The Real Me

CLuckmanAbout the author: Courtney Luckman is a 24-year-old person who stutters and a graduate student studying Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Maryland in College Park. She attended the University of Virginia for undergraduate studying Psychology and Cognitive Science with a concentration in Linguistics. She is on the National Stuttering Association “20 something’s” board, founder of the Charlottesville chapter and has served as co-chapter leader for the City of Chicago chapter. Before deciding to pursue a career in Speech-Language Pathology, she was a research intern at a zoo in Chicago studying great ape behavior. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, baking, writing, reading nerdy books, watching Grey’s Anatomy, being outside, college basketball, and educating people about stuttering. Check out her new blog at www.courtingcourage.blogspot.com

It is 2006, in a high school English class. I can’t listen to the presentations before mine. I can’t sit still. My body turns into panic mode and my thoughts race. My hands begin to tremble. Tick tock….tick tock shouts the sound of the clock. Our class is doing 10-minute oral presentations that we’ve been preparing for weeks. Students with last names beginning with ‘J’ are going now. I add up the time and I was safe. The time would run out and I would do my presentation next week. My stomach settles and I can relax. Until I hear, “Courtney Luckman.” All eyes are on me. I look at the clock. It is 1:55, 10 minutes until the end of the period and the end of the school day. It is a race between me and time and I know only one can win. I slowly get up and look around. Eyes glare at me. The room is silent. Pencils are tapping and book bags are zipping. Everyone is ready to go home and no one has patience for another presentation. I walk to the front of the room. My hands are shaking and I can barely hold my note cards.

Seconds pass that seem like hours.

Distressed.
Isolated.
Ashamed.
Embarrassed.
Misunderstood.
Trapped.

I hear the faint giggles in the distance. My chest and throat freeze. I try to speak but a sound won’t come out. The teacher jokingly says, “Would you like to introduce yourself?” But I am still frozen like a deer caught in the headlights. “……..My…” I begin. “……….My” I repeat. ………….“….My name is…um……..um…..um” I say before I run out of breath. The giggles become louder and turn into laughter. They can tell that I saw them so they bury their faces in their desk. My eyes fill with tears. Here I am, a laughing stock, a person who can’t even say her own name.

A mixture of anger and confusion ran through me. I didn’t understand what this thing was, why it was happening, and why it wasn’t going away. So what do you do when you don’t understand something? You Google it. That night, I typed in not getting your words out and what Google gave me was horrifying. I came across pages and pages of stories of lost opportunities, depression, and dealing with this thing called “stuttering.” The last sentence I read was, “It sucks, your stuttering will never go away.” My hand ran to my mouth and I closed the screen. The monster that was haunting me was immortal.

I decided to name my stuttering Monster, because that’s what it was to me: A giant, ugly, frightening creature that was determined to take over my life. Why was Monster after me? Why was he only picking on me? While everyone was out there living their lives not worrying about how they talk, my thoughts were consumed with what I would have to say and if I would be able to say it. What did I do to deserve this?

Like we do with bad things, I hid Monster. I went to great lengths to avoid stuttering. I substituted words, or just did not talk. I had tricks I used in order to appear fluent. I was known as shy, introverted or quiet. I accepted F’s for projects that required an oral component. I hid Monster from my family, my friends, and the people around me. I woke up every morning hoping this was some kind of nightmare.

Hiding my stutter became a vicious cycle. I was happy that I was able to hide Monster and appear normal. The majority of people did not know about Monster. That is how I wanted it. But as I pushed Monster deeper and deeper inward, the emotions, pain, and struggle pushed outward. I used avoidance and then felt an intense amount of guilt. Or, I would be in a situation I couldn’t avoid and have a multiple second (or multiple minute) block, and afterwards feel an intense amount of shame. I would never acknowledge what happened.

Monster won. I became a voice trapped. I remember vividly one day on a skiing trip with my family:

The bright, yellow sun fell, and the silver moonlight rose. Darkness soon surrounded me. I’m skiing slowly down the snow-covered hill. I’m a cautious skier, looking out at everyone and everything around me for danger, just like I live my life. It’s quiet. All I hear are the owls howling and my skis carving the snow. My thoughts turn to my future. How am I going to get through my Bat Mitzvah? How can I accomplish anything in my life if I can’t communicate? I think about my recurring dream. The dream where I’m stuck on the steps, screaming to my family, but nothing comes out.

It wasn’t until my second year of college, 2011, when I decided to take action. I picked up a book that I had bought several years prior called, Redefining Stuttering by John Harrison. I saw that he offered therapy services over Skype, so I contacted him. We began Skyping just a couple weeks later. Although he is not a speech-language pathologist, John Harrison made me realize a lot about my speech and where these blocks were coming from. However, I knew I needed more. I realized that I wasn’t only hiding my voice; I was hiding who I was.

John Harrison recommended the Successful Stuttering Management Program (SSMP), a three-week intensive therapy program. Four months, a scholarship, and a trip across the country later, I was beginning my journey.

It was a terrifying but rewarding experience. Here, I confronted Monster head on. I learned that I would always be a person who stutters (PWS). Although I can’t change that part of me, I can change how I manage my stuttering. Instead of trying to hide it and pass as fluent, I had to stutter openly and embrace Monster. The SSMP changed my life. It taught me courage.

At the end of the program, we were all sent home with maintenance plans. On my maintenance plan, it was recommended that I get involved with the National Stuttering Association (NSA). I looked up where the closest chapter was from me, and realized it was an hour away. So, I started a chapter at my college. Since then, I have been featured on the local news, on StutterTalk podcasts, and was a recipient of the Virginia Legend award all because of my stuttering.

I have attended four NSA conferences and have met hundreds of other people who stutter who continue to inspire me. I have been involved with NSA chapters everywhere I have lived. There is something so special about having a community of people anywhere you go who just “get it.” I owe a huge part of who I have become to the NSA.

I attend Stutter Social via Google Hangouts weekly. My Sundays are never complete without it. Annie Bradberry, Heather Najman, and Pam Mertz have served as mentors to me and have inspired me to serve as a mentor to others.

No longer do I wake up hoping that Monster was just a nightmare. Today, I wake up thanking my lucky stars for my stuttering. I think about the beautiful community and network that I am part of because of my stutter. It truly amazes me.

It was not easy getting to this point. It has taken a long time for me to get from the “should” to the “I am going to do this.” There was a long time where my thought process was, I know this is important; this will help me feel comfortable about my stuttering and help alleviate the shame. I should go into this situation and advertise and talk about my stuttering. In the past few weeks, I’ve had a huge change in my thoughts. Now, instead of thinking that I SHOULD be doing this, it’s changed into, I WANT to do this. I enjoy talking about stuttering and letting people see the real me.

It’s not about fluency, but rather about effective communication. I was recently told by my former boss, “I am very impressed with how you interact with customers. You have a speech impediment and you have far better customer service than my employees who don’t stutter. That’s just something you can’t teach.”

I have done things these past four years that I couldn’t imagine I would ever do with a stutter. I love talking. I love interacting with people. I love public speaking. Wait, did I just say that? Shy, introverted, or quiet no longer describe me. I am outgoing, confident, and brave. These are the parts of my personality that I allowed Monster to suppress.

All the pain, difficulty, and tough times that stuttering caused me gave me power. When we get rid of the demons, the struggles, and the hard times, we also get rid of the hope, the inspiration, the courage, and all the qualities that make us who we are.

Stuttering me is the real me. I embrace it as a huge part of my identity. Thanks to Monster, my parents, the SSMP, the NSA, and an amazing speech-language pathologist, friend, and mentor Katie Gore, I have found my passion. Two years and a career shift later, I am pursuing a masters at the University of Maryland to become a speech-language pathologist so I can give back what was given to me. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that the monster that haunted me for years would be the fuel that ignited my passion.

“I challenge you to find what it is that you are really ashamed of and bring it out into the open. I challenge you to figure out what it is that you really want to do and do it, here and now. I challenge you to reframe your fear and turn it inside out from shame for yourself into action for others and spread the word.” –Leana Wen

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Comments

The Real Me — 97 Comments

  1. Thank you Courtney for sharing your experiences! I too am a big fan of John’s work. I am the parent to a 19-year old who stutters and a parent advocate. I love when you say “I love talking!” By the time our son was nine, he was most often choosing silence over speech tools or risking speech errors. It was heartbreaking. We spent the next 10 years unearthing his voice. I share our journey in my book “Voice Unearthed: Hope, Help, and a Wake-Up Call for the Parents of Children Who Stutter.” I also have a wonderful Facebook group (Voice Unearthed) and you would be welcomed to join – your insights and experiences are so valuable to parents who are dealing with a stuttering child. Thanks again and best of luck to you (I don’t think you’ll need much luck…)

    • Hi Doreen,

      Thank you for the kind comments. Your book sounds like a valuable resource for parents and SLP’s. Thank you for what you do. We need more of you!

      Courtney

  2. Hi Courtney!
    I am pursuing my master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology as well, and I absolutely loved reading your paper about overcoming your Monster! This was truly inspiring because I am a big proponent of being true to yourself no matter what that may entitle.
    I read another paper on here that basically said the same thing about how you should embrace your disfluency and not try to hide it. My desire throughout my future career when I work with people who stutter, is to make them confident that they are an individual apart from their disfluency, and they should never be tied down to their disfluency. However, all the while I want to encourage them to embrace it and not feel ashamed.
    Most stories I have heard of people who stutter have received therapy to lessen their disfluency. My question is how do you personally balance the idea of accepting/embracing the disfluency but also treating the disfluency? I feel that this could be confusing to some because people may see this as two completely different things. I believe that a person must first accept who they are or a difficulty they have before any success may happen, but what are your thoughts about this?
    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I also admire how involved you are in these organizations and groups.
    Roxanne

    • Hi Roxanne,

      Thank you! And thank you for coming on as an SLP wanting to learn more about stuttering. That is so important.

      Excellent question. One that has been hotly debated in the stuttering community. I would suggest going to the ask the expert page to propose that question. You’ll probably get some great responses.

      Personally, I will say this – I believe that acceptance is a critical part of treatment. In my opinion, no treatment for stuttering should just focus on “treating the disfluency.” This is only treating the overt symptoms, without paying attention to the attitudes, emotions, thoughts, avoidances, shame, guilt, fear, etc. etc. Also, one can accept stuttering and still be attending therapy. There are a lot of things that therapy can help with like eliminating secondaries and changing the way that you stutter into an easy, more forward moving way. At SSMP, the first 2 weeks were focused on accepting and desensitizing, while the last week focused strictly on techniques for easier stuttering. This is called stuttering modification, but there are lots of different treatment approaches to stuttering out there.

      • Thank you so much for responding, and I completely agree! I am also of the belief that the attitudes, emotions, etc. are of utmost importance, and they should be addressed first so I liked that at SSMP, the first two weeks were devoted to acceptance.
        I have heard so much about how the person is an individual and their disfluency does not define them so at first when you said you “embrace it as a huge part of your identity”, I was slightly confused, but I understand now exactly what you mean!

  3. Thank you for sharing your experiences with stuttering! your story is very inspiring. I love how you are embracing your stutter and excelling in life. What made you pick up that book after buying it so many years prior? Were you introduced to therapy within your college years that made you want to take action?

    • Hi Amyjean,

      Thank you for reading. For the sake of word count, I had to leave some things out. But I can put them here, yay!

      My only experience with speech therapy prior to SSMP was when I was 12 right before my Bat Mitzvah. The SLP took a speech sample by asking me to say my name, address, and other identifying information. At the end, she gave me some breathing techniques and admitted that she didn’t know what was wrong with me. I saw a psychologist throughout high school and in my first year of college.

      When I bought the book, I read it from cover to cover and did all the exercises that John recommended. I gave it to my psychologist to look at and we did everything, but nothing seemed to help. I just wanted to be fluent. Looking back, I was not ready for self-help.

      I picked up the book again after an emotional therapy session years later. After ringing me up for the cost of the session, my psychologist’s wife, the secretary, looked at me with pitiful eyes and said, “I am so sorry that you have to live like this.” On the way home that day my whole life flashed before me and I started crying. I could barely see the road through my tears and I didn’t even care if I crashed the car. When I got home, I ran into my mom’s arms and told her that I can’t live like this anymore. That’s when we decided to begin to Skype John Harrison (you have to remember that, at that time, he was my only tie to the stuttering world).

  4. Thank you for your testimony, Courtney, and congratulations for your wish to become SLP. In USA, there is a long list of stuttering experts who were persons who stutter. I translated in french the book “Advice to those who stutter” where 28 specialists of stuttering who stuttered themselves share their experience.
    In France, it’s very hard to become SLP when you stutter and I know some people who had to hide their stuttering in order to pass their exam. Do you still have stuttering moments and how do you deal with them ? How do react your teachers ?
    Laurent

    • Hi Laurent,

      Thank you.

      That’s a great book. Big feat – kudos.

      I definitely still have moments of disfluency. Sometimes a lot and sometimes not many at all. Just depends on the situation. However, I have reframed my outlook on my stuttering. As long as I am saying what I want to say when I want to say it, that is a success. Also, my stuttering pattern has changed significantly in the past couple years. Overall, it is becoming “easier” to stutter. There’s less struggle.

      I am at a “stutter friendly” school, so it’s been wonderful overall. I stutter in classes, in therapy sessions, and it is ok. So, it’s hard for me to be objective on this issue. I know a lot of PWS SLP’s who, while in grad school encountered discrimination and hardship.

      Courtney

  5. Courtney,

    Your story is extremely inspiring! I am also on a journey of becoming an SLP, learning about individuals who have experiencing stuttering as a part of their lives.
    I wonder through reading your story, at what point did you begin feeling like not being able to communicate with your words was affecting your life so much that you felt the need to take action? Also, did you ever have signs of the stuttering before the first instance you noticed it occurred?

    Again, your story is amazing! And good luck on your journey in grad school!
    Gabriella Ohanessian

    • Hi Gabriella,

      Thank you so much! I love that you are reading these stories as an SLP wanting to learn more. That is fantastic.

      To answer your first question, I posted a response about that above to Amyjean. I’ll post it again in a regular comment so that it’s easily visible to all. I realize that I should have included why I picked up John Harrison’s book again. So please see below.

      For sake of word count, I couldn’t include everything. I first noticed my stuttering when I was in 1st grade. However, I was re-watching home videos a couple years ago and noticed some mild silent blocks while I was talking at my kindergarten graduation. I have a whole ton of stories relating to stuttering, I just included that experience because that was when I googled things and found out that I stuttered, and because it was especially traumatic.

      Courtney

  6. ALL: I realize there are some missing pieces here, so I’ll clarify some FAQ’s:

    Was this the first instance that you noticed it occurred?

    No! The first time I remember “not being able to get my words out” (as I called it) was in 1st grade when we had to go around the circle and recite lines from an Indian pow wow. However, I recently re-watched home videos and I noticed some mild silent blocks while I was talking at my kindergarten graduation. My mom informed me that at 2, I began to ask for things I wanted by pointing to the object and saying, “uh, uh, uh”. My mom began to say to me, “What do you want? Tell us!” and eventually I did. I always got stuck on my words, having long silent blocks and I didn’t know why. It never occurred to me that it could be stuttering. There was very little media representation about stuttering, and what there was of it portrayed stuttering as repetitions of a sound.

    Did you have speech therapy prior to the Successful Stuttering Management Program?

    My only experience with speech therapy prior to SSMP was when I was 12 right before my Bat Mitzvah. The SLP took a speech sample by asking me to say my name, address, and other identifying information. At the end, she gave me some breathing techniques and admitted that she didn’t know what was wrong with me. I saw a psychologist throughout high school and in my first year of college.

    Why did you decide to pick up the book again after so many years?

    When I bought the book, I read it from cover to cover and did all the exercises that John recommended. I gave it to my psychologist to look at and we did everything, but nothing seemed to help. I just wanted to be fluent. Looking back, I was not ready for self-help.
    I picked up the book again after an emotional therapy session years later. After ringing me up for the cost of the session, my psychologist’s wife, the secretary, looked at me with pitiful eyes and said, “I am so sorry that you have to live like this.” On the way home that day my whole life flashed before me and I started crying. I could barely see the road through my tears and I didn’t even care if I crashed the car. When I got home, I ran into my mom’s arms and told her that I can’t live like this anymore. That’s when we decided to begin to Skype John Harrison (you have to remember that, at that time, he was my only tie to the stuttering world).

    Thank you for the excellent questions! Please keep them coming – I’m happy to answer.

    Courtney

  7. Courtney,
    Thank you for being open about your story and inspiring others. I appreciate that you recognize that we all have “Monsters” and that you use your experience to explain the importance of being transparent with society. I enjoyed your pitch about effective communication and that you recognize that having a stutter does not get in the way of this. Do people react to your stutter differently now that you openly stutter? I found that anxiety is a common feeling in PWS. Has your fluency gotten better now that you identify with your stutter and feel more at peace? Thanks again for sharing your story.

    • Hi there,

      Thank you for your kind comments and thanks for reading! It’s so important to be open with people. Everyone is battling something. The more you open yourself up to others, the more comfortable people will feel opening up to you. This creates a beautiful environment full of love and empathy.

      I’ve gotten mixed reactions since I’ve decided to “come out of the closet” per say. In general, people are curious and want to know more. Also, many of my childhood friends noticed that something was wrong. They were relieved to find out that this something had a name. I have to say, it was weird for my family and friends when I came back from SSMP stuttering more. But it just took a little explaining about the therapy approach, the avoidances, and the extent that stuttering was impacting my life. Therapy is complicated with covert stuttering.

      As I said to one of the above comments, my fluency has most definitely increased just from accepting, embracing, and being open about my stuttering. I still stutter, but my disfluencies are a lot less severe and struggled. My stuttering pattern has changed significantly, I no longer avoid situations or words, and a lot of my secondaries have gone away.

      Courtney

  8. Courtney, I loved reading your story and found it incredibly interesting. Naming your stutter “Monster” made it feel as though I could relate to you. I think we all have some sort of monster that we deal with and may even try to hide. I was reading your FAQ and as someone who is also studding speech pathology I found it very sad that the speech pathologist told you she did not know what was wrong with you. I can imagine that that statement in itself at 12 years old could really make you feel isolated and alone. I was wondering if you want to primarily with PWS after graduate school or if other aspects of speech pathology interest you?

    • Hi Geena,

      Thank you. Yes, everyone has their monster.

      When the SLP said that, I felt like a broken piece of machinery that couldn’t be fixed. It was very painful and contributed to many of my avoidances.

      I love the stuttering community and yes, going into this program, I was fairly certain that I wanted to work specifically with PWS, but I am loving the program so far – all aspects of it. Although I will probably end up working with stuttering (I want to do a PhD), there are so many disorders and populations to work with. It’s amazing. I’m keeping an open mind and right now just taking everything in.

      Good luck with your speech pathology studies.

      Courtney

  9. Bravo, Courtney! Loved your paper. This stuttering thing is really the journey of a lifetime, isn’t it? But we wouldn’t be who we are without it. Anyway, I want to thank you for writing this. You are a great writer.

  10. Wow, what a powerful story! I am also a graduate clinician in speech-language pathology at Idaho State University and have had the pleasure of working with some school-aged children who stutter. I have to say that I have not been impacted as much with other clients as I have with these children. They all face issues in their personal and academic lives contributed to their stutter that we discussed in therapy. I thought that you did an amazing job of describing the emotions you felt and the challenges that you faced on a daily basis as a PWS. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Natalie Schulz

    • Thank you Natalie! That’s so great that you had exposure to children who stutter. It’s so different than any other speech or language disorder. Are you working under Dan Hudock? He was one of my clinicians at SSMP 🙂

      Courtney

  11. Hi Courtney,

    Amazing article! I am also a SLP graduate student, and reading your article has given me great insight on the journey PWS travel. As a future SLP yourself, do you have any regrets about not seeking assistance with your stutter until you were in college? Also what were some aspects of your management plan that you personally found helped you the most?

    Thanks for sharing,

    Shannon Cassidy

    • Hi Shannon,

      Thank you!

      I did go to an SLP when I was 12 right before my Bat Mitzvah. See above comments where I clarified some missing pieces of the story. I do not have regrets about not seeking more therapy before SSMP. At that time (in the 90’s and early 2000’s) stuttering therapy was a lot of fluency shaping and not acceptance and reducing the negative thoughts and emotions. At that time, that was what I needed. I think fluency shaping would have negatively impacted me. Just one session going to an SLP who just gave me some breathing techniques to work on – crushed me, because they didn’t work.

      I still have a virtual maintenance plan in my head. Every day I work to do something I fear – like presenting in class, calling a friend that I usually text, stuttering “ugly” to a stranger etc etc. So, the part of my maintenance plan that I found helpful was that it was never ending. It’s a life long journey.

      Hope that answers your questions.

      Courtney

  12. Courtney,

    Thank you for being brave enough to share your first experience of when your stuttering began. Given the vivid details not only inside of your mind but also by your peers must be a difficult thing to relive. To come all the way from hiding your stutter from your family and friends to openly starting a chapter of the National Stuttering Association at the college you were in attendance to takes courage, while helping yourself overcome your fears of Monster I am sure you were able to help individuals just like yourself cope with the fear of stuttering. Embracing imperfections is empowering and the way people receive you as a person, as you have described here, says a lot about the helpful, confident women you seem to have become because of your stutter.
    I hope you continue to inspire others to find their inner strength just like you did for yourself.
    -Becca

    • Hi Becca,

      Thank you for such kind comments.

      And just for clarification: this was not when my stuttering began. Sorry if that was not clear. I just included this experience because I think it portrays the experience of stuttering well. See above comment where I clarified some missing pieces of the story. I’ll post it again below so it’s more visible.

      Courtney

  13. Repost from my earlier comment:

    I realize there are some missing pieces here, so I’ll clarify some FAQ’s:

    Was this the first instance that you noticed it occurred?
    No! The first time I remember “not being able to get my words out” (as I called it) was in 1st grade when we had to go around the circle and recite lines from an Indian pow wow. However, I recently re-watched home videos and I noticed some mild silent blocks while I was talking at my kindergarten graduation. My mom informed me that at 2, I began to ask for things I wanted by pointing to the object and saying, “uh, uh, uh”. My mom began to say to me, “What do you want? Tell us!” and eventually I did. I always got stuck on my words, having long silent blocks and I didn’t know why. It never occurred to me that it could be stuttering. There was very little media representation about stuttering, and what there was of it portrayed stuttering as repetitions of a sound.

    Did you have speech therapy prior to the Successful Stuttering Management Program?
    My only experience with speech therapy prior to SSMP was when I was 12 right before my Bat Mitzvah. The SLP took a speech sample by asking me to say my name, address, and other identifying information. At the end, she gave me some breathing techniques and admitted that she didn’t know what was wrong with me. I saw a psychologist throughout high school and in my first year of college.

    Why did you decide to pick up the book again after so many years?
    When I bought the book, I read it from cover to cover and did all the exercises that John recommended. I gave it to my psychologist to look at and we did everything, but nothing seemed to help. I just wanted to be fluent. Looking back, I was not ready for self-help.
    I picked up the book again after an emotional therapy session years later. After ringing me up for the cost of the session, my psychologist’s wife, the secretary, looked at me with pitiful eyes and said, “I am so sorry that you have to live like this.” On the way home that day my whole life flashed before me and I started crying. I could barely see the road through my tears and I didn’t even care if I crashed the car. When I got home, I ran into my mom’s arms and told her that I can’t live like this anymore. That’s when we decided to begin to Skype John Harrison (you have to remember that, at that time, he was my only tie to the stuttering world).

    Thank you for the excellent questions! Please keep them coming – I’m happy to answer.

    Courtney

  14. Wow, what a powerful piece, Courtney. I so admire your courage and self determination and commend you for recognizing that the journey is lifelong. I truly wish I had began my journey when I was closer to your age. I feel like I missed out on a lot of opportunities when I was still covert and fearful.
    It is so exciting to be able to watch your journey from afar, through your Facebook posts and your sharing on Stutter Social. Thanks for letting us get to know the real you. You are an inspiration. -Pam

    • Thank you so much Pam. YOU are an inspiration. It is sad to think how many opportunities we missed out on as PWS, but at the same time they made us stronger and instilled in us a greater appreciation for life.

  15. Courtney,

    I am also pursuing a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology, and am so glad I was able to read your experiences as you went through school. Hearing about your experiences in school and oral presentations really hit home with me, even as a non-stutterer, I remember similar feelings of doing almost anything to get out of oral presentations including suffering grades as well. The things we fear and are anxious about can only be overcome when we face them and become comfortable with them.

    My questions is, in light of your success with exposing those fears, what would suggest to children who are unwilling to face those fears and acknowledge their stuttering…do you feel therapy would be as effective?

    Also, do you think your management plan from the intensive program carried over to daily life once you were back?

    Thanks!
    Meredith Abernethy

    • Hi Meredith,

      Thank you and thanks for sharing your experiences.

      1. It’s hard to answer that question. I do not know a lot about therapy for children who stutter. That would be a good thing to ask in the ‘Ask the Expert’ tab. Personally, I would say to not force anything on the child. I think forcing acceptance on a child is just as bad as forcing fluency shaping. The key is to make the change come from within. There’s lots of counseling involved, that I know.

      2. My clinicians at SSMP did an excellent job at designing challenges that were applicable to my daily life. I tweaked it some with the help of my mom, but I generally followed it for several weeks after. SSMP really focused on lifestyle changes. What I learned at SSMP has carried over into my daily life. I’ve internalized a lot of things and am aware of what I can be working on. Change is a lifelong journey, especially when it’s changing habits that have been apart of you for 20 years.

      Hope this helps.

      Courtney

  16. Hi Courtney,

    I enjoyed reading your paper so much! You are a gifted writer and provide such an honest account into your life. I am currently a graduate student in speech pathology in north carolina. I am so impressed with your ability to confront your “monster” head on. I agree that it is so important to be open with others. We never know what someone else is going through. I think you will be an excellent clinician your insight will be a light to so many. I have a question for you. Have you found there are environmental factors that affect your fluency? An elementary age client of mine varies greatly on fluency depending on the day. Is this the case for you as well? Do you think that being able to stutter openly affects this as well? Thanks for sharing again! — Rebecca

    • Hi Rebecca,

      Thank you for such kind comments.

      Stuttering is a variable disorder. I’ve never met anyone who stutters with the exact same frequency or duration in every situation. That’s the enigma of it.

      The factors that affect fluency differ for every person. For me, there are situations like talking to people of authority, making small talk, and interacting with a group of people that I don’t know that well that tend to bring out more disfluency. There are also certain people that I stutter more with and others that I stutter less with. I could go on and on, but it is very interesting how my stuttering severity can change in an instant depending on who I’m interacting with. Also, for me, there are internal factors like fatigue and stress that bring on more disfluency.

      Could you clarify your last question? I’m not clear on what you’re asking.

      Thanks!
      Courtney

  17. Hello Courtney,

    I hope this message finds you well. Your story is very interesting and your future as an SLP is very bright. I enjoyed reading your well written story and your comments to others. Your story provides negative emotions and feelings associated with stuttering that the majority of our society does not understand. I am amazed by your story of triumph by overcoming your internal struggle to which you call your monster. Also, I am inspired to hear that you continue to manage a program for your dysfluencies and secondary behaviors.

    As a future speech clinician, I am always interested in learning and involving myself with people who have been diagnosed with communicative disorders. To that end, I have attended a NSA meeting, and I have found the meeting to be very educational and eye-opening. I met various people who stutter who came from different walks of life, and they shared their positive and negative experiences with everyone at the meeting.

    At the NSA meeting, I did not get the chance to ask them a question because none of the members were speech clinicians. But I hope you can answer the question. How would you make dysfluencies fun and positive, rather than negative for a child? Also, what is your secret in maintaining a successful fluency therapy plan for yourself?

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. Best wishes.

    –Rudy Delgado

    • Hi Rudy,

      Thank you very much.

      That’s great that you attended an NSA meeting. I’m sure you learned a lot.

      1. That’s a hard question. I’m not sure that disfluencies can ever really be “fun” but they certainly don’t have to be full of struggle and emotion. I still have negative thoughts when I’m in a block. The key is to acknowledge the thoughts, allow yourself to feel them, and move on. The more I do this, the more desensitized I am to my stuttering.

      2. To me, working on your stuttering is a journey. I’m not on a formal maintenance plan, but I recognize when there is a feared situation and when I should push on the gas and go. It’s about constantly challenging yourself. The more challenges and successes you have, the less of a monster stuttering becomes because YOU gain control over it. I call people when I could text them, I carry on a conversation for longer than I have to, I ask questions in class even though I know I’ll have a long block, I approach situations instead of avoiding them, etc. etc.

      Hope this helps.

      Good luck with your journey on becoming an SLP. Keep learning and exposing yourself to different populations. That’s a wonderful thing.

      Courtney

  18. Courtney,
    Thank you for sharing your story! It is inspiring to hear about how your “monster” changed your life in such a positive way. I think it’s so great that you are pursuing a career in speech pathology. How do you think joining social groups changed your perspective on stuttering?

    • Hi there,

      Thank you.

      Great question. Being apart of self-help groups is a huge part of the acceptance piece for me. They remind me that I’m not alone and that it’s okay to stutter. To me, it extends beyond NSA meetings. We have an NSA 20 somethings Facebook group, a “stuttering challenge” Facebook group created by one of my friends, and personally, I have lots of Facebook message groups and texting threads to stay connected with my stuttering friends. It’s so beneficial to be able to reach out to someone else who stutters when I’ve had a difficult day and just need to vent. I know they will understand. We are able to laugh about stuttering experiences and make light of it. To me, this is as important as therapy.

      Courtney

  19. Hi Courtney,

    Your story is very remarkable I find it amazing that you decided to pursue a field in speech-language pathology even with a stutter. I am a graduate student studying speech-language pathology as well. What is your plan when becoming an SLP and treating others? Would you like to work with other stutterers as well or is there another area or area(s) you have in mind? Thanks for sharing such a positive personal story!

    Jessica

    • Hi Jessica,

      Thank you!

      Going into this, I knew that I wanted to work with PWS. I still do, but graduate school is opening my eyes up to many very interesting disorders and populations. I’m keeping my options open right now, but PWS will always have a special place in my heart. I hope one day I can open up a private practice for people who stutter.

      Courtney

  20. Hi Courtney,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us. It’s interesting that you refer to your stutter as a Monster and then describe your acceptance of it, revealing the real you!

    I’m training to be a Speech and Language Therapist in the UK. I hope the work we do will be as valuable to others as your experience of SLP was for you. All the best with the rest of your degree.

    Farah

    • Thank you, Farah! Good luck with your degree as well. Thanks for reading.

      Courtney

  21. Thank you for the inspiring story your shared with us. It is important to realize over and over again that it is alright to live with “Monsters” but it is even more important to face them and challenge them.
    I am pursuing a degree in Speech Language Pathology. I entered the program despite being a speaker of English as a second language. Since I learned English as a teenager in my native country I speak and will speak with an accent. This is my little “Monster”, very often when people start talking with me, the conversation is: “Oh, you speak with an accent, where are you from?”. I know this can hardly compare to struggles with stuttering, but for me it is something I need to face and accept as just being me, just like you “the real me”.
    I liked what you said that we cannot hide things but instead face them and allow others to face them with us and understand them better through our experience.
    Izabela

    • Thank you for sharing your relatable experience of speaking with an accent. I believe that we all live with our own Monster. The courage comes out when we dare to let out our demons.

      Courtney

  22. Hello Courtney!

    I am also currently in a speech language pathology masters program! I really enjoyed reading your post and hearing about your passion for speech language pathology in your initial post and through your answers to others’ questions. My question for you is as a future speech language pathologist what do you think is the most important aspect of working with a person who stutters? Additionally, is there anything from attending speech therapy as a child who stuttered that you know you will do differently than your previous speech therapist did? Any personal insights on how to become the best possible clinician for my clients who stutter is greatly appreciated!

    Best of luck to you in your program!
    Alex

    • Hi Alex,

      Thank you for reading. Those are difficult, but great, questions. I will answer based on my personal experiences, but every person’s answer will be different.

      1. I think the most important aspect of working with a person who stutters is recognizing their individuality. There are many treatment options out there for a reason – one size does not fit all. Recognizing your client’s motivation and goals is so important. Be careful not to push anything on anybody – it has to come from within or there will be no long term change. Also, please don’t ever just focus on the fluency. What you see on the outside is not representative of the disorder. See Sheehan’s iceberg http://www.stutteringhelp.org/blog/sheehan-stuttering-analogy

      2. Everything. I was appalled at the SLP that I saw when I was 12. I hope no SLP today ever treats a client like that. Seeing your client as an individual and not just as a disorder is such an easy concept, but yet so often forgotten.

      3. Educate yourself. EBP is huge. Know what treatments work and which ones don’t. Don’t fall for approaches that promise 100% fluency. You’ll have more luck asking your client to fly. Listen to what your client is telling you. Acceptance and desensitization are two crucial pieces. Encourage your client to get involved with self-help groups. Understand that what you are asking them to do is hard and takes courage.

      Hope this helps. Thanks for the great questions.

      Courtney

  23. Hi Courtney,

    I really enjoyed reading your story and appreciate your openness. I feel you can replace the “Monster” with other personal struggles, finding it to be relatable even to people who don’t stutter. I’m sorry if someone has already asked this question, I tried to read through the comments to avoid that happening, but I was wondering what the SSMP program looks like. I read that you all come home with maintenance plans, how do you go about developing your maintenance plan and what goes into creating that plan?

    Good luck with graduate school!
    Liz

    • Hi Liz,

      Thank you. Yes, everyone has their monster that they deal with. The key is finding the courage to come out with it.

      The SSMP is a 3 week intensive program, based a lot on Van Riper’s work on stuttering modification. It is 3 weeks, from morning to night, of intense therapy. The first week or so, is focused on acceptance, desensitization, and advertising your stuttering. The second week is when we got into changing HOW we stutter. The first part was to get rid of any secondary behaviors. Only after we had “raw” stuttering, in the last week, did we begin to use techniques such as prolongations, pull outs, and cancellations. I must admit, I don’t use any of these techniques, but what I learned in those first 2 weeks were invaluable.

      My clinicians developed my maintenance plan the last week. Although I didn’t have a say in what it entailed, they got to know me very well and developed assignments based on what they thought was best. The clinicians are graduate students from around the country who work under the supervision of Dorv Breidenfelt, the founder, and other SLPs who help run the program.

      Does that answer your question?

      Thanks again for reading.

      Courtney

  24. Thank you so much Courtney for this wonderful article. I really liked your idea of calling stuttering “monster”. Your story is really inspirational and I am happy to hear that you had such a great experience with SSMP and the involvement in the NSA. What exactly about the NSA meetings has been helpful? As a future SLP, I would like to know how I can provide a better environment for clients and help them open up?
    You also talk about effective communication, rather than fluency. What is your approach on making communication effective?

    • Hi Cristina,

      Thank you.

      1. For me, NSA meetings provide an environment of acceptance and anti-judgment. It’s a place where I can talk freely about stuttering and know that everyone there understands. It’s also a fun environment, a place where stuttering doesn’t have to be so serious. Also, we talk about interesting topics that you don’t get to talk about anywhere else. Quite honestly, the environment of the NSA cannot be put into words.

      2. That’s a good question and everyone will have a different answer. For me, it’s the ability to say what I want to say when I want to say it and how I want to say it. It’s being able to convey your message in an effective way, whether this is being understood, having appropriate intonation, etc. etc. Eye contact is also huge. Some of the best communicators I know are people who stutter.

      Courtney

  25. Hi Courtney,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with your “Monster.” I am also pursuing a graduate degree in speech-language pathology. I think it is amazing that you have made a career switch to help others who stutter. As a person who stutters and a future SLP, what will be the most important advice you give to your future clients who also stutter?

    Thanks,
    Chelsea

    • Hi Chelsea,

      Thank you.

      If I had to pick just one piece of advice it would be “it’s okay to stutter.” Those 4 words have made all the difference in my life.

      Best of luck with your studies and future career!

      Courtney

  26. Hi Courtney,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I was very inspired by your journey! As a future SLP I was wondering what could be done in the school system to advocate for PWS especially now when bullying has grown to be a major issue?

    Thank you,
    Gittel

    • Hi Gittel,

      Thank you!

      Hmm, that’s a hard question for me to answer. I would say more awareness on the teachers and students end. I would check out the Stuttering Foundation for more specific information and resources. http://www.stutteringhelp.org/

      Courtney

  27. Your story is wonderful and inspirational. Thank you for sharing it. I am so glad you found your voice, as you have so much to say that is worthwhile.As someone who is a very new SLP student, stories like yours and those of the other contributors provide an immensely rich source of information alongside all the classroom based learning. Thank you again.

  28. Courtney,

    I just wanted to say that you are such a brave individual for opening up and sharing your story. Like you, there are so many other individuals out there that feel like they are suppressing who they really are. You story is inspiring and can apply to all aspects of life, not just to stuttering. When a person fears something and hides it or avoids it, the fear has all of the control. However, embracing the situation and facing the fear puts the control and the power back in the person’s hands. It is important to know that we can be in control by simply changing out outlook on things. Having a positive perspective is so much more powerful than focusing on the negative. Positivity fosters growth and empowerment. I am so glad that you were able to change your way of thinking and that you are proud of showing the world the “real” you.

    • Thank you so much for your kind comments. All so true. You are very wise. Thanks for reading.

      Courtney

  29. Hi Courtney!
    Thank you for sharing your experience and providing insight into what it is like to be a person that stutters! Recently I read an inspiring story in Stutter Talk Publication No. 1. The paper is entitled “Passing as Fluent” and was written by Sara MacIntyre. In this paper, Ms. MacIntyre also discussed what it is like to be a person who stutters and the great lengths that she went through to hide the fact that she stuttered from her family and friends. Like you, she eventually was able to identify as someone who stutters. I found the similarities between her story and yours to be very similar. Since you have participated in StutterTalk podcasts you may already be familiar with Ms. MacIntyre’s story. If not, you might find it interesting to read her story! Like you, she is “giving back what was given” to her by serving others as a speech-language pathologist. I thank you for encouraging others to embrace who they are and providing others with hope that they can overcome any hardship that they may be facing!

    • Hi Rachel,

      Yes, I know Sara MacIntyre and she is doing wonderful things at AIS. Truly changing the lives of so many people who stutter. She is an inspiration to me.

      Courtney

  30. Hi Courtney!
    Thank you for sharing your experience and providing insight into what it is like to be a person who stutters! Recently I read an inspiring story in Stutter Talk Publication No. 1. The paper is entitled “Passing as Fluent” and was written by Sara MacIntyre. In this paper, Ms. MacIntyre also discussed what it is like to be a person who stutters and the great lengths that she went to to hide the fact that she stuttered from her family and friends. Like you, she eventually was able to identify as someone who stutters. I found her experiences to be very similar to your experiences. Since you have participated in StutterTalk podcasts you may already be familiar with Ms. MacIntyre’s story. If not, you might find it interesting to read her story! Like you, she is “giving back what was given” to her by serving others as a speech-language pathologist. I thank you for encouraging others to embrace who they are and providing others with hope that they can overcome any hardship that they may be facing.

  31. Hi Courtney!

    Your story is inspiring and very refreshing to read. As many other commenters, I am also a speech-language pathology graduate student. Recently in our Stuttering course, a speech-language pathologist who is also a PWS came to speak to our class. After hearing her experiences and reading about yours – and knowing we are all in the field of SLP – I am curious, if you could write a letter to your former self, what would you say about your stuttering and feelings? I am also curious if your family has any recollection of your elementary, middle, or high school teachers contacting them about your stuttering? I noticed that you mentioned you had many silent blocks, so do you think your stuttering was just not as noticeable to your teachers at the time, or do you think the reason you learned about stuttering so late in life was due to it being not very well known? Thank you so much!

    Savannah, Illinois State University

    • Hi Savannah,

      Thank you for the great questions.

      1. My first thought was that I would want to tell myself to just be open about stuttering. However, I was in no way ready for that at the time. I wasn’t ready until I took action. It’s easy to say, ‘I should have done this. I should have thought that.’ etc.

      2. Not at all. It’s very strange and definitely a missing piece to my story. A lot of my elementary school teachers live in my neighborhood and I run into them a lot when I’m home. None of them knew I stuttered. I’m not sure about my middle school or high school teachers, but none contacted my parents.

      3. The reason I didn’t know that I was stuttering was because to me, stuttering was repetitions. I just knew I couldn’t get the word out. My mom told me my thoughts were racing faster than my speech. Honestly, I had no idea what was wrong with me until I googled things that one day.

      Courtney

  32. Hi Courtney,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your inspirational story. You have come an incredibly long way since that High School incident back in 2006. I visualized you as a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis – to spread your wings and become the “real you”.

    Living a safe and predictable life denies us opportunities to discover just how courageous and extraordinary we are. We gain strength and confidence each time we look fear in the face.

    Like you, I have discovered that when we challenge our restrictive beliefs and self-image, it really is possible to participate fully on life’s stage. The only limitations are those that we impose upon ourselves.

    Courtney, I wish you every success with your studies, as well as your career as a speech-language pathologist. The insight you have gained (as a result of your own experiences of stuttering) will prove invaluable when you come to deal with your future clients.

    Kindest regards

    Alan Badmington

    • Hi Alan,

      Thank you so much.

      Yes, all true.

      Actually, one of your papers came up when I was googling things that day. That’s how I came across John Harrison. I remember printing your paper out, showing it to my parents, and saying “There’s someone else out there in the world like me.” It was life changing for me. So thank you.

      Courtney

      • Hi Courtney,

        I’m delighted that you found my online article of value when you were initially searching for information about your communication issues.

        The Internet has revolutionised the lives of many PWS by facilitating the dissemination of a wide array of information about stuttering, as well as affording opportunities to communicate with other PWS around the world.

        Reading about the lives of other PWS can provide an interesting insight into how they deal (or have dealt) with their respective difficulties, as well as offering reciprocal inspiration. It can also alert us to possibilities of which we were previously unaware – in relation to therapies, techniques and opportunities that allow us to unearth our true potential when we are prepared to expose ourselves to uncertainty and change. In effect, it can open our eyes to possibilities that we could never have imagined. As a result, many of us now possess a far greater understanding of the issues that shape our lives.

        We are also better informed about how we (and others) react to the diverse challenges that confront us – and have discovered that there are exciting and fulfilling paths available for us to tread (should we so wish). But, perhaps, most importantly, we know that we need never again experience the isolation of walking those paths alone.

        Keep treading those unfamiliar paths and following your dreams.

        Kindest regards

        Alan

        PS There is no need to respond to this follow up post.

  33. Thank you for sharing your story! It seems with each new generation kids are getting meaner and meaner in the schools; it saddens me to hear of not only the anxiety PWS put on themselves, but the negative reactions they get from not only their classmates but also their teachers! You said you would receive F’s on school projects just to avoid having to speak in front of your classmates. Did any of your teachers ever ask why? Did you experience any type of counseling during high school to help, or did your teachers and supervisors just allow you to sink?
    It is wonderful that you are able to attend school to further your education and allow you to help others who stutter (among many other speech and language needs!!). I am also a graduate student looking forward to a rewarding career!
    Dana

    • Hi Dana,

      Thank you for reading.

      Yes, my teachers would always ask why. I said, “I am terrified of public speaking.” They accepted it, but warned me that I would get an F on the oral component of the project.

      I was going to a psychologist throughout high school. It helped me deal with the negative emotions I was experiencing, but I just wanted to be fluent.

      Good luck with your studies and your future career!

      Courtney

  34. Courtney,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I am a graduate student in Speech Language Pathology in North Carolina. Your story is very inspiring and empowering, not just concerning stuttering but also facing fears in general. I was wondering what advice you have for me as far as how to treat future clients who stutter? I love the empowering message you have for accepting your stutter and feeling thankful for it and would love to empower my clients the same way. Also, would you recommend the program you participated in to other people who stutter?

    • Hi there,

      Thank you very much.

      I think I’ve answered the first question in the above comments.

      Yes, I would recommend the program, but there are many other therapy options out there. An intensive program is not for everybody. I knew I needed this or I was not going to change. It really depends on the needs and goals of the client. AIS (American Institute for Stuttering) is another intensive program that’s great. There are also many wonderful SLP’s out there who specialize in stuttering that run both individual and group therapy (non-intensive) sessions.

      Hope this helps.

      Courtney

  35. Hi Courtney,
    I was immediately drawn into your story based on your opening story about a fear of public speaking. I too have felt many similar feelings when counting down the minutes until I would be required to give a speech or presentation, and all of these feelings were present without the extra component of being a person who stutters. Reading through your journey to acceptance of stuttering and learning that it was better to not hide Monster from others. Your statement, “When we get rid of the demons, the struggles, and the hard times, we also get rid of the hope, the inspiration, the courage, and all the qualities that make us who we are.” This is a very empowering statement and I hope that as a graduate student studying speech-language pathology I too can embrace all the qualities that make me who I am and help my future clients feel empowered as well.
    Kelly

    • Hi Kelly,

      Thank you so much for reading. I am glad that you were able to relate to it. Everyone has their monster. Good luck with your studies and your future career!

      Courtney

  36. Courtney,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I am also currently attending graduate school to become a speech-language pathologist and am currently taking a fluency course. Not everyone understands just how large of an impact this “Monster” can have on a person’s self-esteem. It was so refreshing and encouraging to hear your story and how you didn’t let your disfluencies continue to control who you are. I am inspired by the changes you have made are making!

    Thank you, again!
    Tayler

  37. Courtney,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I am a first year graduate student who is also pursuing a career in speech language pathology. First off, I cannot believe how your former classmates and teacher acted towards your stutter. Second, you are such a strong individual and you should be so proud of all of your accomplishments. It’s great that you are so empowering and motivated to change the lives of other PWS. Its great to know that your “monster” actually changed you in a positive way and now you are on your way towards becoming an SLP wanting to help other PWS. Again, thanks for sharing and I wish you the best!
    –Kristin

    • Hi Kristin,

      Thank you so much. I am proud of what I have accomplished. There is so much more I want to do, but I look back and smile.

      Courtney

  38. Hi Courtney,

    Thank you for posting about your experience!I am currently a graduate student in Speech Language Pathology at Illinois State University. I was wondering if you remember any teachers in your elementary, junior high, or high school experience that contacted your parents about your stutter or noticed that you were nervous about speaking?
    I love when you write “When we get rid of the demons, the struggles, and the hard times, we also get rid of the hope, the inspiration, the courage, and all the qualities that make us who we are.” It shows that a person doesn’t have to get rid of something they struggle with in order to reach their full potential. Struggles and demons make a person more resilient and adaptable in all sorts of situations. It’s so great that you were able to share your story and inspire others.

    Anna

    • Hi Anna,

      Thank you.

      None of my teachers contacted my parents. I am not sure why. However, I was very good at hiding it (for the most part).

      Yes, the hard times make us resilient and instill in us character and strength. They make us who we are.

      Courtney

  39. Hi Courtney,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I enjoyed reading your experience as a PWS and that you provided insights of how a PWS truly feels. From graduate school, I learned that it is very important to understand the secondary behaviors of those who stutter and help them to accept their stuttering. Also, I really liked how you referred your stuttering as “monster”. And I’m really glad you have found a way to embrace your monster and reveal the real you. Thanks again for sharing. Your story is definitely something I would want to share with my future client who stutters. -Angel

  40. Courtney, I really enjoyed reading about your experience from beginning to end. I can’t imagine how traumatic it must have been to give an oral presentation- especially not knowing what you were experiencing. I”m interested in learning more about this program and am planning on doing some research. Congratulations on pursuing your Masters degree in speech-language pathology. I was wondering if a thesis was required of your program and if it is, are you planning on researching anything involving stuttering?

    • Hi there,

      Thank you.

      In my program, you can either do a capstone paper or a thesis. I will be doing a thesis on stuttering. I would like to combine stuttering and language/cognition/memory. Those are huge topics that I am planning to narrow down by the spring. Thanks for asking!

      Courtney

  41. Hi Courtney,

    I am currently a second year graduate student in speech-language pathology. You will be such a blessing to the field of speech-language pathology! Your story is inspiring, even for those who do not stutter. I love that you said stuttering has given you power. If only we all were brave enough to use hardships in our lives to empower us! The world would be a much better place if others could adopt your courageous way of living. It was truly enlightening to hear about how you have overcome all the negative emotions associated with stuttering and become the amazing person that you are! Keep it up!

    • Hi Krysta,

      Thank you so much! This all means a lot to me.

      Good luck with your career!

      Courtney

  42. Hi Courtney,

    What an amazing story. You are such a brave and inspiring individual and it is awesome that you are sharing your experiences with stuttering, especially since there is so much to be learned about it! I am also pursuing a Master’s degree in speech-language pathology so I have somewhat of an understanding of the characteristics and the lifestyle that comes with stuttering. However, I am finding that most people do not understand and contain a very unrealistic idea of the disorder. Just the other day, I was watching a movie that portrayed a person who stuttered as “unintelligent” and “slow”. You are the perfect example of why this movie’s portrayal of a stuttering could not be any more inaccurate. Please continue to share your story so that we can not only continue to educate those who stutter, but also those who do not.

    Thanks again,
    Katie

    • Hi Katie,

      Thank you so much. Yes, the media has misrepresented stuttering. However, I think it is getting better, starting with the King’s Speech and most recently, the portrayal of Annie Glenn on Astronaut’s Wives Club.

      Good luck with your degree and your future career!

      Courtney

  43. Hi Courtney,

    I love how involved you are! I think it is awesome that embrace stuttering and help others realize how they can be empowering!

    Stefanie

  44. Courtney,

    Thank you for sharing your story. What a great job you have done promoting awareness and advocating for PWS. It seems that facing your “monster” has opened up many personal, educational, and vocational opportunities for you. Good luck and thank you for inspiring us!

    Kaylie

  45. Courtney…I am so glad that you shared your story!
    You have a beautiful way with words, and so much to say. Vulnerability and Showing Up—what Strength! I have so enjoyed getting to know you in recent months, and look forward to that which is to come, both personally and professionally. LYSO! 🙂

  46. Keep being that positive voice. You model that it is possible to recover from being a person who stutters; and still stutter. Proud of you CL!

    • Hi Kim!

      Thank you! I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am now without your support and tremendous encouragement. Thank you for running SSMP. Your dedication has allowed so many people who stutter to find their voice and shine, including mine.

      Courtney

  47. Courtney,

    It’s funny that you say the “monster won”. Everything about your journey says otherwise. Even after the painful feeling of defeat, you showed so much resiliency. You bounced back and turned the monster that once haunted you, into the fuel that ignites your passion. You are every reason that i say ” it isn’t over until it’s over”. While your story has inspired me, I would imagine that it would be that much more inspiring to potential patients you may be working with in the future. Having experienced what your potential clients may be battling at the time of therapy, would likely allow for you to have a much more powerful impact when working with them. Would you agree that encountering and defeating the same “monster” your future patients may be fighting, will be one of the greatest assets you posses in your career? If so, how do you plan on utilizing it?

    • Hi Orly,

      Thank you for such kind words.

      I think it instills a tremendous sense of empathy and understanding. However, not everyone who stutters walks the same path. Our experiences are all different. That also means that what works for me isn’t going to work for everybody. It’s important to not push your belief system on your clients. The irony is that this kind of thinking may take away from actively listening to your clients and gaining a deeper understanding of THEIR experience of stuttering. Everyone has their own story to tell.

      Courtney

  48. Courtney,

    Thanks so much for sharing! I’m sure it was not easy reliving the darker days that you had when calling your stutter “Monster”. It is such an inspiration to everyone who reads this to hear that you have really embraced your stutter. Leana’s quote at the end of the article was a great way to finish it up and resonate with people. Whether one has a stutter or not, that quote is something we can all relate to. I plan on keeping that quote for my future clients. Thanks again and good luck in your future endeavors.

    Kind regards,
    Janine

    • Hi Janine,

      Yes, it was very painful to “re-enter” those experiences. But they are stories that need to be told.

      Yes, I love her story and especially love that TED talk. That quote has always stuck with me and reminds me how important it is to give back.

      Courtney

  49. Courtney,

    You are a bright shinning star and I’m so happy to see you say you are confident and brave. You are. You are a role model to so many fulfilling your dreams with grace and passion. It gives me comfort to know you will soon be treating others who stutter. By your example I know others too will reach for their dreams. You are an inspiration to all who are fortunate to meet you…and I am blessed to call you my friend.

    Always,

    Annie B

    • Hi Annie!

      Such sweet words, as always. You will always have a very special place in my heart.

      Thank you for all you do for the stuttering community. We are truly blessed to have you.

      Courtney