Stuttering and Accepting the World

Often when we talk about stuttering and acceptance, we mean acceptance of our own stuttering, our own inabilities to communicate effectively.

I want to talk about this from a different angle — accepting things — policies, laws, rules, whatever, because you stutter and can’t voice your opinion.

Well, you can voice your opinion, obviously, but you’d just rather not because you know you’ll stutter.

So what does this silence lead to?

Well, let’s just walk through a simple example. Let’s say you’ve got a small child, maybe in second grade. You’ve just moved to a new school district. You find out (through e-mails and maybe neighbors talking about it) that your elementary school is considering implementing a dress code. At the last school district, they were doing the same thing. And when they did it at the old school, they ran into various issues, all of which you are really familiar with.

(Remember, this is just an example. I think you get the point of what I’m trying to say).

So here you are, filled with plenty of reasons why something like this might not work, and your child who will feel the brunt of it. What do you do? Write a letter? Try to make a phone call? Talk to neighbors who will hopefully be more proactive? Or, if you’re someone who stutters and doesn’t want to engage just … sit back and let it happen? Then just write it off as something your kid will just have to deal with?

Let’s say you take that approach. Your default approach, really. Then what’s the next thing? They’re thinking about adding a soda machine in the cafeteria. Any objections? Passed. Now they are asking parents to buy a more expensive textbook or lab kit, or whatever?

Well, what can you do then?

I don’t have any direct experience with this (and I am a parent of school-going children) but what I’d be inclined to do is this:

1. Try to get friendly with other parents as much as possible. Hopefully before anything like this comes up.
2. Go to school board meetings just to see what they’re like. No need to talk.
3. If I know my stuttering is going to win out at a school board meeting, then drag along a parent friend.
4. I should be friendly with this person. I should be able to convince them one way or the other
5. Support them with e-mails or letters. But then let them do the talking at the school board meeting.

I know what you’re saying — you’re supposed to just stutter and carry on! Ok, I know. But I’m not sure if that’s possible until I actually go to a school board meeting (or whatever kind of public meeting). Maybe it’s really casual, and I feel comfortable speaking up. I’m not saying stuttering should win out, but that, given your limitations, it’s still possible to get important things done.

Once the first few battles are won, more and more speaking should fall onto you instead of others. Confidence is gained. You’ll gain the respect of others, and they’ll focus on the message instead of the stuttering.

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