About the Author:
My name is Nicholas Mensah. I am 19 years old. I struggled with my stutter throughout most of primary school and all of secondary school. It wasn’t until sixth grade that I began speech therapy (which has gradually improved my fluency).
For as long as I can remember, I have always been ashamed of my stuttering, going as far as to keep most ideas I had to myself during class discussions.
When I was 12 years old, I attended a talk about the Christian faith and our relationship with God. The speaker started by asking the question “Who is God to you?” and went around holding the microphone to random people. Since I was the nearest person, he chose me first (which caught me completely off guard). He held the microphone to me, and I forced out the words “Our Creator”. I forced it out because I knew my words would get blocked and since I had to force it out, my voice sounded rather babylike and high-pitched. The whole crowd went “aww”. What I felt in that moment was nothing short of sheer embarrassment. If I remember correctly, it took me more than a week to get over it.
Another case happened about two years later when I was in form 3. A group of sixth formers would ask my name knowing very well that I would stutter on the first letter. They would then laugh at me behind my back. I actually didn’t know they were laughing until one of my classmates pointed it out.
There have also been cases when people have asked me questions about myself (e.g. what subjects I did, my name etc) and because I blocked, they thought I had forgotten. Of course, this was quite frustrating for me.
I knew something needed to change. The change I wished to speak was to get involved with speech therapy, which would help me with my frustration.
Speech therapy has shown me many techniques which have improved my fluency. However, such techniques can rarely be mastered in one day, and require much practice over time. I believe that with enough practice, symptoms can be improved to such a great extent that they become almost unnoticeable to the untrained listener. Lastly, it’s important to remember that stuttering is not usually caused by fear/anxiety. Thus, saying things such as “Calm down” and “Breathe” does not help the situation.
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