About today’s theme of Friends and Family, I think first of my late mother, who stuttered in childhood. What was it like for her when she first saw me stutter, as a young child? She never told me.
This was the early 1960s, when there was no Internet and few resources for people who stuttered, or their families. So my parents had to go it on their own. My pediatrician likely advised them to ignore my stutter; that it would probably go away. The therapy I had in school was of little help, and my failure to become “fluent” only added to my shame and frustration.
Since then, the many friends who stutter I have made over the years have helped me to discover myself and find my path in life. I was interested in social work, but could I handle a profession that involved talking?
I was helped several social workers who stutter. I first think of Michael Sugarman, who talked with me about his work with People with AIDS.
I visited my friends Joseph Tegtmeier and Elizabeth Mendez at their workplaces. Seeing Elizabeth as a supervisor in the busy office where she worked, and stuttering, and still getting the job done, blew me away.
A decade ago my friends Nora O’Connor, and later Elizabeth Kapstein and I went back to school to get our Masters’ Degrees in Social Work. We cheered each other on, and helped each other through the tough times.
25 years ago I could not have imagined doing the work I do now. I am a psychotherapist. I sit in my office talking with people. Through other stutterers who are social workers, I have learned that I can perform a challenging job that is based on oral communication, and I need not be ashamed of stuttering when I do so.
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