When I was 10 years old, I woke up one morning and started stuttering. I could not say one word, without stuttering. Doctors were no help, as many said I was faking it for attention. My parents were concerned, but also thought I was using it to get attention. The school placed me in speech therapy, which did not help - instead it drew even more attention to me and made the stuttering worse. My school was very small - we only had 18 kids in our 4th grade class. My days were very lonely because the friends I had, were now making fun of me, calling me names, pushing me into the lockers in the hallway, and mocking me continually. I cried, then I got mad, which only made the stuttering worse! I was no longer invited to birthday parties, for sleepovers, and no one called me on the phone because it was labor intensive to listen to me talk, while trying to figure out what I was trying to say. I specifically remember being taunted in the classroom while my teacher made me read outloud everyday, by all of the kids, with the exception of a handfull. I would have to stand up, read the passage outloud, while cringing in embarressment and shame. The worst part was that no one believed that I was truly suffering a disability at the time. I cried everyday. I stoppedlooking people in the eye, because I was either being judged, ridiculed or being looked upon with pity. I withdrew from everyone. Now, during all of this, there was one thing that I could do better than others, and that was singing. When I was singing, I felt freedom. The rythym of singing was the only way I could vocalize speech without a stutter, so it came to me one day to try a rythym in my speech pattern when I spoke words. It helped. Of course, kids don't forget, so the teasing continued, the bullying continued. My parents were not buying it. Eventually, I embraced that part of me, and when I did, I started to feel better about myself, then others started to accept my stuttering as part of who I am. Now, 34 years later, I am in a professional role where I conduct training to staff across the state. I speak, for the most part, without stuttering at all....can you imagine that? I am so happy that I learned to accept myself and that led others to accept me. I know my story is not as dramatic as some of yours are. But it is my story. And, I want you to know that no matter what anyone thinks about you, what is most important is what you think about yourself. Be your own best friend. Believe in yourself. I hope that my words have helped you in some way. Love to you all, Kim
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