How I overcame my stuttering and why that’s made all the difference

huangAbout the author:  My name is Justin Huang and I am currently entering the 12th grade in high school. I was born and raised in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. I have had a noticeable stutter since middle school. This stutter becomes especially bad when I try to speak languages in which I am less fluent (French, Chinese). After I realized this, I worked with a speech therapist to correct the stutter. While somewhat effective, I eventually decided to stop, as other developments in my life made me realize that my stutter was completely tied to my confidence. With the help of friends and family, I have been able to gradually overcome my lack of confidence. My stutter has since improved, and even when it occurs, it no longer impacts my self-esteem 🙂 I wanted to come online to share my story and also give any advice to others struggling with similar obstacles. #ISAD2015

Beads of sweat began to collect on my forehead, as snickers of laughter echoed throughout the classroom. I opened my mouth to speak and a staccato of ‘buh’s’ shot out. ‘Buh-buh, buh-buh, b-bonjour’. Any confidence I had, disintegrated. And I trudged through my three-minute French presentation, facing for countless times my worst enemy – my stutter.

As I spoke, I could the feel the eyes of my classmates cutting to pieces any remains of my confidence. Even those who usually dozed off during presentations looked my direction, as if waiting to see when I would stutter next. Midway through, I hazarded a glance toward my French teacher. Usually kind and supportive, his face was draped with the initial stages of a frown. ‘This is going terribly’, I thought. My thoughts turned into anguish, and helplessly, I stumbled onward. When the presentation was over, my mind tried to block out what had just happened, but the damage to my confidence had been done. I wondered why this experience felt so awful. After all, stuttering was nothing new to me. Any time I was forced to speak in front of others, I would have to do battle with it. In French class, my worst class, I almost always lost. But even then, this was a new low. After talking to my parents about it, I realized I was disturbed by the fact that this was the worst my stuttering had ever been, and the worse it became, the more non-existent my confidence -I was caught in a relentless downward spiral.

During that time, my brother was volunteering with the Red Cross, and overheard that the organization was looking to reach out to schools in the Ottawa area, hoping to re-expand its Christmas season Poinsettia Campaign through school-wide fundraisers. Suddenly, here was an opportunity to make a positive difference in my community. For as long as I could remember, Christmas had been my favourite holiday – I always loved going with the family to pick up a poinsettia and Christmas tree from the local store. And going around with friends selling poinsettias to students and teachers sounded awesome. Moreover, after asking around, it turned out that the Poinsettia Campaign was an old school tradition that had died out a few years earlier. Plenty of good reasons to take on this opportunity, and yet I was caught in a mental tug-of-war. ‘It’ll be fun to do with friends – but you’re going to have to speak at school assembly – but you’ve always loved Christmas – but you’re going to have to speak at school assembly – but you enjoy fundraising – you’re still going to have to speak at school assembly’. While in the midst of my contemplation, my brother entered my room, surprised to find me sitting on my bed with a blank expression on my face. After I told him about the opportunity and my speaking-related concerns, he argued to me that I would ultimately enjoy the experience very much. I still wasn’t too convinced, but reluctantly decided to move forward with the initiative.

The night before the first school assembly announcement, I rehearsed my speech at least a hundred times. Every time I stuttered on a word, I changed it to an easier one. By the time I had finished, my voice was nearly hoarse from practicing. But I had precisely crafted a stutter-friendly speech that would last a grand total of twenty-five seconds.

Then came presentation day. The chaotic sounds of hundreds of students and faculty filled the hall where school assembly was held each week. The first portion of school assembly is still a blur in my memory. All I remember is nervously fumbling around with my cue card, looking up at the projector screen every now and then to see how many presentations were left until mine. All the while, feelings of doubt filled my mind – ‘they’re going to laugh’, ‘you don’t have what it takes’, ‘you’re just not ‘that person’’. When my turn finally came, I shimmied through crowds of students onto the stage and walked to the podium accompanied by the two friends I had recruited to organize the campaign. My hands were ice cold and probably a little purple from lack of blood flow, and my stutter felt ready to ruthlessly embarrass me in front of the entire school. I was the last to present of the three of us. I walked up to the podium and took a deep breath, and got ready for the word staccatos to shoot out like they had in French class. But the weirdest thing happened – I spoke fluently. Word after word flowed off my tongue without a problem, and a moment later, the audience’s applause rang in the air.

Over the following four weeks, I presented three more times, opting to do so alone each time. The night before the final presentation, my brother once again walked into my room. This time, he was rather confused. He expected that I would be furiously reciting and re-writing my speech, but instead the lights were off and I was sound asleep, brimming with confidence.

After this experience, life around me continued as normal, but the change I had undergone was unmistakable. Rather than avoiding anything that remotely involved public speaking, I began to embrace these opportunities. I started to actively search for ways in which I could take initiative. I had always been passionate in several school activities, ranging from cross-country and badminton to molecular modelling and the school musical. I gradually took on more leadership positions in each of these activities, and each time, my confidence soared. At the end of this past year, I decided to apply for the school’s ultimate position of social responsibility and leadership – student prefect. The decision held enormous personal significance, as it epitomized the marked change I had undergone since that time in French class a year earlier. Not only do prefects have to speak in front of the school frequently, they are expected to be leaders of the student body and ambassadors for the school. None of these things I would have dared to do a year ago – not only did I have the stutter, but I simply didn’t see myself as having what it took to be ‘that person’. The only difference now? Confidence. I believe others at my school had noticed the change as well, since ultimately with their support, I was selected as a prefect.

In hindsight, I am in awe at the amount of change a year can entail. I had been caught up in a terrible cycle in which my stutter sucked my confidence, and the Poinsettia Campaign was the exact opportunity I needed to break out of it. Speaking in front of the school and coordinating the sale of poinsettias showed me I could excel in positions of leadership. That crucial boost in confidence enabled me to pursue other leadership opportunities, to realize I could make a positive difference, and to once and for all, do away with the notion that I couldn’t be ‘that person’. In the meantime, I noticed that the more confident I became, the less I stuttered. And while my stutter still lingers to this day, I have chosen not to allow it to affect me. What happens now if I stutter? A split-second of embarrassment, but that’s it.

Now, with school resuming in a week, I look forward to that first French class presentation. I am eager to see what a whole year of growth in confidence can do. Ultimately with or without this stutter, I feel the sky is the limit. So to all those out there who continue to feel anguish or low self-esteem because of their stutter, I implore you to take that first step towards overcoming the fear of speaking. This definitely entails getting out of your comfort zone and speaking up in front of others, but that aside, can take on a myriad of different forms. Maybe it’s delivering a toast at the next party, or asking a question for the first time in your lecture hall, or, as in my case, speaking up in front of your school. Regardless of the situation, I assure you it will be well worth it.

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Comments

How I overcame my stuttering and why that’s made all the difference — 79 Comments

  1. Hi Justin,

    Thanks very much for sharing your story. I really like the way you explain that you stutter “no longer impacts my self-esteem”. Your story should be an inspiration to us, and I hope you will find a way to speak to more PWS and to encourage them.

    Hanan

    • Hi Hanan,

      Thank you for your kind words. I will definitely try to speak to more PWS in the future to try to encourage them to overcome their stutters as I did mine.

      Justin

  2. Good for you! You have written a very confidence-inspiring article. Your progress is mind-boggling. Keep on keeping on…..this is the journey of a lifetime. Thanks for your article.

  3. Hi Justin, what a great paper! I am a graduate student studying speech-language pathology in North Carolina. In your bio you said you received speech therapy services but decided to discontinue them. I was curious, what did you find to be effective / ineffective about the therapy you received? Also, did your therapist ever address your confidence, or is this something you came to realize on your own? Thanks!

    • Hi Kristin,

      Thank you! My situation with speech therapy was a bit odd. I had my stutter for 2 or 3 years before I finally decided to try speech therapy. At that time, I already knew certain things about my stutter. I knew that there were always certain letters I stuttered on worse than others, and was vaguely aware about this confidence factor. Some of the most useful information I received was an explanation of what a stutter actually was. This included an explanation of its genetic roots and its likely cause of onset. After this, I practiced some methods of reducing my stutter by changing how I pronounce certain syllables. However, ultimately, after a few months, I felt that I had gained all I could out of the therapy, and that I could continue to improve on my own. My therapist only lightly touched upon my confidence. This was more something I observed during my years prior to therapy. I noticed that I tended to stutter in classes I was less comfortable in and around people I was less familiar with.

      I hope this helps!

  4. TERRIFIC paper, Justin. Thank you for doing this. We share many of the same experiences. Your positivity will encourage all of us. Thanks again.

  5. Hi Justin,

    What an inspiring story! I have fluent speech and talking in front of big crowds still scares me. Good for you for overcoming your fears and being a leader in your school! Does your stuttering still cause you problems in French and Chinese even though you have come so far when speaking English? Or has your stutter improved in those languages as well as it has in English? Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Hello,

      Thank you! Yes, my stutter still does cause me problems in both French and Chinese. Unfortunately, I do not speak either of these enough to fully overcome my stutter in either. However, my improvements in English have improved my confidence, which have in turn lessened the effect of my stutter in French and Chinese.

  6. Hi Justin,

    Your story is truly inspiring! I am a graduate student studying speech-language pathology at Illinois State University. I am surprised to read that the speech therapy you received barely touched on your confidence as a communicator. I am very happy that you were able to find this out for yourself. Do you believe that confidence is the most important component for PWS? Also, If you were to give advice to those studying to be SLPs, what would your most helpful tip be? Thanks for sharing!

    • Hello,

      Thank you very much! I definitely believe that confidence is the most important component for PWS. Not only does increased confidence partially mitigate the physical appearance of a stutter, it also dulls the effect of the stutter.

      I believe that the most important attribute an SLP must have is to be warm and welcoming. I was very fortunate to have a SLP who had these traits, and this allowed me to be completely comfortable during therapy sessions. I can not imagine what it would have been like to be receiving stutter therapy in a place where my stutter bothered me.

  7. Hi Justin!

    I am in a Masters program for Speech-language pathology in NC, and loved hearing your experience going through school with presentations/speaking publicly and how you were able to gain confidence through through the fear of stuttering just by doing it!

    My question for you is in regards to your therapy experience, I read in a previous post that your therapist did address some of the confidence issues that is around stuttering, but what kinds of activities did you do during therapy to become more comfortable? Did your therapist ever discuss stuttering purposefully in public situations in attempt to become more confident in the way you specifically stutter versus others?

    • Hi Meredith,

      During my therapy sessions, my SLP showed me methods to mitigate the obviousness of my stutter. I learned how to soften out many of the harder letters (b, d, t) as these were causing me the most trouble. I also learned to consciously slow down my speaking pace, as I tend to speak quite quickly.

      No, my therapist never discussed stuttering purposefully in public situations, however, my therapist did encourage me to self-advertise. I was encouraged to tell others of my stuttering and my efforts to overcome it. I was told that this would help me feel more comfortable in public situations, and I felt that this did help.

  8. Thank you for sharing Justin. Very inspiring article. Loved your attitude at reaching your dreams. Keep on pushing out this comfort zone.

  9. Hi Justin,

    What an inspiring article. I am a student Speech and Language Therapist studying in England. Your story is uplifting and encouraging and it is so helpful to have your insight into stuttering. Keep going and keep sharing.

    Ceris

  10. Hi Justin

    I have fluent speech and public speaking still scares me. The difference you were able to make in just a year is very impressive. I have learned from you to take that leap. Thank you!

  11. Hi Justin,
    Thank you for sharing this truly inspirational story! What a fantastic read. You really identify with the covert features of stammering and the link with the overt presentations.
    What an incredible achievement not only for yourself but in supporting / educating others by writing this piece.

  12. Hi Justin,

    I’m a student Speech and Language Therapist and loved reading your story. It’s so valuable to be able to read such an encouraging article on stuttering and I am very impressed at the progress you have made! Thanks for posting your insights!

    Amelia

    • Hi Amelia,

      Thank you very much! I loved writing this piece as it holds great personal significance.

      Justin

  13. Hi Justin,
    I am a graduate student at UW Stevens point studying speech therapy. You have a great story and I am glad you have shared it. It goes very well with what we have discussed in the fluency class I am currently taking. We have talked a lot about making therapy person centered and really getting to what the person wants out of therapy and diving in to how the person who stutters is feeling. Your story is not only inspirational to other people who stutter, but it also shows that maybe if a your SLP had a different approach to therapy it would have been more beneficial to you. You maybe would have found that confidence even earlier! But nonetheless I’m so happy you have found it.

    Brittani

    • Hi Brittani,

      Thank you! My SLP was extremely kind and definitely did help me with several aspects of my stuttering, but I think everyone has room to innovate and improve. Overall, I am very happy with where I am at now.

      Justin

  14. Hi Justin,

    I find your story very moving and it’s great to see that overall your overcame your fears and gained the confidence you wanted. What have you been up to now since taking on all the leadership roles you have put yourself in? Is there anything new and exciting you’re doing now? Hope you continue your courageous journey spreading positive awareness to those who don’t know about stuttering and the stuttering community. Good luck!

    Jessica

    • Hi Jessica,

      Thank you! I enjoy communicating within groups and organizing groups of people. I have continued to try to lead to the best of my ability, which has often involved being very outspoken. However, I now enjoy speaking out to different members of groups I lead. Currently, as a student prefect, I am beginning to organize a committee of students that will initiate new academic-oriented initiatives in the school.

      Justin

  15. Hi Justin,
    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story! I am currently a graduate student in a speech-language pathology program, and since I am taking a fluency class this semester, I have become increasingly curious about stuttering. After reading your story I had a couple of questions. Firstly, you mentioned in your bio that you have been stuttering since middle-school, I was wondering if there was a specific event that caused this or it kind of just started out of nowhere? Also, has the confidence boost itself minimized the stuttering moments, or is it still a conscious effort on your part to avoid certain words etc. (the way you describe you did the night before that first assembly)? I look forward to hearing back from you, and wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors!

    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,

      My family and I believe that there was a certain event that triggered my stuttering. In eighth grade, I committed myself heavily to piano practicing. This stressed me out greatly, and we believe that this initiated my stuttering. I no longer need to consciously avoid certain words when speaking English, however, I still need to do so when speaking French in class. While the confidence has mitigated my stutter greatly, I still do need to make this effort in French class.

      Justin

  16. I am a speech and language therapy student and really enjoyed reading your article.
    Thank you for sharing your moving and inspirational story!

  17. Hi Justin,

    It was great to read your story. I’m glad that you now have lots more confidence as it must have taken a lot of courage to do what you did.

    Alice

  18. Hello Justin,

    Thank you for sharing your uplifting story. It revealed an underlying experience that many people who stutter undergo: negative self-reinforcement. As a graduate speech clinician, I am aware about the detrimental effects that negative self-reinforcement can do onto an individual’s quality of life.

    Moreover, I am happy you to hear that you have taken several steps in overcoming your fear of verbal communication. Given your experience, have you considered sharing and involving yourself with a local stuttering outreach group? It may be a great benefit to you. Also, have you considered any further service from a speech therapist or another professional who would discuss the aspect of negative self-reinforcement?

    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you the best in all of your endeavors.

    Rudy

    • Hi Rudy,

      Thank you! I have considered trying to join an outreach group. Unfortunately, I never got to doing it. In coming years I wish to try to do so.

      Despite my stutter, I feel very comfortable in the position I am in right now. So I have not considered going back to a speech therapist.

      Justin

  19. Dear Justin,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with stuttering. It has really given me a feel for what people who stutter go through and how difficult it really may be. It’s inspirational how you build your confidence by getting out of your comfort zone and I am glad you had the courage to go up on that stage and present! I am a graduate student studying speech language pathology and I am currently taking fluency. I am curious to know what advice you would give to people who are not aware of how to speak to PWS so that they don’t say anything insensitive? Also were there other people in your school who stuttered and a support group within the school for PWS? In addition, how do you think one who stutters gets people to stop teasing them and make them realize it’s ok to stutter?

    Thank you again for being so inspirational and I’m sure you’ll go far in life!!

    Best,
    Zina

    • Hi Zina,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I think that the worst thing anybody who speaks to a PWS can do is to react to the stutter. This can come in multiple forms, but I think that the worst reaction is just laughter. I remember hearing laughter during my French presentation, and that was one of the most disheartening moments of my high school career. I believe there are a few other people at my school who stutter, however, there is not a support group within our school. I think that self-confidence largely impacts how others view a stutter as well. I believe that confidence on the side of the PWS is sensed by others and makes others realize that they do not need to comment on the stutter.

      Justin

  20. Hi Justin,
    Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. You mentioned that you began stuttering when you were in middle school. I am just curious to know if you remember with precision the moment when it all started (situation/event). Did you only speak English when your stuttering began in middle school and later became more noticeable as you were learning Chinese and French in high school? Or did you begin to stutter in English when you were introduced to Chinese and French in middle school?

    Thank you for your time,

    -Samantha Mendoza

    • Hi Samantha,

      Thank you! In middle school, I began to heavily commit to practicing piano. This stressed me out greatly. I believe that this was the event that caused me to start stuttering. I already spoke both French and Chinese when I started stuttering, and I believe my stutter began in all three languages at the same time.

      Justin

  21. Hi Justin,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story so boldly with us! I am graduate student in speech language pathology and I would like to know if you had positive or negative experiences with speech therapy? It is truly inspiring that you elected to give that first speech in front of your school, even though you were so nervous. I wish you success in your academic career and future!

    Best,
    Katrina

    • Hi Katrina,

      Thank you! I definitely had positive experiences with speech therapy. While I was already somewhat comfortable with my stutter when I started speech therapy, I believe that therapy allowed me to become fully comfortable with the stutter.

      Justin

      • Hi Justin,

        Thank you for your response! As a future SLP I am happy to hear that speech therapy was helpful to you. After reading your bio again I have another question for you! You said that you began experiencing disfluency in middle school. Do you remember if you experienced stuttering across all three languages or did it begin in one language and develop at a later time in the others?

        Thank you,

        Katrina

  22. Wow! What an inspirational story! I think your story can inspire so many people your age to overcome different struggles – especially those who stutter. It’s courageous to overcome a fear and especially in the way you did. Do you see an SLP now or do you feel that you are able to manage the stuttering without?

    Thanks again for sharing!
    Kirstin

    • Hi Kirstin,

      Wow, thank you so much! It would be great if this could help other PWS around my age. I do not see an SLP anymore, as I feel that I can manage my stutter on my own now.

      Justin

  23. Thank you for sharing your experiences with stuttering, both the negative and the positive. Your writing was so amazingly vivid and personal. Your story can be used with an array of audiences, serving as an inspiration to overcome their fears and gain the confidence they need. Continue to do great things!

  24. This was an inspiring story to read and I am glad that you chose to participate in the fundraiser despite your worries! You mentioned that when you stutter now you only have a brief moment of feeling embarrassed. Currently when speaking to large groups of people do you still practice what you are going to say and maybe change words to avoid stuttering or have you found that you don’t worry about having moments of stuttering anymore?

    Thanks for sharing your story,
    Maddie

    • Hi Maddie,

      Thank you! When I speak in front of large crowds, I still need to practice my speech many times before presenting. However, I rarely need to change words and small moments of stuttering do not bother me anymore.

      Justin

  25. Hi Justin, I am really inspired by your courageous approach and it is great to see just how much progress you have made in such a short space of time.I am a new student of SLT/P and it is great to start off hearing such a positive personal story.

    Jennifer

  26. Justin,

    Thank you for sharing your story! I became invested in your story so quickly. It was like I was on the edge of my seat waiting to sew what would happen next! Your words were so raw and genuine which made it easy to just briefly see into how you were feeling in the different moments throughout the story.

    The determination that you show throughout the story and then your overwhelming peace and acceptance about stuttering can be seen as encouraging to anyone! What lead you to this point? How were you able to change your viewpoint from a place of fear to only seeing stuttering as “a split second of embarrassment?”

    Thank you again for sharing your story! It was a joy to read.

    Kalie

    • Hi Kalie,

      Thank you so much! The Red Cross Poinsettia Fundraiser helped me greatly, as this was my first real experience leading a group of people. After the fundraiser turned out very successfully, my confidence was greatly boosted. This permeated into my attitude and gave me the boost I needed to realize that my stutter could only bother me as much as I felt it did.

      Justin

  27. Thanks Justin, this post was very insightful! I’m a fresher doing speech and language therapy and your story has inspired me showing the power of communication and the difference overcoming a stutter can make on someone’s life.

  28. Justin,

    I so enjoyed reading your paper! I have the utmost respect for someone who will stand up to the voice inside his/her head telling he/she “you will fail,” or “why even try?” Although I have never stuttered and will never understand what it means to stutter to a certain degree, I do feel that this is voice of failure is a voice that each individual possesses. I think how each person responds to that voice will greatly affect the course of each individual’s life.

    Do you believe that it was your strong desire and determination to accomplish something that you were passionate about that gave you the ability to speak fluently? If so, do you think it would be possible to harness that passion and use it to speak fluently in daily speech conversations? Is fluent speech across all situations a goal for you, or do you accept/hope to accept stuttering as a part of who you are and who you want to remain? Or, do you feel that it was constant rehearsal and the creation of a speech that was free of words of which you anticipated you would stutter that helped you to speak fluently?

    Again, thank you so much for sharing your experience. I am so glad that you are gaining confidence in yourself as a communicator with every passing day and every successful experience. I wish you the most success and hope you continue to find yourself gaining confidence daily.

    • Hello,

      Thank you very much! For that first presentation, I think it was more my rehearsal and my carefully-worded speech that allowed me to speak fluently. However, as time has passed, it has been my increased confidence and comfortableness as who I am that has allowed me to speak fluently in daily speech. I definitely wish to try to further mitigate my stutter in French and Chinese. However, I am very comfortable with myself today.

      Justin

  29. Hi Justin!
    Thank you for sharing your story & congratulations on prefect. I am excited to read about how your confidence soared from your first presentation to the next one. I believe that your story can truly inspire other persons who stutter. I am curious about your “ritual”-if you will, the night before a big presentation? Do you have any calming techniques that work well, or confidence boosters?

    • Hi Caitlin,

      Thank you! I do not have any special “ritual” that I use the night before big presentations. I think that the best calming technique and confidence booster is practice. After I practice a speech many times, I will usually be very comfortable to present.

      Justin

  30. Hello Justin,
    What an inspiring story you have about gaining control over your stutter and becoming a person of such confidence!! I believe your story resonates the message that “when you put your mind to something, you CAN accomplish it”, one that should be preached to ALL youngsters throughout life when attempting to attain what seems unattainable!! I am currently a graduate SLP student and enrolled in a fluency disorders course this semester. You mentioned in your bio that you sought the help of a SLP at some point, but chose to discontinue due to extenuating circumstances. I wonder what was the focus of your therapy and what did you feel was the most beneficial aspect of therapy? Best of luck to you in all your future endeavors! Your accomplishments are amazing!

    • Hello Kari,

      Thank you so much! The main focus of my therapy was mitigating my stutter by using certain strategies to soften the sound of some syllables. I would say that the general experience of speaking to someone who understood my situation was comforting. As a whole, this helped me settle into myself. Beyond this, I found the formal explanation of my stutter and the potential causes of it to be very helpful.

      Justin

  31. Justin,
    Thank you for sharing your story! I am currently a graduate SLP student (with Kari ^!) and am working in a high school for a practicum placement. One of the students I am working with stutters; we see him about once a month. He does not like to use any strategies to decrease the frequency of his stuttering. After reading your story I plan to encourage him to try to stretch out of his comfort zone (with presentations and speaking in front of groups) to see if he might experience some of the same success as you!
    I think that the advice to push yourself outside of your comfort zone can apply to anyone in any situation. We can all experience great growth when we push ourselves!
    Good luck with French this year!
    Dana Messer

    • Hi Dana,

      Thank you! I think that your student might initially shy away from these presentations (like I did initially), but if he can manage to just get over this first presentation, it will all be much better from there! I wish him the best of luck.

      Justin

  32. Hi Justin,

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. I am a Speech and Language Therapy student in the UK and we have only just started to look into fluency and stammering. It was really interesting to see the relationship between confidence and stammering improvement especially from a personal perspective. You have inspired me to work on my own confidence and not shy away from situations.

    Faye

    • Hi Faye,

      Thank you! That is great, I encourage you to always try to expand your comfort zone.

      Justin

  33. Hi Justin,

    Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story. I am studying to become a Speech-Language Pathologist and your story about having confidence to overcome your stutter was truly great. You are very motivating for other people, especially those who stutter. I read earlier that you believe your stutter came as a result of being stressed out. Did you stutter at all when you were younger or did you just begin to stutter after the stress? Keep up the awesome work and you are truly an inspiration to others.

    Marah

    • Hi Marah,

      Thank you! I do not remember ever stuttering when I was younger. I believe that my stutter only started when I became stressed with my piano practicing in grade 8.

      Justin

  34. Hi Justin,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I found everything you said to be inspiring as well as a good lesson for speech pathologists. As someone who is currently going to school to be a speech pathologist, how would you recommend subjects such as confidence are addressed in therapy? Also, I noticed that you had stated in your bio that you had previously received speech services. I realize that therapy is highly individualized, but what did you find to be the most effective strategies, if any?

    • Hello,

      Thank you very much! I think that addressing confidence to a PWS might be tricky at first. I do not think touching on the confidence with a PWS who may be less confident would help very much. I think that confidence should only be brought up after something positive has happened with the PWS to boost their confidence, even if it is only by a bit.

      I found that discussing the potential roots of my stuttering and gaining a better understanding of stuttering was helpful. I also found that certain methods to soften syllables helped me a bit when trying to avoid blocks in my speech.

      Justin

  35. Hi Justin,
    It is awesome that you have made such progress this past year. It is also great that you have taken on leadership roles that require you to publicly speak and interact with your peers. I am glad that you feel more confident and that you have decided to share your experiences with us!
    In your bio, you mentioned your family and friends helping you to overcome your “lack of confidence”. In what ways did they help you? Do you have any advice for the families of other people who stutter?

    • Hello,

      Thank you! I think my family definitely helped me a lot along the way, so I have a few tips for families of people who stutter.

      First off, never make the PWS aware of the stutter. When I first stuttered, my parents did not know what to make of it, so they tried to get me to repeat any word I stuttered on. Looking back, we realize that this did not help me mitigate my stutter at all, and it only lowered my confidence further, as I would have to stutter through the word several more times.

      Secondly, I think a family should know when to encourage their child to push their borders and when to avoid doing so. If a stuttering-related argument breaks out when a family tries to push their child, then the family should definitely stop. This would only give the child more negative memories to associate with their stutter. However, if the child is uncertain as to whether or not he should try to push his boundaries, I think the family should encourage it.

      I hope these help!

      Justin

  36. Hi Justin, thanks so much for sharing! I really enjoyed your story. I am a graduate student studying speech-language pathology in California. I noticed that in your “about the author” section, you mentioned receiving speech therapy but then ultimately stopping. I was curious, how long did you work with the therapist and what did you find to be most and least helpful about the therapy you received? Also, I noticed that you decided to end therapy because of the realization that your stutter and your confidence were correlated. Did your therapist ever address confidence or self esteem during your therapy?
    Thanks so much!
    Hillary

    • Hi Hillary,

      Thank you! I received therapy for about two months or so, going in once every week for an hour or so. My therapist first explained the genetic background and likely onset of my stuttering, which I found very useful. We also went over methods to soften out syllables that I stuttered on, which also helped me avoid blocks in my speech. I did not find anything from my SLP to be unhelpful.

      My therapist never fully addressed the topic of confidence or self esteem during our therapy. While she touched on it briefly, it was not a major focus.

      Justin

  37. Wow. This has made you so much stronger. Good for you to turn it around and stand up to stuttering. It does not have to be negative. I am glad you saw the light!

  38. Hi,
    I am a student and enjoyed your story. I liked your advice to push out of your comfort zone and not allow your stuttering moments to control your life. There is a little boy who stutters at the elementary school where I am completing some of my practicum work that often will refuse to go to therapy or shut down when stuttering is discussed in therapy. Do you have any advice for that little boy or for how to best help him in therapy? Thanks so much!

    • Hello,

      Thank you! This is definitely a very tricky situation. I did not have a stutter when I was in elementary school, so I do not think I can fully understand this little boy. However, I can definitely say that all measures must be taken to ensure that the boy never feels like everyone is against him. This may mean that sometimes you might have to accept that the boy is not prepared to discuss stuttering in therapy. However, I think that if the environment is supportive for long enough, the boy will eventually open up and be willing to try out therapy more readily.

      I wish you all the best with your endeavours to help him!
      Justin

  39. Hi Justin,

    Thank you for sharing your uplifting story! And congratulations for finding lots of confidence over the past year! All the best to you 🙂