Around the world people who stutter celebrate stuttering and bring communities together on the International Stuttering Awareness Day which takes place on 22 October of every year. In celebration of the International Stuttering Awareness Day, I wanted to share a not-so-frequently-shared perspective around stuttering. Specifically, from a perspective of a mother who stutters.
Before doing so though, here are some facts about stuttering:
- 1| Roughly 1% of the world’s population stutters. Which is over 71 million people around the world who stutter.
- 2| Stuttering is 3-4 times more common in adult males than females.
- 3| Stuttering usually begins between the age of 2 and 3.5 (with early intervention being key).
As a mother who stutters, these facts are often in my mind. As I see my boys develop their verbal skills and attempt to repeat the words they hear, I can’t help but wonder about their speech.
Only as an adult have I been able to embrace my stutter. But the memories I carry of growing up with a stutter are not pretty, nice, or self-accepting. There was a constant feeling of shame, aloneness, unworthiness feeding my mind, regardless of how supportive my family and friends were at the time. It took a lot to break away from the beliefs I planted in my mind because of how those around me viewed my speech.
I have made my peace with stuttering, and accepted that I am a person who stutters.
However, as a mother who stutters, I can see it is not easy to remain calm when I notice any of my boys attempting to speak and experiencing a speech block. I find myself constantly reminding myself to allow them enough time and space to safely express themselves. Regardless of how long it takes them to formulate the word or who decides to jump in the conversation or finish their sentence. I remind myself to be supportive of my boys while allowing them to build their own association with their speech.
My wish, as a mother (and a person who stutters), is to empower them to accept themselves just as they are. Regardless of how others perceive them. Help them realize that we have a unique accent that was gifted to us. Some may not understand or relate to it but that does not mean it should be a source of shame or limitation.
I truly hope I will be able to enable them with the courage, knowledge, and strength to embrace their differences.
I hope I do not play a role in them being self-conscious about their stutter. Also, I hope I do not make it seem so normal, that they feel uncomfortable with the way they feel about their stutter. Hopefully, they will find safety in opening up to me and their father about how they view their stutter (or anything else for that matter).
The possibility of them stuttering is just one of many things I worry about as a mother. I hope I am able to be there for them, without any judgement or bias, for anything they are facing in life.
P.S. All my concerns are hypothetical, but notice how much space a hypothetical thought occupies in our mind? Now imagine the impact it has on our mental wellbeing.