According to the National Stuttering Association:
What Is Stuttering?
Stuttering is a communication disorder involving disruptions, or “disfluencies,” in a person’s speech. The word "stuttering" can be used to refer either to the specific speech disfluencies that are commonly seen in people who stutter or to the overall communication difficulty that people who stutter may experience.
In addition to producing disfluencies, 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. There are, perhaps, as many different patterns of stuttering as there are people who stutter. There are many different degrees of stuttering, from mild to severe.
I have started reading up on the NSA (National Stuttering Association) for some help. Treatment for stuttering is a specialty. We have had therapists who don't know how to treat Conner. They can take guesses at what to do but they aren't experts. I think we are finally with the right therapist. She knows what she is talking about and I can tell she has the right tools. Now we have to try to get Conner to go along with it. It is harder than any other speech problem we have dealt with (and I feel like we have had a whole bunch of them, from severe expressive and receptive delay, dysphagia, dyspraxia, dysarthria, blah blah blah). Therapy for stuttering is not fun. It is hard. It is harder for Conner than doing Physical Therapy. It involves a lot of practice with breathing and relaxation...hard to do with a hyper 5 year old. Conner has developed secondary characteristics which means basically that he doesn't just stutter with his words, his whole body is involved. He turns his head, catches his breath, tenses the veins in his neck, holds his ears, and it just keeps getting worse and worse.
When most people we know think of stuttering, they aren't thinking of what we deal with every day. Sometimes I think I should videotape Conner's struggles so that people can see how hard this is. I want everyone in the world to know that it's not his fault. That he is trying so hard and to please give him the time he needs to talk, to listen to every word that he says and to not stare or make fun of him. He is only 5 and he has been dealing with this problem for a while now. We have been told that this is way past a developmental problem, he is not outgrowing it, and it is getting worse week to week. Severe stuttering. That's what the paper says. Ugghh. He will likely have to learn ways to deal with this his whole life. I'm praying that some technique we figure out helps. As his stuttering gets worse, as parents we just feel more and more helpless. It's overwhelming. Just as things seem to get better, another big blow. That's how it feels. I often wonder why this, why does my little guy have to have one more thing to add to his load. Why is this another thing that he will have to work so hard to do. I know we are so lucky. Conner's teacher today told me that we are lucky that in spite of his difficulty talking, he continues to talk. He doesn't let it stop him. I know we are lucky that Conner is able to be in school and is learning. I just wish every little thing didn't have to be such a challenge. I'm having a pity party.
If I had a penny for every time someone said to me that "he'll outgrow it", "he'll catch up", "he's going to be fine", "he's only 5", "my kid did the same thing and now they are fine", "oh, we had to do speech therapy too", I would be a millionaire and able to afford all of the therapy that Conner really needs.
I hope everyone I know is kind and teaches their kids to be kind. That's all.