Wednesday, September 19, 2012

From frustration to acceptance

Christine Dits, a Stutter Social participant and 23-year-old person who stutters, seen at the National Stuttering Association's annual conference this past year in St. Petersburg, Florida (photo credit: Dits).

Soon after starting the speech-language pathology graduate program at Eastern Michigan University this fall, Christine Dits, a 23-year-old person who stutters and Stutter Social participant, found herself confidently disclosing her stuttering to her classmates.

However, she didn't always have this confidence. “I couldn't accept the fact that stuttering was a part of me and I would always have it,” she recalls. “I was embarrassed by my stuttering and dreaded the negative reactions from others.”

Over the years, her attitude changed from feelings of frustration to feelings of acceptance, she notes. And it was this shift that prompted her to become a speech-language pathologist. “I understand the frustration and anxiety that comes with such a disorder and wanted to share my story with others. I knew I could relate to others about their struggle with communication on a deeper level, and I wanted to help serve as a driving force in their recovery.”

Dits's attitude started changing when she was about 16 or 17, and began researching self-help activities and came across the National Stuttering Association (NSA).

“I stumbled upon the NSA website during a quick Internet search,” she says. “I sought out these resources and the NSA because I wanted answers and I wanted information. I also wanted to be connected to a support system of people in my area or near me who could understand exactly what I was feeling.”

Her support system continued to expand. Last year, she found out about Stutter Social through her friends from the NSA. “I wanted to reconnect with my NSA friends and talk to other people who stutter,” she says about what drew her to participate in hangouts.

What she enjoys most is the opportunity to gain advice from others and offer her own advice to those facing similar struggles. “It’s a big self-help group,” she says.

Due to the support she's received and her attitude changing, Dits has accepted her stuttering, giving her the confidence to advertise her stuttering in a classroom full of strangers.

"I want you all to know that she just showed a lot of courage by introducing herself to a room full of strangers and telling you all that she stutters,” her professor told the class after she disclosed, as Dits wrote on Facebook.  “I have had some clients who, it took 50 days (or sessions) to get them to open up about their stuttering. For people who stutter, stuttering is like a backpack they carry around all day and can never take off. These individuals are very well-adjusted people, because they have to learn how to work around their stuttering."

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