#Fulla5 National Stuttering Awareness Week #NSAW

May 9-13 is National Stuttering Awareness Week.

Courtesy of the National Stuttering Association

Courtesy of the National Stuttering Association  National Stuttering Association

So first of all, Stuttering is Cool and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

As proud stutterer, yes I say “stutterer,” there are five things I want you to know about us silver tongues, because chances are that you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about, no matter how fluent you say it 🙂

1) DO NOT finish my sentence. I have something to say, so let ME say it. Whether one stutters or not, it’s rude to cut people off. There are exceptions to this rule, though. For example, if I’m sinking it quick sand, and I start to ask for help and I get stuck, no pun intended, then, please, by all means, cut me off and free me from this often forgotten deathtrap that has swallowed so many stutterers who were unwilling to swallow their pride.

2) DO NOT post things related to stuttering that have gone viral on my Facebook page. Chances are that video has been posted to my page 68 thousand times. I think it’s great that a guy can get hit in the neck with a softball at 20 years and develop a stutter and go on to appear on national television as a comedian or a stuttering guy or gal is on another program. People who stutter do indeed have talent.

*Note: This rule does not apply to anything I post, so post away. Post like there is no tomorrow.

3) Do NOT try to cure me. There is no cure, so please don’t even tell me about your brother-in-law’s, third cousin on his mama’s side who quit stuttering after sipping on the tonic, naked, during a full moon. I’ve tried it, and it doesn’t work. Per Wikipedia, for centuries “cures” such as consistently drinking water from a snail shell for the rest of one’s life, strengthening the tongue as a muscle, and hitting a stutterer in the face when the weather is cloudy. Number 1, I drink water from a bottle. Number 2, my tongue is strong enough. I can eat ice cream with the best of them. Number 3, this is why I keep my stuttering butt at home on cloudy days.
4) DO NOT question my stuttering because I don’t stutter like someone you know. Seriously, stuttering is unique to each of us. It’s like finger prints and snowflakes. Furthermore, it often changes. We go through cycles, particularly during our formative years. There are those of us who get stuck on one word or sound. There are those of us who repeat the same thing over and over. There are those of us who lock up and nothing comes out. There are those of us whose mouth gets stuck like the end of a 70’s sitcom. There are those of us with closed eyes, facial contortions, and the desire to beat the word out of us ourselves. When I was a kid, I would beat the underside of my desk in the classroom, or I would beat my thigh like I was playing a tambourine without the tambourine. When my leg got too sore, I beat the arm of the person I was trying to talk to. I found out who my true friends were 🙂
*Note: And of you have the urge to say, “You’re not stuttering now,” then please do not. It happens. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. For some of us, it comes and goes, so please, resist the urge. I’d hate to have the urge to hit you in the face on a cloudy day.
5) DO NOT tell me “it’s ok” if I tell you (advertise) that I stutter. I know it’s ok. I’m just letting you know. Advertising, in my opinion, is a good thing, because it brings clarity to the situation. One time somebody thought I was about to have a seizure and threw their wallet in my mouth so I wouldn’t swallow my tongue. Not really, but I could see that happening. Advertising just lets you know that I’m ok. It might just take me a minute…or two.
For more info on stuttering, please visit, the National Stuttering Association, the Stuttering Foundation, and the American Institute for Stuttering.

Jody Fuller is from Opelika, Ala. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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Stuttering is Cool

I come from a long line of disabilities. I stutter, my father was blind, and my mother and brother are Alabama fans; however, since May 13-19 is National Stuttering Awareness week, I’ll st-st-stick to stuttering.

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When I was in the second grade, one of my classmates asked me why I stuttered. I told her that when I was a kid, I was eating a piece of meat and it got stuck in my throat, so whenever I tried to talk, it bounced up and down which caused me to stutter.

She bought it hook, line, and sinker.

I can’t recall whether she moved, transferred schools or what, but I didn’t see her again until we were in the seventh grade. After a brief conversation, she said, “Jody, it sounds like you still have that meat stuck in your throat.”

Indeed, I did.

Indeed, I do.

I’ve stuttered my entire life, although it was much more severe during my childhood.

There are varying degrees of stuttering, from mild to severe.

There are, perhaps, as many different patterns of stuttering as there are people who stutter. I’ve often said that a person’s stutter is as unique as fingerprints and snowflakes.

The exact cause of stuttering is not known.

Throughout history, some of the more laughable proposed “causes” of stuttering, per Wikipedia, have included tickling an infant too much, allowing an infant to look in the mirror, eating improperly during breastfeeding, cutting a child’s hair before the child spoke his or her first words, having too small a tongue, or, my favorite, the “work of the devil.”

People who stutter often experience physical tension and struggle in their speech muscles, as well as embarrassment, anxiety, and fear about speaking. Together, these symptoms can make it very difficult for people who stutter to say what they want to say and to communicate effectively with others.

I borrowed the previous paragraph from my friends at the National Stuttering Association.

The National Stuttering Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing hope and empowerment to children and adults who stutter, their families, and professionals through support, education, advocacy, and research.

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For centuries “cures” such as drinking water from a snail shell, hitting a stutterer in the face when the weather was cloudy, strengthening the tongue as a muscle, and various herbal remedies were used.

These “cures” are equally as laughable as the “causes.” There is no cure for stuttering. Some of us may outgrow it or control it better than others, but once a stutterer, always a stutterer, and that’s okay. It’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it should be embraced.

Danny, one of my Canadian pals who also stutters, says stuttering is cool. I couldn’t agree more.

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(My Canadian pal, Danny, eh….at the 2011 NSA conference in Ft. Worth)

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees.

During Officer Candidate School at Ft. Benning, I was told by an officer from another company that I couldn’t be an officer because of my stutter. I wish I’d caught his name because I would’ve looked him up and sent him a message by now letting him know that upon arrival at my first assignment at Ft. Lewis, my bosses had enough confidence in my abilities to appoint me as the platoon leader of the third largest platoon in the Army.

Clear and concise communication is important; however, it is not the be all end all.

Only 1% of the adult population stutters but 4% of children do, which means 96% do not. If I had a nickel for every time I was made fun of, I could have retired at 12.

We all have perceived flaws. Yes, all of us. You, too. None of us are perfect.

We’re all unique in our own way and all have the ability to shine, regardless of the perceived flaw. At the risk of sounding arrogant, there was a time in my life where people made fun of me for the way I spoke, yet, today, people pay to hear me speak.

Due to, in large part, to stuttering, there was also a time in my life when I wanted to be any but me, yet, today, there’s no one else I’d rather be.

My advice to anyone who stutters is to truly accept it. I know that can be hard for some of us, but if you don’t accept it yourself, then how can you truly expect it from others?

Accept it, embrace it, and let it shine, because loving yourself really is cool, no doubt about it.

Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, and a soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.