If I Didn’t Stutter – James Hayden

About the Author:James Hayden is a 25 year old New Orleans resident, Saints fan, Survivor super fan, writer, and a person who stutters. James is the author of “Dear World, I Stutter” and has been previously published by The Stuttering Foundation and The Mighty.

Whenever I speak my mind about stuttering to a large group of people, some version of this question is bound to be asked: “If there was a magic to take away your stutter, would you take it?” My typical response is, “If you offer me the pill 100 times, 98 times I’m not taking the magic pill.”

Here are my reasons for not taking it:

I wouldn’t have some of my life experiences.
I wouldn’t be part of a great and inspiring community.
I wouldn’t be as emphatic and compassionate.
I would be missing out on some great life lessons.

I wouldn’t have discovered writing as a means of expressing myself.

I wouldn’t be as good of a listener as I am.

I wouldn’t be me.

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If I Didn’t Stutter – James Hayden — 110 Comments

  1. Hello James,

    I really enjoyed this piece, even though it was short and simple, the overall message was very powerful and inspiring. I am a graduate student in speech-language pathology and I’m currently in a class about fluency disorders. We have been exploring the viewpoints that PWS have, and it is always interesting to learn new things about stuttering and the individual’s perspective. My goal as a future SLP is to achieve this positive outlook you have on stuttering to all my clients. I am assuming that this positive outlook you have did not come overnight, and was wondering if you have any advice or information that helped lead you to such a positive viewpoint?

    After reading many of the comments, you talked a lot about how the negatives helped build/shape many of the positives. My question to you is: how long did it take for you to be able to understand and accept the negatives and turn them into positives? I know that each individual person is different, but do you have any advice that may be beneficial in working with children who have such a negative outlook on stuttering?

    • Hi Neil,

      Thank you for your kind words about my article. You’re right, this positive outlook did not happen over night. It took me going back to speech therapy at the age of 20, getting involved with the NSA at 22, and a lot of self growth for me to see my stutter, and all that comes with it, as a plus.

      In terms of working with kids, make it fun for them. Allow them to talk about whatever they want to talk about and incorporate speech therapy into their interests. When I was in speech therapy as a kid, a lot of my practice sentences involved the Weather Channel because that’s what I was into at that age.

      Advice for kids is:
      You are not alone
      Your stutter does not define you
      You always were, always are, and always will be so much more than your stutter. You may not see that now, but in time you will. Trust me.


  2. Hello James,
    I found this piece very emotional and this hit me hard because this is true for many scenarios. Thank you so much for sharing! I was wondering why you would take two the two pills out of 100? Just curious

  3. Hello James, I really loved this piece, I am a firm believer that if something happens it was meant to happen. I love your examples on why I wouldn’t take the pills, and I commend you because I feel like some don’t think the same as you.

  4. Hi Orion,

    Thank you for your kind words about my article. What a great question. Stuttering sucks, regardless if I’m having a good day or a bad day. The two times I want to take it are on the bad days when I can’t see the positives of my stutter. These days rarely occur, but they still occur.


  5. Hi James,
    I’m very happy to see someone who is okay with being themselves a lot of times we feel bad about the things that makes us unique and different from others so i’m glad that you’ve excepted who you are and can live with your difference.

  6. Hi, James. I am so glad that you have taken your stutter on as a part of your identity. It does make you uniquely you and I am so glad that you were able to see that aspect of it. Sometimes those 2/100 days happen where you can’t see the positives, but that is what you have supportive people in your life for.

    • Hi,

      Thanks for the kind words about my article. Those two days are when I’m even more so glad for the people I have in my life.


  7. Hi James!

    I really enjoyed your piece. I think it is really cool that you have such a good grasp on how to turn stuttering into a positive outlook. It is really inspiring to me. I am in an Intro to Disorder of Communication class at the University of Akron and the emphasis on helping instead of fixing is very stressed. This just proves that stuttering is not a problem.


    • Hi Megan,

      Thank you for your kind words about my article. I totally agree with you that stuttering is not a problem. I never say “I have a stuttering problem”, but rather “I stutter.” For me, the word problem implies that the problem must be fixed. I don’t see my stutter has a problem that needs to be fixed, but rather a fun fact about myself.