I started speech therapy in second grade. We lived in Seattle Washington at the time – the land of perpetual green trees and misty rain. I had a lisp, and I couldn’t say my “r” sounds. I would continue in speech therapy until sixth grade. Seeing a speech pathologist way past the time that most of my friends had moved on and had mastered speaking. To this day there are still words or sound combinations that hang me up – “hamburger” is my personal nemesis or “calvary” – forget it – I can’t say it. The legacy of struggling to communicate orally was the source of my passion for the written word and a desire to prove to the world that I was smarter than I sounded. That the words that came out of my mouth were in fact not a reflection of my intellect.
Your greatest hope as a parent is that your children won’t face the same struggles that you faced. The amount of time I have spent praying that my children will be smart and that they won’t have speech problems is countless. When Max started showing signs of a stutter my heart broke. There was my only son picking up the journey where I had left off. Struggling to communicate, grasping to achieve at school, knowing he was smarter than people thought. Max has made much faster progress than I did. He has faced his stutter with courage, embraced his struggle, and is improving by leaps and bounds. I suspect he will be done with speech therapy by the end of this school year – a whole five years earlier than myself.
Today I came across this TED talk from a singer in Sydney Australia.
I’ve never experienced the frustration and uncertainty of a “fluency” issue but there on that stage stood my son. On that stage stood me and I couldn’t help but shed tears of acknowledgement.