Speaking Out On Stuttering

Student Ambassador: Tahtierra Hall

OWEd Ambassador Since: 2013

Grade 8

School Meridian School

Reflection Experience

At the beginning of last year, I remember sitting in math class, trying to answer a question my teacher asked. I knew what to say, but I couldn’t get the words out. My words kept on repeating and repeating. I couldn’t take a deep breath to start over again. Humiliated and embarrassed, I kept on trying to give the answer until I got it right. My heart was racing and I felt my face getting flushed as I tried again and again. I could feel my classmates around me staring, wondering what was wrong.

My name is Tahtierra and I stutter. I’ve been stuttering since I was five years old. I’ve been having trouble with it for years and people making fun of me, just to make my life miserable. I get help from my mom so that I can try to overcome my stuttering.  At first, I got depressed about how people treated me, but then I got used to it and got less irritated and annoyed.

Stuttering occurs for many reasons. Some of it is genetic. My uncle and father both used to stutter but eventually grew out of it. Other reasons why stuttering occurs is because of family dynamics, neurophysiology, and child development. According to StutteringFacts.org, 20% of kids stutter at some point, but 1% of the population struggles with stuttering for their entire lives. That is three million Americans who stutter! For me, I stutter more when I try to speak really fast and have trouble getting out what I am thinking. I can think about what I am going to say, but it doesn’t always come out the right way. Sometimes people have a hard time understanding me and I have to try saying things all over again. This can happen every day, which causes me to be less patient with other people.

How have I gotten used to this stuttering problem after 8 years? My technique is that I ignore people who tease me or I keep silent until they walk away from me. What makes my stuttering so significant is that people treat me differently because I stutter. That doesn’t mean you can treat me with no respect or, make jokes to me that are not even funny. I’m still human like everybody except I stutter. I know some famous people stutter and people treat them with respect and don’t make fun of them. For example, James Earl Jones, Nicole Kidman, Emily Blunt, Carly Simon, Winston Churchill, and Marilyn Monroe are all celebrities who stuttered just like me.

What makes my stuttering problem difficult for me is that I get very annoyed because people say the same ‘insults’ every day. I wonder how they don’t get tired. They should see things from the perspective of being bullied. As soon as someone starts to joke about them, they get quiet, then want to tell the teacher. They get all mad and start to cry a little. Now they know how I feel when bullies start to joke on me for no reason.

At school when certain boys see me, they start copying off of my stutter, but I just walk past them and ignore them with everything in me. I even wrote a poem called “You Don’t Know Me” about dealing with my stuttering and going to my speech teacher. I wanted people to know that just because I see someone to help me with my stutter, that doesn’t make me different or less intelligent. I put every emotion in my poem and shared it with my classmates during our English class Open Mic last year. After I read it, everyone clapped for me and said how much they enjoyed it. It made me feel really good inside and gave me more confidence.

More people should be aware of this issue. People should know that they shouldn’t talk about or make fun of people who have stuttering problems or see a speech therapist  like me. How would they like it if one of their family members stuttered? If a teenager is the target of someone teasing him or her, they could ignore the bully and walk away like it’s nothing. The bully will eventually stop talking about you.

You Don’t Know Me

By Tahtierra Hall

You think I need help
But, I don’t
I’m only there because
Of my talking

People treat me differently
Because I go to
Them.
You think I’m stupid
But I’m not – I’m as smart
as a professor.
You don’t know me, the
real me.
Some people do, some people
don’t.
The real people who know
ME.
About half of me is the
people who like me.