew my speech was not like theirs, relieved that it was over or that I actually sounded like a normal person. This picture means a lot to me because over time I got over the fear of talking in front of people and “the podium” was not so frightening to me anymore. It’s a symbol that I’ve progressed with the fear of not letting my stuttering get the best of me.

Although people have this perception that stuttering is a psychological asset or due to stress and anxiety. Society views it as something that is not to be very concerned about; this is a larger misconception that people have. In actuality stuttering can cause emotional stress and can have drastic effects on a person if not taken seriously. It’s a disorder that is very common to have and is not talked about and has awareness as other disorders. With 3 million Americans experiencing this struggle from young children to mature adults this speech impediment is something to be seen as equal to any other disorder because it results in the same emotional distress to not only the person who has it but the people who are surrounded by it. I have struggled most of my life with stuttering and till this very day I still have trouble with it, some days better than others. It has made me feel so low about myself and has really made me appreciate the ability to speak my mind.My fear of stuttering is something I still have but it is not as strong as it once was. While this journey is very rare for people to have experience I’m sure many people can relate to the feeling of being put down by something you could not control. Although my speech has improved so much compared to the past I would not trade all those years of pain, embarrassment and struggle that taught me to be okay with myself. My stuttering sculpted me to the person I am today.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of to have a stutter” — Emily Blunt