My Life As A Stutterer – Daniel Chan

Daniel ChanAbout the Author:

Daniel Chan lives in Sydney, Australia. He is a Mechanical Engineer with both a Bachelor and Master Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is the Engineering Manager at Leussink Engineering. He is married with two boys. Daniel has stuttered all his life, but now has the confidence and strength to lead an almost fluent life.

He enjoys playing the saxophone, particularly jazz music. After having provided his two boys the opportunity to learn the saxophone, Daniel has taken it upon himself to start saxophone lessons again, and is looking forward to each and every lesson.

Daniel also enjoys new technologies. He has installed a 12kW solar power system to his house and recently bought an electric vehicle.

M M M My  n n n name is D D D Daniel C C C Chan. 

A number of years ago this is how I would have started off my speech with a severe stutter. I would not have been able to put together a clear and logical sentence.

I would be overwhelmed with anxiety. My heart would be thumping away, as I would be completely traumatised, with the fact that there would be a large audience like yourselves in front of me waiting for me to spit out my words. I was definitely out of my comfort zone.

I remember when I was in kindergarten, my teacher asked me to get up in front of the class and to tell some news. I would very quickly shake my head sideways and say no. So from the very young age of five years old, I had already feared public speaking.

Strangely enough, when it came to school plays, I really enjoyed participating in them. I played Jack, in Jack and the Beanstalk. I had the time of my life. In fact, I still carry the three magic beans with me in my pocket today! It was as if my stuttering would magically disappear when it came to performing in plays. But, when the play ended, and we were back in the routine of normal school work, my stuttering would re-appear.

Later on in life, I learnt that this is a basis of NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming. When you take on an acting of another character, this character does not have the emotional baggage of a traumatic speaking situation, and hence a stutterer is able to speak a lot more fluently, without the cloud of anxiety hanging over his head. 

My high school years were a lot more difficult. Peer pressure didn’t help with my speech either. A memory that sticks strongly in my mind is a speech I had to give in class. I was the last person to give their speech. I still remember the nervous tone of my teacher’s voice as she calls me up. As I walked towards the front of the class, I thought to myself, “How on earth am I going to get through this!”. I was stuttering pretty badly, and my teacher saw the torment I was going through, and politely told me I can sit back down without me finishing my speech.

But this wasn’t the only issue burdening me. There was this girl in the class I really liked but always struggled to find the courage to ask her out. Walking back to my seat, demoralised, I glanced towards her direction to see what her reaction was. Her facial expression was of total shock. All I wanted to do is to crawl back into my shell and hide forever.

Do you remember the days long before the Opal cards and the automated ticketing machines, when you had to line up in the queue to ask to buy your train ticket? This simple task was an absolute nightmare for me. Standing in the queue my anxiety was building up, as I wondered how badly I would be stuttering as I asked to buy my train ticket. I was next, and not a sound would come out. I could feel the urgency in the people behind me as they needed to buy their ticket to catch this train that was pulling up into the station. I was finally able to spit out the words to buy my ticket. As I walked away, I looked downwards to avoid making eye contact with the people in the queue behind me, as I had caused them to miss their train. However, I am pretty sure they got to work by lunch time!

Leaving high school, going to university and joining the workforce, I knew I had to overcome the adversity of my stutter to be successful. I needed to face my challenges head on. I need to overcome the fear and anxiety within me. I needed to get out of my comfort zone!

To overcome my stuttering I learnt Smooth Speech and am a member of the Australian Speak Easy Association. After the 2 week intensive Smooth Speech course, I felt as if I was cured, and was invincible. I had the freedom to say whatever I wanted, whenever I like. However, we do need to constantly maintain our fluency. 

My two boys know their dad has a stutter. For me, to set them an example that I can overcome my stutter is such a great delight, not only for myself, but for my boys as well. When I order their meals going through the McDonalds drive through, I will try my best to speak as fluently as I can. Once I have, I am rewarded with cries of joy, and a few of their french fries.

Just as, with the seeds of life in my pocket, I have continued to grow, pushing my boundaries and getting out of my comfort zone to deal with those demons that lurk within my mind. I have been able to grow stronger and speak more confidently in my everyday life.

I stand here today, no longer fearing the anxiety and trauma that I once used to. I leave you with a quote, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there”.

Daniel Chan

“This is a photo of me being the MC at my Smooth Speech Toastmasters Club for the 30th Anniversary Dinner”

 

 292 total views,  7 views today


Comments

My Life As A Stutterer – Daniel Chan — 13 Comments

  1. Daniel thanks for sharing this. I definitely felt the similar kind of peer pressure during school and it’s amazing how much that impacts us and what it does for our self confidence.

    It is great to see the work you put in through the clinics and toastmasters. It’s a great realization that when we enter the workforce we can no longer hide as it’s too important for our careers to be tackling things head on.

    How have your kids influenced how you approach your stuttering from a mental perspective?

  2. Hi Daniel,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I really enjoyed reading about the three magic beans you carry in your pocket and the symbolism tied to them. Also, I was not aware that stuttering isn’t present when a person is acting, that is absolutely fascinating.
    As you began University and your professional career as an engineer how did you advocate for yourself as a person who stutters? Did you find yourself educating those around you about what stuttering is and what it is not? And what message of encouragement would you share with a person who stutters today?

    Thanks in advance,
    Adriana

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Daniel! I really enjoyed reading your success story. It’s incredible to read about someone who has found so much success in his life.
    As a future Speech Pathologist, I plan on working with PWS throughout my career. I was wondering, how might you have preferred your high school teacher react to your speech?
    Thanks again for sharing your experience!

  4. Hello Daniel! First of all thankyou for being so honest and open about your experience and how you overcame it. I had ever heard before that performing can make a person forget about their stutter. How did you work up the courage to perform in front of a crowd when previously you were scared of public speaking? I am also curious as to how else your kids have helped you work through your stutter, the drive thru is a great example!

  5. Hello there, Daniel. I thought your passage was very inspiring. I don’t have as bad of a stutter as yours sounds, but I do have a hard time getting infront of a group of people too. I completely understand the whole anxiety thing that you would once feel. I was just wondering, how did the Smooth Speech Club better your stutter? What exercises did they have you partake in? Thank you in advance, Anthony.

  6. Hi Daniel!
    Wow, I am so inspired by your positive perspective. I have not heard of Smooth Speech, but am excited to do some research to learn more about this program! Beyond being a member of the Australian Speak Easy Association, do you continue speech therapy to maintain fluency or do you prefer to practice fluency on your own? What are some of the pros/cons you have found in maintaining fluency on your own vs. through speech therapy?

  7. Hi Daniel,
    Thank you so much for sharing your journey as a person who stutters. As an SLP student, I appreciate reading and hearing the honest experiences of people who stutter. I also find it very interesting that during plays you were fluent. I think your story of how you got out of your comfort zone in order to grow is very inspiring to others, and I am thankful to have to opportunity to hear it.

  8. Hi Daniel!

    Thank you for sharing your amazing story! I am so inspired by you and your positive point of view. I also like when you said, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there” I feel like your story will help and motivate so many PWS and the young generation to continue to grow on their journey! Once again, thank you so much for sharing this!

  9. Hi Daniel,
    I really enjoyed reading your story, thank you for sharing that. Do you feel that if more people knew about stuttering in general and provided more support back then (and now) when you were in school that that would have helped you to get out of your comfort zone sooner rather than later? What is it that you specifically wish could have been done?

    Thank you so much for sharing!
    Aileen

  10. Hello Daniel, it was really nice to hear how you were able to overcome some of the challenges with stuttering. I have a few questions as well if you don’t mind.
    -What was the hardest thing for you while gaining the confidence to speak in front of others.
    -What is something that really helped you to overcome your public fears.
    -Lastly, what has been your greatest motivation for improving your speech?

    Thank you so much, best wishes to you and your family.

  11. Hi Daniel! I really enjoyed reading your article. I have a question regarding the Smooth Speech course, if you do not mind me asking? What was this fast pace program like, was it intense training, what kind of strategies did the therapists use?

  12. Hi Daniel,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. That is so interesting how you talked about your stuttering disappearing when acting. I’ve heard about people’s stuttering go away while they sing, but I learned something new today. That’s also great that you’re trying to set an example for your kids.
    What are some things you have told your kids about stuttering that others should know to make for more positive speaking situations? Also, what specifically about Smooth Speech course did you feel helped you the most?

    Thank you,
    Karen

Leave a Reply