Am I Worthy?

bradberryAbout the author:  Annie Bradberry has worked in the nonprofit sector for 23 years and feels fortunate to be able to serve, be it the city she lives in or the stuttering community. Annie first found support at the age of 19 and has been a member of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) for nearly 37 years, attending their first annual conference in 1984. She has served as chapter leader, board member and Executive Director (1993-2003). Annie has represented as Consumer Liaison; ASHA’s Specialty Board on Fluency Disorders and now serving her second term as a board member for the International Stuttering Association. She has attended international stuttering conferences in Belgium, Iceland, Norway, France, and England. Today Annie is Executive Director of a national nonprofit, and stays connected speaking at universities, presenting workshops at NSA annual conferences and as a Stutter Social Host. Annie resides in Southern California and is 57 years old.

Definition – Worthy: good and deserving respect, praise, or attention: having enough good qualities to be considered important, useful, etc.

In recent years I have wondered about the meaning of the word “worthy”. Am I?

I’ve grown up in the stuttering community, involved my entire adult life. Beginning at the age of 19, today I am 57 and looked upon as an “oldie” and often asked questions on how did I get to feel the way I do? How do I seem so positive? What have I done? What is my story?

It is at these times that I find myself holding back wondering if I am worthy. Do I have a story to tell? You see mine is not filled with sadness. Yes, I have been fired from a job. Yes, I’ve heard “are you singing” on the other side of the phone and then the click followed by the silence. I’ve felt the frustration, anger, and self-disgust that follows. I’ve had people walk away. I didn’t use the phone outside of my family or my best friend until I was 21… and I’ve walked out of a store without what I came for full of shame. I confess once I wrote down on paper where I wanted to go and handed it to a taxi driver instead of speaking. I’ve hated it. I’ve chosen silence and I’ve asked “why?”

Yet still when asked to share my story today feelings of unworthiness again creep in. I often feel like I don’t belong anymore. I’ve been looking at these feelings trying to understand myself. Why do I question the worthiness of my story and how does this pertain to providing you with a take away that will enlighten or inspire?

Sharing these feelings of not being worthy with a friend, I was asked “Who told you – you were not worthy? Hearing myself answer, I said, “I did.”

I realize that I have been passing judgment on myself because I’ve been comparing myself to others who openly share their story and the pain they were in and often still working through. Their story speaks of hardships and we are immersed by their gripping personal accounts. It’s like reading a really good book, a page turner…you can’t put it down and you wonder about the ending for the main character. Did they make it? Did they survive?!

When I remember, when I chose to share my story, I remember the successes that have occurred after or even because of the negative experience. For me, it is remembering these moments that serve me as reminders of where I’ve been. I realize now this is where I muster up my strength. When at the age of 16 I was fired from my job at Winchell’s Donut shop because my stuttering slowed things down during the busy early morning shift, I remember rushing home humiliated. My dad would look at me and say. “Those people, that situation, cannot define you. What do YOU want to do?” That question stopped me from disheartening self-pity and made me think. I didn’t realize then he was teaching me a very valuable lesson. He was teaching me at an early age that I had a choice as to how I would feel. It was not the reactions of others that would define me, but my reactions to them. I could limit their power over my self-esteem and self-expression. I can feel the emotions now that worked through my body that day. “No one is going to tell me I can’t!” So off I went to apply and get the job at another neighborhood Winchell’s Donut shop. It had nothing to do about liking the job…trust me, even today I can smell the stench of the fried oil and it makes me cringe. My mom would even make me undress in the garage and drop the clothes for the washing. Shortly after, I quit this job, but it was on my terms.

A few years later, when a bank teller mimicked me, and I remember this like it was yesterday, I remembered my dad’s words. Instead of getting angry I asked myself, what do I want to do? What do I want to happen? Realizing there was opportunity in these situations, I knew right then…I didn’t want this to happen to another. I didn’t want the next person who would encounter this person to experience the same humiliating experience. What if that person was just beginning their stuttering journey!? This could set them back and devastate them. I turned the anger into energy and asked to speak to a supervisor. I didn’t complain but said, and I still use this today, “I am certain that your employee didn’t have the intention to make fun of me and I’m hoping that their reaction to my stuttering came from not understanding what was happening, but this cannot happen again. The next person this happens to might not be as strong as me and a situation like this could cause harm. It will hurt.” I remember this day and others like it and how I felt powerful and how I had made the choice for the outcome of that story.

I’m not positive and happy all the time. I struggle and fight myself out of darkness often. For me the key to success is acknowledging the negative situation or thoughts, and what actions I take when I am having negative thoughts or in a negative situation. The ending is not always perfect or even happy, but when it is about my stuttering I try to be the author in writing the ending of that story. Often there are re-writes.

I’ve felt bad when I shared my triumphs instead of my grief when telling my story. When our old stories no longer hold power over us, they can positively guide us. They can empower, energize and even propel us forward. I am a little bit of all my stories, the tough ones, the ones I’d rather forget, the ones that brought tears, the ones that brought silence. Each story…each memory pushes me forward reminding me of my inner strength. I do have a story to share!

I come from love and I realize now that my story needs to be told. It is this love I have to give. It is okay to celebrate this love in my journey. I realize now I was discounting my story because I thought that, without gripping experiences, it was dull and even uninteresting. We learn from our stories and the stories of others. From each we take away a little and carry inside us those moments we relate to. Whether it is living through love or with tenacity, we retrieve these experiences and solutions to help us through our own difficult situations.

We often get caught up in the last difficult situation. We are critical and replay over and over in our minds the situation and the negative outcome. When we remember, we bring all our experiences with us. We can remember the last success rather than a past of negative experiences. We don’t forget. We recognize and remind ourselves of the road traveled, where we have been and how far we have come.

Telling our story is a part of the healing process. What I have learned and realize now is the purpose for telling my story, our story, is about giving ourselves to another. A gripping story allows another to relate, open up, and see by example, resilience. If a story is about thriving despite hardships, it can also help heal. I realize now that telling my story, our story, has purpose. Stories help us heal and help others heal. It tells us that we are not alone.

There is a power in discovering we are not alone and that we are part of a community that listens, cares and understands.

And so now I’ve come to this thought…we have to share our story! Our experiences are the most cherished lessons and memories we have. Filled with sadness, grief and even humor, they prepare and help us, and others, face life’s greatest challenges.

And again I remember my dad’s words; “Those people, or any given situation, cannot define you! What do you want to do?”

How does this provide you with a take away that will enlighten or inspire? I hope you realize your individual value, and that together we are part of something big and powerful. There are hundreds…even thousands of us, and each story told is like a vine growing and entwining, reaching and connecting people all over the world. And even if your story reaches the heart of just one person, that is one person whose life you have helped and perhaps a life you have changed.

I want to share with you a quote from author Brene Brown

“When we can let go of what other people think and our own story, we gain access to our worthiness-the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we are supposed to be, we stand outside our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness-that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging-lives inside of our story.”

Understanding who we are and where we have been, accepting ourselves, realizing we are “lovable” and worthy of love, allows us to love and be loved. When we share our story we foster courage, connection and even change.

I invite you to begin to celebrate yours.

References

Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfections. Center City, MN: Hazelden.

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Comments

Am I Worthy? — 100 Comments

  1. Very smart paper (you sound like someone who has a June 5th birthday!). It’s interesting—I just read David Shapiro’s paper and I was thinking about the issue of stuttering vs. non-stuttering SLPs. Then I read yours and felt like I needed to explore the topic further. Yes, maybe there are some client feelings that stuttering SLPs immediately relate to, but if stuttering has driven that client to sadness (or anger or guilt, etc.) beyond my own, do I really understand them any better than a non-stuttering SLP does? In other words: Am I worthy? As you suggest, that’s a less important question that how my experiences can help this individual. Thanks for the paper.

    • Dale,
      Thank you for taking the time to read my paper and your intriguing response. Your question – Do you, as an SLP who stutters, really understand your clients any better than a non-stuttering SLP does? So many thoughts come to my mind. Yes I do think you do. With that being said I need to express a bit more. Sometimes just being with someone who understands is as important as the tools we are taught and given. I do also believe that a non-stuttering SLP can be as effective and provide excellent therapy but there is something about walking in our shoes. Again…with that being said, you have SLP Charley Adams and Vivian Sisskin who do not stutter. They might not walk in our shoes but they put them on. They have a deep understanding and like you care not just about the techniques but the life of their clients. It is apparently clear.

      and…regarding June 5th, we should celebrate July 5th with clink of a glass in Atlanta

  2. I felt very inspired reading this Annie! You and I have talked a lot about worthiness and how hard it is sometimes to practice what we preach. You are worthy, as is your story. Keep sharing your story whenever you can. You never know whose life is being impacted.
    I agree with you where sometimes we wonder if our story is still relevant. Yes, it is. Someone just starting their journey needs to hear our stories.
    And your mom was a smart woman to make you change your smelly donut clothes in the garage. -Pam

    • Pam,

      Thank you Pam for reading my paper and mostly for accompanying me on my journey.
      A

  3. Annie, thank you for sharing your story. I recently posted a video on YouTube entitled “Talking Without Shame for Persons Who Stutter” (https://youtu.be/Doz1cqjF3hM) where I share two personal experiences and some related thoughts from Dr. Brene Brown’s research on shame. She provides such simple yet liberating insights!

    • Ana,

      Thank you for reading my story. I want to say bravo. Bravo for advocating for your child and bravo for your honesty and candid insights. Your YouTube video is worthy and should be seen by many. Again BRAVO!

  4. What a wonderful message. Yes, you are Worth even if you perceive that your experience is different from others. What you write is absolutely true, that the more we share our stories the more we will connect with other PWS, since we all have different experiences and all are worthy.

    I hope we all take careful note of your statement that “When we share our story we foster courage, connection and even change”. Yes, indeed.

    Thank you.

    • Thank you Hanan…

      I’ve learned first hand from you the importance of telling our story. It has been your bravery and courage that has led me to share and it is an honor to call you my friend.
      A

  5. One’s belief in self worth is often defined by their ability to help others who do not believe in themselves. It sounds like you have a multitude of experiences that have touched the lives of many others. What one believes is darkness, someone else believes is light. Let not a shadow of doubt determine how another will view you.

    • Derek,

      Thank you for your touching words. I’ve been wondering why it has taken me so long to contribute to ISAD and realizing I’m still on this crazy yet wonderful journey with my stuttering.

  6. Annie,
    Such a wonderful story. You have been a light for so many, me included. Thank you, and we need to hear more of your story!
    Joe

    • Hi Joe…

      Thank you…and thank you for taking the time to read my story. The first thing that comes to my mind is that you are a part of my story. When I reflect over the years…the many years… and I see all that you have accomplished and done it makes me even more proud to be a part of this amazing community.

  7. Definition – Worthy: good and deserving respect, praise, or attention: having enough good qualities to be considered important, useful, etc.

    I love that you started this post with the definition of worthy. To me, the definition of this word is subjective because the worth of items, people, or personality traits differ depending on who you ask. For instance, “worthy” things to me might be my car, my family, honesty and kindness. However, others who may not own a car wouldn’t put that on their list of “worthy” items. I believe this crosses over to people as well. Although I personally believe that every human is “worthy” whether they present with a debilitating disability or are maybe not the most upstanding citizen in society. I don’t believe that having a communication disorder such as stuttering decreases anyone’s worthiness. Others, who believe that an individual is not deemed worthy based on whether or not they exemplify society’s image of “beautiful” and “perfect” may lack something within themselves that is causing them to project negative perspectives onto others.

    • Jaime,

      Thank you for reading my story. I agree with you and often when I speak to people…especially young people who stutter who are carrying around a negative experience with them…a negative reaction to their stuttering, taking that experience into every other one they enter… I try to remind them…that most people are kind and supportive and those that are not…well like you say, “they lack something within themselves that is causing them to project negative perspectives”…

      Thank you again for taking the time…
      Annie B.

    • Dear Retz!

      So wonderful to hear from you and you read my paper! Yay!

      Ice cream…yes and if my memory is correct…it is your turn to buy. 🙂

      A

  8. First off, thank you so much for sharing your story. As a graduate student in speech-language pathology, I am currently enrolled in a stuttering course and a counseling pro-seminar, among others. In these courses, we have not only learned about reducing disfluencies and writing diagnostic reports in stuttering. We have not only learned about technical vs. adaptive aspects of therapy in counseling pro-seminar. Rather, we have learned about making people feel worthy and comfortable in who they are, and in their identity; as a person who stutters, or not.
    You are an amazing person to not let the fact that you stutter define you, because it does not. I applaud you that you stand up for all people who stutter and do what you can to educate others on how words and making fun of people is not the way to treat anybody.
    As a future speech-language pathologist, my ultimate goal will never be to simply help a client to reduce their disfluencies (although, this may be just as important for some), but to help them externalize the problem, meaning knowing that the stutter does not define them. I think it is wonderful that you have posted your story on this board to inspire anyone that reads it to accept themselves and take their stories (positive or negative) as a lesson and a way to become empowered. You certainly have inspired me, and I thank you.

    Questions: did you ever receive any speech-language therapy? If so, how did this help you or change any beliefs that you have, positive or negative? When you feel “feelings of unworthiness again creep in,” how do you best deal with it?

    Again, thank you so much!

    Sincerely,

    Danielle B.

    • Danielle,

      So nice for you to write. It sounds like you are studying under someone who truly understands not only stuttering but those of us who stutter. I have had speech therapy since 3rd grade and it was when we moved away from the mechanics of stuttering and to me as a person who stutters…that things changed. It is so good to hear that you are being taught this to be a priority.

      At the age of 22 (i’m 57 now) I attended the Successful Stuttering Management Program (SSMP). It is a 3 1/2 week intensive program created by Dr. Dorvan Breitenfeldt in Cheney Washington. It is through Eastern Washington University and it continues today. It also serves as a training program for graduate students. They take 10 stutters a year and each is paired with two clinician students. Would you believe I am still in contact with one of them and with many who have gone through the program today! This program changed my life and even today I practice not just the tools/techniques but the attitude adjustment that accompanies the program.

      For the 1st half of the program there are no techniques but instead we look deeply at our stuttering. By the end of this part I had a list of 24 secondaries I did to hide my stuttering. I remember calling home and speaking to my mom. She later told me she cried when she hung up…you see, they stripped me of all the garbage and crutches and she remembers thinking that I sounded so happy yet i stuttered more! What she didn’t realize was that I was stuttering easier…free from all the things I did to not to stutter. It was then, for the remaining time, they introduced tools. The basis is that it is okay to stutter but when possible try to do it as easy as possible. Stop the fight and the tension lessons. For me the key to why it has stayed with me for all these years is that when the tools don’t work, when I have one of those days…I know I still have it in me to work through them. They are moments in time and do not define me anymore. The techniques are very Sheehan/Van Riper. It was a complete shift in the way i thought about my stuttering and myself. I learned to respect my stuttering, understand it and no longer hate it along with stuttering management. This is what made it endure over the year.

      You asked if I was feelings of not being worthy creep in. Just tonight a friend asked me the same. It is a tough answer for me. For me another part of my growth and change in regards to my stuttering was when I realized I had purpose. The anger and frustration began to diminish. So even though I still question my story I realize and have found that younger generations want to know and with this…those feelings go away. Thanks again… Annie B.

  9. Hello, Annie,

    Your message is so helpful. It is one we each need to hear, take to heart, and live. We are good, each of us. Goodness is our essential nature.

    Thank-you for reminding us.

    Ellen-Marie

    • Ellen-Marie,

      Thank you so much for reading my paper. I am honored…

      You are 100% correct. We are each of us good and I am reminded of this daily by the outpouring of support I see and receive through Facebook and other ways we communicate with each other.

      It makes me proud to be who I am and a person who stutters.

      Respectfully,

      Annie B.

  10. Annie,

    This is a wonderful paper. As a student studying to be a speech-language pathologist, it’s inspiring to hear your stories. I must admit, seeing this topic made me believe that your paper would be filled with sad stories. It’s important to know that no matter how one views their stuttering, with grief or with indifference etc., they are still worthy and have a connection to a much larger community of people. Thank you for this fantastic post!

    Lauren

    • Lauren,

      Thank you for taking the time to read and write. I learned a long time ago that the connections are as important as the speech therapy. There is nothing like it. I’ve been very fortunate to be a Stutter Social Host for two years now. It is a secure online Google Hangout for people who stutter. I witness people finding the stuttering community for the first time almost every time time I host and I see immediately the benefits…the change right before my eyes and it is powerful.

      Again, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts…

      Annie B.

  11. Hey Annie,
    I am a graduate student studying Speech Pathology at Appalachian State University. I was/am very inspired by your story. Thank you for sharing it! My question is what are other outlets you have found that have helped you deal with your stuttering?

    Amy

    • Hi Amy,

      My stuttering journey has been a long and very interesting one…one that I am still on even today. My stuttering has evolved over the years…changed. I’ve had difficult times and then long periods of easy stuttering.

      What has remained constant over the years is one common component. Support. Support from my involvement in the stuttering community. As I reflect it is the connections with others who stutter. Being open. Understanding that it is not perfect and even today I’ve recently had a very old secondary show itself. In stead of being scared, frustrated or even angry, I was surprised and a bit amazed. I remember i was hosting Stutter Social, a online secure hangout for people who stutter. I immediately stopped and said to the group of 9 others. Did you see and hear that! They did and I said wow…and we didn’t laugh but humor did exist and we talked about it and I let it go and it has not reoccurred again.

      So to answer your question, no matter the outlet I’ve used or tried it is my involvement in the stuttering community that has helped me and still helps me deal with my stuttering. Going to almost every National Stuttering Association Annual Conference…knowing I am not alone. That is what has helped me the most.

      Thanks again for your question and for reading my paper…

      Annie B.

  12. Annie,

    Beautiful. Just beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I know how much courage this took.

    I especially loved the part about your experience in the bank. How very true – you may have indirectly changed a life.

    Keep on being you. You continue to inspire me.

    Courtney

    • Thank you so much Courtney for reading and for your words.

      As you say to me…you inspire me and I am so proud and in awe of all you are doing and accomplishing

      Love, A

  13. I found this article so encouraging as a future Speech-Language Pathologist. In everything we do, we question if our story is worthy of being told and if any one will want to listen. You story is worthy, and my hope is that you will continue to spread your experiences to encourage others to share theirs. I believe your story can bring hope to those who are afraid to share there story, both within the field of stuttering and elsewhere. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Sara

  14. Hi Annie,

    I absolutely loved your paper! I am currently in my first year of studying speech and language therapy and to hear your experience was truly empowering. I feel your dad’s words “Those people, or any given situation, cannot define you! What do you want to do?”, can be applied to everyone at some point or another; we have all been through a difficult, humiliating or upsetting situation where other people seem the more powerful but after reading your paper I feel so empowered knowing that I can choose how other people’s actions effect me. That we have the power over our reactions. So if I find myself in a situation where I am made to feel less powerful than others, I will think back to this paper and your wise words. Thank you so much, please continue to share your story!

    Millie

    • Millie,

      Thank you. Thank you for reading and for sharing your thoughts. It is hard at times but we do have the power over our reactions. For the longest time I had this question typed up and hanging next to my desk so I could see it all the time. Said by one of my mentors he said to ask myself…Am I being reactive or proactive. I asked myself this when a response to my stuttering had me feeling full of shame or at work and about a situation that had nothing do with my stuttering. It is a process but it is so much easier when we believe in ourselves, are kind to ourselves, and live with open hearts. It is then that we move away from ourselves and can see more clearly the other person…

      I wish you the best,

      Annie B.

  15. Annie,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I really enjoyed reading it! You are worthy and so is your story. I am also a fan of Dr. Brene Brown, she has a lot of good things to say! Thank you for sharing your story and insight!

    -Liz

    • Hi Liz,

      Thanks for sharing and reaching out. You will love to know that two weeks ago I was able to see Brene Brown in person! She was amazing. Funny, real and absolutely amazing. If you can ever see her I highly recommend it. Also…her new book is wonderful if you have not read it. It’s a must!

      Take care and thanks again!

      Annie B.

  16. Hi Annie

    Thank you for sharing your story, I found it really enlightening. Please continue to share it 🙂

    Cassie

    • Thank you Cassie for not only reading my story but for reaching out.

      Truly appreciated…

      Annie B.

  17. Annie,

    Your story is very inspiring. Many of us go through trials and tribulations in our lives, but as humans sometimes we feel as though it is selfish to duel on those instances when others can have it so much worse, or can be suffering on a far greater level. Therefor, we feel our story may not be adequate to share. Your paper made me realize though that every story is important and valued equally. I can not say I have experienced the troubles associated with stuttering, However, I am studying to become an SLP and love learning more in order to help my future clients in any way possible. Your story has showed me the importance of looking back on moments of triumph in our lives and not only the ones of despair. We grow from both and it is important to reflect on both as well. My question for you is if you have any advice for me in helping my clients reach the point of acceptance and self-worth you have achieved? Do you think you just grew into your ah-ha moments over time, or was there a conscious reflection on scenarios that have molded your confidence to share?

    Thanks again for sharing this paper with me, your story is absolutely lovely.

    -Katie

    • Dear Katie,

      Great questions…you’re making me think. 🙂

      You said “as humans sometimes we feel as though it is selfish to duel on those instances when others can have it so much worse, or can be suffering on a far greater level. Therefor, we feel our story may not be adequate to share”….

      This can pertain to our stuttering. I think the advice I would give is to look at each of us as individuals and look at not just how much we stutter but how it impacts our life. I’m a firm believer that you can’t measure how stuttering impacts our life by how much we stutter. We are each different. Getting to know your client and our expectations is important as well as sharing your expectations with us. The plan should be worked out as a team. Stuttering is personal. This is making me think of an in-service I have years ago to a very large school district. I got there early and was told to sit in on their open discussion about their heavy and hard to manage caseloads. There was 75 plus SLP’s in the room. One woman expressed her frustration by saying a young student who was now 17 taking up her time. He was still as severe, stuttering the same amount as he did three years earlier. He was what he was. I sat up straight. Another young woman said…she understood. She had an 11 year old who was an A student, didn’t talk much so he was easy to manage. It really wasn’t necessary to keep him on her caseload. I usually don’t prepare when I give these presentations but for this one I did have note cards. After hearing these two examples I tore them up. Feelings going through my body, I remember this day, I didn’t know where to start so I began asking some questions. What I found was that these two woman loved what they did. What they really were expressing was their own feelings of inadequacy surrounding feelings that they had about thinking they had not made a difference. Through more questions I found out that in fact the student who was 17 did still stutter a lot but instead of looking at the floor and not talking was now getting in trouble in class for talking too much! Together we uncovered a lot more and soon they both realized they had helped their students. Maybe the stuttering – if you counted syllables stuttered was the same. What had changed was their quality of life. By learning about their stuttering they changed the way they felt about themselves, their self-esteem and self-perceptions. These changes would carry them into adulthood.

      My self-confidence came first from my parents. They build my foundation. From there…it was over time. Being open, getting involved in the stuttering community at a young age was crucial. I’ve said this same thing to others who have read and wrote…learning and believing that I was not alone and that it was okay to stutter. That is at the center of my self-confidence.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out.

      The best to you…

      Annie B.

  18. Hi Annie,

    This is a wonderful paper. It is so encouraging to see how you being brave and strong may protect another PWS. Thank you for sharing your story, you are worthy and no one including yourself should tell you otherwise!

    Thank you
    -Sarah

    • Thank you Sarah…

      Submitting a paper comes with being vulnerable for certain and I am getting more comfortable daily.

      I appreciate your words and thank you for reaching out

      Annie B.

  19. Hi Annie,

    Your story is beautiful and moving. I loved reading it! I am a first year graduate student studying Speech Language Pathology and my professor for my fluency disorders course emphasizes that each person has a story to tell and it is our job as SLP to let them tell their story. I believe that everyone’s story is worthy enough to be not only told, but to be heard.
    I like how you wrote, “Telling our story is part of the healing process”. It takes courage to open up and let others hear about events you have experienced thus far in life that have shaped you into the person you are today, but I’m so glad that you showed this bravery because you are an inspiration!
    I love the part you wrote about your dad and how he said, “Those people, that situation, cannot define you. What do YOU want to do?” My question for you is what job did you want to have growing up and did it change over the years? Also, who, would you say, was your strongest support system growing up? As a future SLP what advice could you give me as a clinician to help foster a sense of self-worthiness in my clients?

    Thank you again for sharing your story. It was enlightening to read and I wish you all the best!
    Chrissy

    • Hi Chrissy,

      Your questions went straight to my heart:)

      The job I wanted to have growing up was to be a speech language pathologist who of course would specialize in stuttering. It did change over the years but I’m guessing for reasons different than you might be thinking…

      My stuttering was a lot more severe when I was younger and my way of dealing with it and the stresses associated with school, the presentations…answering questions…etc., was not attending. Skipping school was almost a constant and the real reason I didn’t become an SLP was at first due to the fact that I barely made it out of High School since I hardly went. It was in 12th grade when my English teacher Mrs Goodman saw me outside of her class instead of in my seat and called me in. I sat down and then she brought me up to stand in front of the class. She said…”does everyone know that Annie stutters?” As teenagers do…shoulders shrugged and then she asked “Does anyone care?”. Same response…They didn’t even care if I was standing in front of them. She told me to sit down. This changed my life. I went to my classes from that day on but it was still to late in regards to my grades and getting into a college. So instead I went to work and found that work suited me well and I was successful at a young age even with my stutter…so my dream of being an SLP went on the back burner.

      It was years later as a volunteer and member of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) that I ran in to Vivian Sheehan, a highly respected clinician in the elevator of a state ASHA conference where I was helping out. She asked me about my dreams and we talked in the elevator. She said “Annie, there is going to be something else for you to do where you can help a larger amount of people who stutter. I feel it Annie!” Six months later I was the Associate Director of the NSA and a year later the Executive Director (I served for 10 years). Do I have regrets? Not really. I’ve been very fortunate to be very active in the stuttering community my entire adult life and I believe my purpose as a stutterer is being fulfilled.

      My strongest support system came from home….my parents. I know this can also be the source of frustration for many…where parents don’t understand, getting caught up in their guilt thinking they are the cause of their child’s stuttering…so with this I lead into your last question. How do you instill self-worth into the clients you treat? Engage, experience, talk, and listen. Understand stuttering by learning how it feels to stutter. Go out in public and stutter. Then you can say to your student/client…when your lips get stuck like this or when your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth…I know it feels like….. Get the parents involved. Hard yes…but perhaps asking them about their expectations will open up communication and dialogue. Talk to your clients. Ask them about their stuttering. I think working on our feelings, fears and all the “stuff” we carry with us is as important as the tools we learn.

      Thank you again for these thoughtful questions… I wish you great success~

      Annie B.

      • Thank you Annie for your insight and advice. I enjoyed reading your responses to my questions. I wish you all the best!!

        Chrissy

  20. Hello Annie,
    Thank you so much for sharing you story! It is so inspirational!
    I am currently a student studying speech and language therapy at university, I am in my first year. I think it is amazing how you focus on the positive elements on your story, I feel that when I start to go on placement I will urge the clients I work with to be as positive as you are!
    I am also very inspired by what your dad said to you, I feel that I may use this quote a lot! You have managed to inspire others with communication difficulties but you have also inspired aspiring SLT’s, that’s amazing!
    Thank you for sharing your story.
    Lizzy

    • Lizzy,

      Thank you for reaching out. I’ve been speaking to local university classes for over 25 years and it remains a highlight for me. I love sharing my story with them and opening up to any question they may have. Please consider me a resource if ever needed. Good luck to you!

      Sincerely,

      Annie B.

  21. Annie! I am so glad I got to read this. Thank you for sharing it with us on Stutter Social last week. I resonate so much with some of the places you have been emotionally. I had a friend ask me a few years ago “Who said that?” when I’ve expressed my own feelings of not being ‘enough’ and I realized I didn’t have an answer outside of myself.

    You are lucky to have had a father with those wise words. It’s such a difficult lesson to learn… at any age. I’ve seen people at all ages who have not really started to even learn this. Lately, thanks to the NSA, I have been thinking more about that “next person” at the bank. While I know my next situation won’t be easy, and I may even hide away from confronting someone, I know that I am working my way to that place. I am so glad to know that you did that because you are one of the nicest people I’ve met, so that helps make me feel like it’s not an unkind thing to say or do (tell someone what they are really doing when they mimic).

    • Jaymie,

      It is so wonderful that we finally met in AZ and I am really looking forward to getting to know you more.

      Thank you for reading my story and for writing. The more times you participate on Stutter Social the more you will hear me say “baby steps”. I truly believe we have to start out with small steps, create small successes and remember where we have been every time things don’t go as we planned or hoped. We are often our worse critics. David’s message from his workshop was exactly what I am referring to. For me….when the anger turned into curiosity I found that I didn’t care so much about the reactions of others but instead learned from their reactions. It made me realize it is my responsibility to educate and most people don’t mean to be stupid or mean…they truly don’t know what we are doing and/or they don’t understand the impact it has had on our lives. I did less confronting and more understanding and talking and more times than not I found my listener was interested and often had a friend or family member who stuttered.

      Oh, this journey we are on…I hope as you get more active you realize more and more you are not in this alone and soon…the blessings, friendships, and wonderful people will be greater than the desire to make it go away…and you will realize your story too will open the hearts of others just finding the stuttering community and bring them comfort.

  22. Annie,
    I enjoyed every word that I read in your paper. I am currently in my second year of graduate school to become a Speech-Language Pathologist and I felt inspired by many things that you said. I will take these things along with me as I begin my career! I read that you did not become involved within the stuttering community until you were 19 years old. Before you got involved, did you ever receive speech therapy services? If so, did the speech therapist you worked with ever offer any information about stuttering support groups in your area?

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with the world! Not only was this inspiring to read, but also a great learning tool for me.

    • Hello Mach0205…

      I began going to speech therapy in the 3rd grade and continued through high school. The hard part was transfer for me back then. Working on my stuttering in the comfort and safety of my speech therapists office was one thing. Taking those tools into real life at school…I wasn’t willing to do this. The embarrassment and shame out weighed my desire to work on my speech. I don’t think I was the only teenager to think this way. It was in Junior college that my views on my stuttering began to change. I was fortunate that the therapist at the college understood stuttering and had trained under one of the forefathers of stuttering therapy. Dr. Joseph Sheehan. He organized group therapy groups weekly and it was then that I met others who stuttered and began to feel less alone. Remember this is nearly 40 years ago so not even the National Stuttering Association was around back then…oh I’m feeling old! 🙂 At that time Dr. Sheehan also ran therapy/group/support groups for his clients going through therapy at UCLA where he taught and we would drive up to LA and visit them often. Through these experiences I began to learn that it was okay to stuttering. These times prepared me for the intensive therapy I went to at the age of 22 at Eastern Washing University in Cheney Washington created and ran by Dr. Dorvan Breitenfeldt. This 3 1/2 week intensive program (Successful Stuttering Management Program – SSMP), is also a teaching program for graduate students and continues on today. Using Sheehan and Dr. Breitenfeldt theories they helped me get rid of my secondaries, understand them, understand my stuttering…work through fears and then how to make stuttering tools work for me. Today the attitude adjustment I made during that time and the tools still assist me. You can learn more about the SSMP at http://www.ssmpmanualcom.

      Thank you for taking the time to write and ready my story….

      Annie B.

  23. Annie,
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your paper. I feel that you did not feel worthy because you did not let negative thoughts and others impact your outlook. However, you should know that the comments said by others was, in fact, negative influences. Instead of holding on to the negativity, you chose to take a much greater path, the one of education! This is something to be worthy of. You educated people when they did not understand and were downgrading instead of criticizing. That is an extremely difficult thing to do, one you should be proud of. It is far easier to be mad than happy, and you chose the latter end. You chose to use your story to empower and educate others of your journey. You let others in and showed them a different road that was taken to counter the negativity displayed by others toward those that stutter. I feel your story will encourage others to follow in your footsteps and look at their disfluency in a more positive light. Thank you for letting us in!
    -Amanda Davis

    • Amanda,

      Thank you for your kind words and for reading my story.

      I realize how blessed I have been that at a young age I learned that most people don’t intend to hurt others and that by being open not only did I education but I opened up my own heart to better understanding and caring for my own stuttering.

      Thanks again for reaching out.

      Annie B.

  24. I am moved by your writing that is filled with wisdom. Your lovable father is right: “Do what you want to do and don’t let the particular situation define you.” Wow! Reading profound stories like yours and meeting role models young and old from the stuttering community give me the encouragement to actively engage my stuttering so that I’m the author of my own story. By the way, you are not seen as an “oldie.” You are the ultimate rock star and a gift to many of us! Happy ISAD!!

    • Dear Vanna,

      You are part of my story with rich memories and I have valued your friendship over the years. Every time i see you I say…we need to spend more time.

      Thank you for reading and reaching you.

      You my dear friend are a bright shinning star and I a blessed to call you my friend.

      Love, A

  25. Hi Annie,

    Thank you for sharing such an honest and thought provoking paper. I think everyone can relate in some way to the thoughts and feelings that you mention, but it is so inspiring how you have turned those negatives into positives. Your fathers advice is very empowering to remember in times that test and challenge us. So thank you for sharing this. As a first year speech and language student I have found this paper and your replies to previous comments, extremely helpful.Your advice in response to a previous comment to’engage, experience, talk and listen’ is something that I will take with me.
    Thank you.
    Kimberley

    • Kimberley,

      Thank you for your kindness. I am so happy that you were able to take away something from my paper and the responses. It is so encouraging to see so many students engaging on here. You will definitely connect with those you treat from the interest you show. Stuttering is such a frustrating and complex disorder but I do believe with open communication and honesty we can find support and speech therapy can change our quality of life.

      The best of luck to you!

      Annie B.

  26. Hello Annie,

    This is such a beautiful and powerful piece. I would agree with you that everyone should share their story to heal from experiences. You are truly an inspiration to everyone, even readers like me who do not stutter. I am especially drawn to what your father said to you, “those people cannot define you”. This is so important, in all areas of life. The reactions and attitudes of others should never define us. I love how you educated, rather than reacted to, the teller at the bank as well.

    To tell you a little bit about myself, I am studying speech-language pathology in a masters program in Illinois. So, I am educating myself about not only the technical side of stuttering, but more importantly I am wanting to look into the whole picture of stuttering. Stories like this and the people I have met, inspire me to become an advocate for my future clients. I think it is so important to try to understand all perspectives. I am going to take your message and encourage my clients to try to reflect on their last success, acknowledge the negative reactions, but not let those moments define them.

    I am not sure of your personal experiences with speech therapy, but if you could give me any advice what would it be? I would love to hear your opinion!

    Thank you for sharing.
    Emily

    • Emily,

      Reading your response gave me goosebumps. You get it! I’ve said in other responses …. actually the last one that I know that treating us can be frustrating and is definitely a challenge but I do believe if together we can reflect and acknowledge our successes no mater the size and remember where we have been then change will occur. I did attend an intensive 3 1/2 week stuttering program called the Successful Stuttering Management program at Easter Washington University. I talk in great detail in another response….so I will summarize my experience now if you don’t mind…

      The program was half breaking down and exposing all the stuff I did when I stuttered…I had a list of 22-24 secondaries. I never knew what i completely did. We looked at our selves in the mirror…it was for me a moment in time I will never forgot. I saw it, my stuttering raw and naked and said to it, my stuttering, I hate you. You are ugly. I don’t like what you do to me, my body, my mind. Then we met eyes…me and my stuttering and peace came and the anger was replaced with interest and it was then for me things changed. When I stopped fighting and learned more my stuttering changed. I stuttered more for a time…but it was easy clean stuttering…no longer using my secondaries. I learned the power of being in control of my stuttering…

      Then the 2nd half of the program they taught us tools like pull-outs, easy onsets and prolongations. I use prolongations still today. It was 35 years ago. What lasted for me was the attitude adjustment. I am going to stutter till they day I die. Tools won’t always work. I stutter. That is my natural speech…tools are like Spanx…Wow they sure do work at first…but soon they feel so damn tight and uncomfortable I’d rather let my body be.Let it all hang out! I’ve never used that analogy before!!! LOL

      If I can stutter openly, with less fight and work…with dignity and I can speak my mind. Do all these on the difficult days…then I will be at peace. My advise…remember our attitude is as important as our skills in using our tools.

      I told myself I would keep this short. Opps.

      Best of luck and I hope to meet you and so many others here in the future…perhaps at an NSA annual conference!

      Annie B.

  27. Hi Annie,

    I am so glad I read your piece. The advice your father gave you applies to all areas of life and is inspiring. I think your story is great for everyone to read because you admit that not every day is happy and positive but you don’t let those bad days define you. Thank you for sharing this message.
    What area of your life was impacted the most when you began to stutter?

    • Hello Cofoneg,

      The area of my life was impacted the most for me – when I began to stutter?

      My own self-belief in myself. By reading my story you can tell I was surrounding by love, support and belief that I could do and be anything I wanted. With that being said why would I say the opposite?

      Life. It is what it is. When we are in our teens we are highly influenced by our peers and outside influences. Though home was always a safe and loving haven for me…I let outside experiences and feelings impact my self worth.

      When I was little…and began to stutter…I loved going to speech therapy. I don’t have memories of being teased or having the “negative” experiences until later. My speech teacher was pretty and I loved going to her…getting out of class. It was something that I looked forward to. In Junior High…being pulled from class is embarrassing. A friend of mine tells his story with his call to go to speech therapy over the intercom. He was 14 and humiliated. In high school…it was cool to get out of class.

      I seem to have a recurring message of the importance of looking at us, the client individually and understanding the entire process we must go through besides learning tools…It is how we are asked to leave class to practicing with our peers. Stepping back and stepping in our shoes is key and can create positive changes.

      I sort of went off topic but… 🙂

      Thank you for reaching out and reading my paper.

      Annie B.

  28. Hi Annie,

    Your piece is very powerful! I love how your father taught you that you have a choice about how you feel. Though your travels have you encountered PWS that feel like they do not have a choice? Also have you been back to that bank? How was your next experience there different?

    Thank you!

    Mario

    • Hi Mario,

      Being involved in the stuttering community my entire adult life…yes I have encountered and still do PWS who feel they do not have a choice..their stuttering has a hold on all aspects of their lives….

      ….and because I have been in the stuttering community my entire adult life I have seen the incredible power of the self-help community reach out and take hold of these PWS helping them to see they are not alone. They have a voice and one of the most important truths, that it is okay to stutter. I’ve been a member of the National Stuttering Association(NSA) since the age of 19 and today I am 57. Through the NSA I have learned all this and more. I am now a Stutter Social Host, a secure Google Hangout for people who stutter. Each time I host almost always…someone comes in who have found us and the community for the first time. Instantly fear and loneliness is replaced with hope and … it’s hard to put into words…but that feeling that things might just be okay.

      That bank…I don’t remember but I am sure I had gone back…but I continue to educate each step of the way in my stuttering journey. It fuels me and keeps me moving forward knowing if I can reach…even just one person….the next generation, then this is my purpose…my stuttering.

      Thank you for reaching out,

      Annie B.

  29. Hey Annie!
    I really enjoyed your heartfelt paper. I am currently finishing my second year in graduate school to be a Speech Language Pathologist and I feel that your paper has put into perspective all of the other factors that can accompany an individual who stutters. You truly are an advocate for individuals who stutter, which is an amazing trait to have. I agree that your story will help others through their journey of stuttering and to come to peace with certain aspects. In your paper you discussed some major moments regarding others reactions to your stutter. Knowing that every individual will work through their stuttering at a different pace, at what age did you come to acceptance of your stutter? Also, what would be a piece of advice you would give a future Speech Language Pathologist who services an individual who stutters?

    Thank you for opening up and posting your piece!

    Elyse

    • Elyse,

      Those experiences were the beginning of my journey and this was about the age of 16. It wasn’t until I was 22 that I had therapy that worked on the fears and shame I carried around. This was crucial and still it today. It was after 16, when I began to experience life more that it became harder for me. I began to avoid and with that came a long list of things I wouldn’t do and a longer list of things I tried to do to stop the stuttering. These became my secondaries….an even longer list.

      Advice. Listen, talk and find out what our expectations are. For me….until we worked on my secondaries…and why I was trying not to stutter…nothing worked. When we did uncover and work through them…and I will tell you …it was learning that it was okay to stutter…then the tools came into play and I was open to work with them and now…I know what works for me and what doesn’t. It is a life long process and being in control of my own stuttering…is so much better than feeling it controls me.

      I hope this helps some…and I wish you great success. Knowing there are many SLP students out there taking the time to read, comment and ask questions is so important and fills me with great hope and joy.

      Annie B.

  30. I was inspired by your post. I feel like your situation and outlook can give hope and peace to those inside and outside of the sputtering community. You showed that you did not let the hardships define you, but you let your reactions to this difficult situations shape who you would be.

  31. Hello Annie,

    Your paper is such a wonderful reminder to me of the value in sharing our individual stories to inspire others–even if it only helps one person!Thank-you for sharing! It was especially nice to see the idea of worthiness expressed. I have a treasured book that addresses this same concept. The author says that having those two convictions, that one is lovable and one is worthy, is the basis for self-esteem. I am wondering how you think your life might be different had you not had a supportive father. I am currently a student clinician attending Grad School in NC. As a future SLP I think about how I will talk with parents who do not understand how devastating criticism or disregard can be, and what their unconditional acceptance can mean to their child’s progress/recovery. Your message has encouraged me to have a different attitude about these potential scenarios. Although, not stuttering, I too have a personal experience to share (about negative parental style)that may help me relate to difficult parents. Thank-you again for being an advocate for individual self-worth.

    With Warm Regards,
    Hannah D.

    • Hannah,

      I’ve learned over the years that often the barriers between parents and their child’s stuttering can be fear and shame. Fear that they might feel responsible and shame that they wish it went away.

      Getting the parents involved in the stuttering community is one way to help work and move through this.

      Teaching them about their children’s stuttering…removes the blame and can be replaced often with understanding and open hearts.

      It is a process like anything else. Parents want their children to be happy and able to lead healthy lives as adults. Through the stuttering community they see it is possible.

      I wish you the best.

      Annie B.

  32. Hi Annie,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with everyone! I admire your courageous and optimistic view on how to handle such difficult situations. What would you say to a person if they were standing at the bank like you were and they were mistreated but did not have the courage you had to ask for the supervisor and explain to them about PWS? What if this person does not have resources such as your story to make them understand and appreciate the positive? What are some ways to overcome these fears and horrible scenarios? How can a person who is negative about their stutter turn it into something positive?

    Thank you,
    Aleksandra C.

    • Aleksandra,

      Things are different now though I know there are still so many who are just finding support…As a Stutter Social Google Hangout host I see new people finding these resources weekly. With the stuttering community so strong online I see people without the courage to speak up for themselves talk about it with others. It is amazing. It is working.

      As a clinician talking and getting out of the therapy room and going online with your client. Show them…even the young that they are not alone. This is crucial in the process to understand and overcome the negative feelings associated with our stuttering.

      I tell those who are new to support…baby steps. Go out and start with those you love and who support you and then get a little out of your comfort zone. Talk about it…tell people about it. Take the client out into the shopping mall or somewhere… Survey and soon they will see that most people are kind and know someone else who stutters. Little by little courage replaces avoidance and we begin to stand up for ourselves and our stuttering.

      I hope this helps a little…

      Thank you for reaching out.

      Annie B.

  33. Annie,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It was very raw, real, and relatable to both PWS and people such as myself, who do not stutter. I think your story is a very important one to tell because, as you said, even a story “without gripping experiences” can be relatable to others. Your message, that you are in control of the way each story ends is powerful. This message is relatable to all humans. As you said, we all have a choice as to how we feel, and it is our reactions to other that define us. Thank you for this reminder. I hope to apply your message to my life, as well as share this with my clients in the future!

    Kind regards,
    Avalon Scopellite

    • Avalon,

      Thank you for your kind words. I wish you great luck in your journey to become an SLP. We need more who understand our stuttering.

      Again…thank you…for reaching out and for reading my story.

      Annie B.

  34. This was a very inspirational story to read. You are very courageous and brave.

    Kind Regards

    Kendall

  35. Thank you for sharing.
    It was interesting for me to read how people can inflict hurt on others without meaning to, and with seemingly small things i.e. “are you singing back there”? It is something to be aware of- have patience and don’t assume you know everything.

  36. Thank you for sharing this inspirational story! Your positive approach is admirable.

    Kind regards,
    Ileshaa

    • lleshaa,

      Thank you for taking the time to read and reach out. This has been a wonderful experience…

      Annie B.

  37. Hi Annie,
    I was drawn to your paper based on the title and your focus on what the meaning of feeling worthy actually means. I enjoyed reading about your journey and what it has taken for you to feel comfortable sharing your story with others so that it might help others to not feel so alone. What a great lesson from your dad! I think that when trying to accept something about your life that you cannot change it really is important to remember that no one has enough power over you to affect your self-esteem or self-expression. I am very impressed at your ability to turn your anger into energy in the situation regarding the bank teller, I’m not sure that I would have been able to do that. I like how you emphasize the important of telling each individual’s story and how there is so much value in this community and how important it is to connect and reach out to others.
    Kelly

    • Kelly,

      Thank you for reading my story and for taking the time to reach out.

      Truly…

      Annie B.

  38. Tell your story Annie. “When we share our story we foster courage, connection and even change” can I get a big hell yes? Excellent way to end your message. Yes! let’s tell the story and find courage to take it into the future.

  39. Annie,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I believe that one of the hardest things in life is to open yourself up to vulnerability and I admire your bravery to share your story with us. I completely agree with you when you stated that we often hyper analyze our last difficult situation and replay situations over and over in our minds and focus on the negativity. As a PWS and a lifetime of experiences with people not understanding what it means to stutter, how would you advise a speech pathologist to address more of the covert aspects that accompany stuttering (i.e., anxiety and frustration) with a client?

    • 731…

      The Covert stutterer…there is so much to uncover I believe…

      hiding our stuttering is a full time job. It is exhausting. You have to deal with the shame that accompanies the hiding and then the exposure. It is a slow process but I see people all the time realize it is okay to stutter. It is like a blooming flower. Talk, listen and understand. If someone has spent a lifetime hiding – tools will not be used until acceptance replaces the shame.

      If you can attend a National Stuttering Association annual conference ever I would highly suggest this. There are workshops just on covert stuttering…and others on all aspects of stuttering…many are put on by the leading specialists in the country and many are geared towards the SLP. Getting the covert stutter to attend is also a beautiful way to learn it is okay to stutter…when this happens then the anxieties and frustrations are replaced with hope.

      Thank you for reaching out

      Annie B.

  40. Hi Anne,
    I absolutely loved this story! Your words really touched me. Thank you so much for sharing. Your father had some very wise insights, and it is inspiring to hear how successfully you were able to apply them in your own life. It is all too easy to let other people’s perceptions influence your own and revert back to those feelings of unworthiness. When emotions are high, it not easy to think clearly and turn a bad situation into a positive learning experience. You are a person of strong character. Not only can your words be used as inspiration and guidance for PWS, they can be applied to many circumstances. Being a graduate school who doesn’t stutter, I was concerned about my ability to relate to PWS and provide the best therapy possible. Although different, my own story may have more underlying emotional connections to other PWS than I thought possible. Since your story was so helpful to me, it gives me hope I can one day do the same for others.
    Sammy

    • Sammy,

      You will be a wonderful clinician. You know…when we stutter we are exposing ourselves to the world. It is a very vulnerable experience and feeling. When our clinicians understand this, I believe the therapy experience can be very helpful.

      I’m rushing my response to you and I apologize. The site will be closed soon for responding and my work week kept me from here…

      Stay open. Be honest with your clients. Talk with us. Listen.

      You’ve got this!

      Annie B.

  41. Hi Annie,

    Thank you for sharing. Your story was very inspirational. I especially loved your experience at the bank. You were right. The bank teller may not know what harm he/she could cause to a PWS. What you did was brave and courageous.

    Best,

    Angel

    • Angel,

      Thank you for reaching out and for reading my story…

      A mentor of mine taught me to ask myself…Am I being reactive or proactive. I try hard to use this in all aspects of my life.

      Thanks again…

      Annie B.

  42. Annie,

    Thank you for showing the courage to share this story! Your strength is absolutely amazing. We, as humans, need one another to push through this journey. As an aspiring SLP, we are taught disorders as whole subjects. We often forget that the disorder is a part of a whole system. When individuals, like yourself, share their story and move with actions that are loving (such as the instance with the bank teller you recounted) we are reminded that the individual works within a whole, just as a disorder works within a whole person. With actions such as yours, the love grows and the story never ends!

    Again, thank you.
    Virginia Weaver

    • Virginia,

      Your words are beautiful and I thank you for reaching out to me and for reading my story. We need more clinicians like you who understand the importance of treating the whole person. Having so many students on here is heartwarming as I see the next generation of stutterers will be in good hands…

      again…thank you! Truly

      Annie B.

  43. Hi Annie,

    While I have never met you, I can immediately tell that you are a person who holds an immense amount of purpose in this life. So many people, like the boss who fired you, still need much educating about stuttering. By sharing these stories, you can greatly change the lives of those who stutter and those who do not for the better. Before I knew much about it, I will admit that I was afraid to communicate with a person who stutters. My concern was that I would accidentally say or do something that might offend them. Many people may still feel the way that I did, so it is important that the courageous individuals like yourself continue to share their stories and bring awareness to all.

    Thanks again,
    Katie

    • Katie,

      Thank you for your honesty about your fears to communicate with those of us who stutter. I totally get it. I am a firm believer that as the stutterer, it is my responsibility to make the listener comfortable and educated about the disorder. I am fortunate to meet many young who stutter and often they are angry by the responses they receive. I hope my message helps them. I do believe that most people are kind and the awkward feelings and responses are just from not knowing what we are doing or how…as you say, to respond. When I began to open up it seemed things did change for me and I then saw my purpose. Everything changed when this shift occurred.

      Again, thank you for your honesty and for reaching out.

      Annie B.

  44. Hi Annie,

    I feel so inspired after reading your story. I was especially touched by what your dad told you after being fired from your job. It is so important to have a support system like that when facing any sort of challenge in your life, as I’m sure you know! I love that you got another job at a different shop and then quit on your own terms – way to take matters into your own hands! I am currently a graduate student studying Speech-Language Pathology and am in a fluency class. It is so rewarding to read stories such as yours that give real life examples of things I am learning in my graduate program. Thank you so much for telling your story!

    Sarah

    • Sarah,

      Thank you for reading my story and I wish you the best of luck as you study towards becoming an SLP. We need clinicians who truly understand us and I agree that reading all these stories along with your text books is a perfect blend.

      Thanks for reaching out!

      Annie B.

  45. Thank you for sharing this. There was something so raw about understanding your true emotions through this journey. These emotions and situations you have experienced will help me connect to my clients better as a student in grad school hoping to become an SLP.

    • Maria,

      I wish you luck in your journey to become an SLP. It is truly wonderful to see so many students reading the papers on here. I do believe it will assist and give you a greater understanding of what is behind the stuttering block.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out.

      Annie B.

  46. Annie–
    Thank you for sharing your story and wonderful words of wisdom. So many people struggle with feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness—myself included—and, while true self-love and self-worth comes from within, hearing the trials, tribulations, failures, and triumphs of others helps bring us one step closer to finding our own inner strength and reminds us we are not alone in our struggle. I love your honesty when you said, “I struggle and fight myself out of darkness often,” as I too find myself in this position more often than not, and you are right in that our old stories can empower and positively guide us when we acknowledge, own, learn from, and rise above them. As an SLP student we are taught techniques and methods to improve articulation and language deficiencies, but I’m beginning to realize that stuttering is not something that we should strive to “fix.” Instead, it is a part of an individual—like the shape of their body or color of their skin—that should be embraced, acknowledged, and loved, which isn’t always easy and needs to be taken one day at a time.
    You mentioned in a previous comment that you attended the SSMP and your mother cried because you sounded happier, but stuttered more. I’m curious, what was the best advice your parents were given in regards to your stuttering treatment, management, and acceptance?

    Thank you again for sharing your beautifully honest story.

    • eJones,

      Advice my parents were given…

      To be honest when I was a young child they were not given good advice. My mom was told I would out grow my stuttering from the family pediatrician. He was a great doctor but doctors are not trained about stuttering. This has been something I’ve wanted to work on for a long time. When I was Executive Director for the National Stuttering Association we actually made a Rolodex Card (before Outlook)with the header saying STUTTERING with the goal that they would put it in their Rolodex Card holder…so funny that they are not used much anymore…anyway, the card had a few facts on it and the 800 number. We hoped that pediatricians would call and we could then recommend a SLP that specialized in stuttering to them. We gave it a good try but funding didn’t allow us to get it throughout the US.

      I know I am very fortunate to have grown up in a family environment that fosters love and growth. They supported me with every aspect of my life…so when I began my stuttering journey and learned more and change occurred for me they opened up their hearts and followed. We actually found the SSMP watching TV. I think it was maybe the first reality show called That’s Impossible. The program was highlighted and the next day my mom called to learn more. During the time I was ED for the NSA they attended the annual conferences and became for many, the parents of the NSA.

      Today my involvement in the stuttering community is all about the next generation. More and more families are finding support and the stuttering community when their children are still school age. This is what it is all about. Advice…learn, listen, and as clinicians I know often parents can be part of the challenge. Behind this struggle is often fear and guilt that sometime along they way they did something to bring on the stuttering. Getting them involved in an organization like the NSA will not only provide the support and education but they will meet other parents who have worked through their fears and are now accepting as well as meeting adults who are leading healthy lives. This is as important as any tool taught.

      Thank you for reaching out and for taking the time to read my paper…

      Annie B.

  47. Annie,

    Your story was such a beautiful reminder that you cannot let what anyone else does define you. It is so easy to dwell on the negative and judge your worth based on what others think of you. I am very inspired by your attitude and outlook! I agree that every human being is worthy of being loved and feeling that he or she is valuable and enough. We would all do well to adapt your outlook and your story has given me great encouragement to do so! Thank you for sharing.

    Warm Regards,

    Alyssa Kubinski