I had a realization about my stutter recently. I wasn’t having a particularly stressful or dysfluent day, but I remember thinking “wow this is tiring.” That’s not the realization, because honestly, when is stuttering not tiring? I think I have come to accept that part about stuttering, that its really tiring. And its not just on bad days, when my stutter gets the best of me and I struggle through almost every word, but even on the good days, when I feel like I’m in control of my stutter and I speak with confidence and say what I need and want to say.I think this is a shared experience among other people who stutter. Stuttering can leave you really tired. Both physically and emotionally. So something I’ve been wondering about is how do we rest from this exhaustion?Back to my realization. I realized that the exhaustion we experience from stuttering may be no different than the physical exhaustion that creeps up on us throughout the day. Let me explain. You come home after a long day at work or school, and you’re just tired and tense and maybe your back is aching from the stress of the day. You put down your bags, maybe grab something to eat or drink, and then you go lie down on the couch…and that’s a pretty amazing feeling, because when you lie down every single muscle in your body relaxes and you can let the stress of the day just melt away.I realized on that not particularly stressful day that’s the kind of feeling I get for my stutter from spending time at AIS. My stutter was feeling pretty tiring and I had this thought, “ I can’t wait for the next Tuesday night group at AIS” because then I can let my stuttering relax, not hold all the tension and not be constantly aware of who’s around me and how I sound. Because there I know the people around me simply don’t care, that I can let it all hang out.That’s why it’s really important to have a group of people around you who understand, and let you stutter as much as you want to. For me, that my friends, family, and all my fellow people who stutter at AIS. And I may not ever be able to fully express my gratitude to AIS for this amazing feeling, but just like my couch, I’m sure glad it’s there.The American Institute for Stuttering is a leading non-profit organization whose primary mission is to provide universally affordable, state-of-the-art speech therapy to people of all ages who stutter, guidance to their families, and much-needed clinical training to speech professionals wishing to gain expertise in stuttering. Offices are located in New York, NY and Atlanta, GA, and services are also available Online. Our mission extends to advancing public and scholarly understanding of this often misunderstood disorder.
Mark O’Malia, M.S., CCC-SLP
As a person who stutters, Mark has an in-depth understanding of the unique challenges that stuttering can create in an individual’s life.