Some of you may know that my oldest son, The Chief stutters. It started when he was around 3 years old, which can be totally normal! I tried to get help back then, but was told that he would probably outgrow it by age 5.
By 6 years old, The Chief was stuttering so badly that he would not start conversations with friends. He wouldn't order his own food when we went out to eat. He wouldn't answer questions in class. It absolutely breaks my heart to see my kids struggle with things like this. I think one reason this issue bothers me so bad is that I was painfully shy growing up and I feel like because I never spoke up and talked to peers, I missed out on a lot of fun! And a HUGE problem is that The Chief has been bullied in the past. When he was in kindergarten he was being picked on and beat up on the bus coming home from school - by a 4th grader! He didn't tell me anything until one day when it just got really bad - the kid actually bit him, breaking the skin, on his arm and punched him repeatedly. He said it started when the older boys made fun of the way he spoke.
In first grade, someone finally listened to me and we got him into speech therapy - both privately and through the school system. We saw an amazing difference in a very short time. Within a month, he was so confident. While in the mall food court, he walked up and ordered his own food - beaming the whole time. I couldn't hold back my tears.
When we moved, I knew that he could go backwards a bit. I wasn't prepared for how badly he'd slip though. What's funny about The Chief's stuttering is he speaks completely fluently when he's nervous, angry or excited. It's when he's calm and comfortable that he stutters. There are times at home that he can't even get a sentence out - and he'll give up and say, "never mind." UGH It kills me!
About a month ago, his new school speech pathologist called me at home. She said that there was a school musical about bugs coming up, and she'd like for Caleb to try out for a speaking part. He'd never even brought home the form for me to sign! I agreed, that even just trying out could help boost his confidence. She explained to him that if he got too nervous, he wouldn't HAVE to do it, but that we'd really like him to try. She explained that many many kids were trying out, so he probably wouldn't actually get a part, but it would still be good for him. A week passed and I got a letter in his folder. The Chief got TWO speaking parts! All the parts are small, he's only got 8 lines total, but he got the part!!! I'm so proud. I can't even describe to you the joy this brings my heart. My little guy is working hard to move past a major struggle and overcome his fears.
Now, comes my part. I have to make him a costume - which is due this Friday! He's decided on being an ant. Wish me luck. And you better believe I'll be the most proud mama in the place!
If you have a loved one who has fluency issues, and want more information, here is a good place to start: The Stuttering Foundation