Monday, August 3, 2009

Do we go "back to school" as teammates who stutter?

Good evening everyone,

I want to apologize to those teammates around the world for not posting in a few days. After seven years of being good to me, my computer finally gave out and went to the big cyber-heaven in the now I am resurrected stronger than ever, thanks to a brand spanking new HP desktop. And now, I can return to updating my blog, which I love so much.

It's the first few days of August, and depending on where you live, your thoughts may be running the gauntlet on any number of topics: How to hold on to those precious summer days, maybe you're prepping for college entrance exams or GRE work, plotting your Labor Day weekend getaway. As I was picking up my computer at Best Buy, I couldn't help but be inundated with advertisements for those "back-to-school" sales. And when I think of back-to-school, I can't help but wonder: Do we ever go "back-to-school" as teammates who stutter?

Like with most things in life, we as human beings never stay complacent. We can't afford to do so in so many ways, not with the way things are today. What worked today may not necessarily work tomorrow. As teammates who stutter, we are all students, no matter how old we are. There's always that sense of dread as September approaches. After all, on the first day of school, you hit the snooze bar, and you want to eke out every precious minute of freedom with the bed that you have. Believe me, I felt the same way. But I am 31 now, and my life is beginning again. Every day I used to wake up and determined that my only motivation is making it to the end of the day, or waiting for that paycheck to come. But now every day is another chance for me: you see, it's another chance for me to share with the world. Another chance to hear, and be heard. And most important of all, another chance for me to share the love of the National Stuttering Association.

On that first day of school, when you walk into the class, in a way it's like playing the lottery. You just don't know what kind of teacher you will have. Maybe you'll get the cool one....or the one who just speaks in a flat monotone all year long. Sometimes those teachers though are the ones who pass on the most important lessons. But, my teachers don't necessarily teach in schools. What do I mean by that? Well, my teammates at the NSA are teachers. I embrace their lessons every day. I learned from one of my teaching teammates that the choice is yours whether you have a good day or a terrible day. I learned from another one that it is OK, and encouraged, to advertise your stuttering. And they're at opposite ends of the spectrum: the former is retired, the latter is a college student. But they teach you....and it's never forgotten.

Our school year doesn't begin in September. For the NSA, it's every day. But instead of packing a textbook and graphing calculator (ah the days of yesteryear!), the most important thing you need to bring is an open mind. A willingness to embrace your stutter. And the knowledge that in order to learn, you must want to be taught. If you'd like to learn about us, check out We're ready to teach. Always have been, and always will be.

My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.

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