Stuttering at the Conference Day 4 – Last day

Well today the NSA annual conference came to a close. It’s been a really amazing experience that definitely blew away any expectations that I had. I’m not sure what I really thought would happen before I showed up — maybe some seminars, sitting and listening, talking to a few people here and there.

It’s been so much more than that. Every workshop that I’ve gone to has really driven through the heart of my stuttering and given me new ways to look at it. There’s acceptance everywhere I turn here. Nobody finishes my words, phrases or sentences for me. They look at me, they make eye contact, and they wait patiently. I can say the words I want to say instead of the words that are easy to say. Nobody says stupid things like “did you forget your name?” or “you hardly stutter at all, you’re fine.”

Next year’s conference is in Chicago. I’ve already made up my mind that I’ll go. Whatever has to be done for scheduling, so be it. (Besides, many of the Middle East airlines fly direct to Chicago). I want to listen to others talk about stuttering again. I want to see the friends who I met over the past week. I want to be moved to tears — as I was twice today. I want to be mentally exhausted at the end of each day again. I want to scribble furiously in my little notebook as yet another speaker blows my mind with a new attitude or outlook that I never considered.

I want to meet new people, and I want to feel comfortable again in a room of a thousand people who get it.

I really wish I had gone to this conference when I was in high school. I’m not sure how different my life would have been, but I would have known that I wasn’t the only one. I would have known other kids going through the same experiences. I could have gone to seminars with adults who could have mapped out the next few years — the college years. I would have talked to people about all the uncertainty, the fear of speaking, and how it’ll be fine at the end of the day. I didn’t do all of that, but I’m doing it now. I’m 35, and I’m less covert in my stuttering as before. And that’s fine to come out on my own terms. And it’s even easier being here to see how others have done it, and how others have embraced it.

I’m going to go back over my notes over the next few days and see about how to relive some of the magic … I think I’ll devote a week to each day of the conference and elaborate on workshops and ideas that were presented. By all means, if you have any comments or stories, do send them along. As I said before, this site has only just started, and we’ve got a lot to cover.


  1. Lovejoy says:

    Hi Rehan the Conference was beyond amazing to me as well. One of the things I enjoyed the most was the numerous wonderful people I met (including yourself). I have also made up my mind that I’ll be in Chicago next year. Thanks for the blog

  2. Geraint Isitt says:

    This is awesome. I’m glad you had a positive experience and are already thinking about next year. I love Chicago; it’s a great city with plenty to do. Do I sense a road trip coming up???

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