Friday Family and Friends

friends_conferenceThis photo was taken at the Friends Conference in Chicago on July 18, 2014, with myself, Lee Caggiano, Jessie Caggiano, Nora O’Connor, Roger Roe, and Caryn Herring.

As I thought about this topic of Family and Friends, I recalled my late mother, who stuttered in childhood. What must it have been like for her when she saw me – her first child – also begin to stutter? 

My first memory of stuttering is in kindergarten during Show And Tell. I stood there struggling to speak. I am sure that my teacher, Mrs. Fuller did what she could to comfort me. But back then no one knew yet how to talk openly about this topic.

This was in the 1960’s, a completely different time in the treatment of stuttering. Parents were told that their child would outgrow it. Which is not always the case.

Years later my mother told me that she had brought up with my father about my getting help at school. When doing so she did not feel comfortable sharing her own experiences with stuttering.

I stuttered throughout my time in school. The speech therapy I got was of little help. It was only as an adult that I began to get better; through the self-acceptance I gained from the stuttering self-help movement, and improved therapy techniques. 

Nowadays I attend Friends and NSA Conferences because it helps me to be around other people who stutter. And to help children and teens and their parents; by serving as a role model and helping out in whatever ways I can.

At workshops at Friends, a child who stutters in school is encouraged to speak in private with their teacher, or perhaps doing a class presentation about stuttering. And their parents support each other and learn about resources that are available. I am glad that it is a different world now for we people who stutter.

Jeff Shames

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Friday Family and Friends — 6 Comments

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Good to see you on here. I love this idea of you folks offering a daily, interactive, ever changing dialogue about all things stuttering. This picture made me nostalgic for FRIENDS. I have missed the last 2 conferences, and missed seeing you and all of the great FRIENDS people. I am planning to attend next year in Raleigh. Thanks for all of your contributions to this year’s ISAD.


    • Hi Pam-

      Thank you for your post. I have missed seeing you lately. It is wonderful to see you around online; in you work as an activitist, and especially in supporting women who stutter. I look forward to seeing you again soon.


  2. Jeff, thank you for your Friday post. Great picture too! You are such a role model and source of support for young people who stutter. Thank your for hour contributions to the Friends organization. You’re also a role model as a social worker who stutters.

    Thanks, Jeff.

    • Dear Nora-

      Thank you, that is a great photo, glad to share it here. Seeing you at the Friends Conference again this year was a joy.

      I appreciate your thinking of me as a role model. I see you in the same way; as a person who has supported and inspired me, and many others as well.


  3. Jeff,

    What a beautiful experience to share. The holistic view of being apart of Stuttering Communities and the continued friendship and support is just lovely. Wonderful photo!


    Elizabeth Kapstein

    • Thank you, Elizabeth. It has been wonderful to be on this journey together in dealing wiht stuttering.