An excerpt from Advice to Those Who Stutter by Margaret Rainey, M.A., Sherwood Public Schools, Wisconsin

I deeply wish that I could reach every stutterer in the world to tell the story I am about to tell here. Last evening, as a speech clinician, I gave a speech to a large group of people who were vitally interested in stutterers and in the nature of stuttering.

This morning as I sit drinking my coffee, and while the memories and experiences of last evening are vivid, I want to share my feelings and my knowledge with as many stutterers as possible. It is interesting that I had no fear of that audience. I had no dread of the monsters of fear that once reared their ugly heads and choked off my words and even my thoughts.

Yes, I am a stutterer, and I hope that it will help any stutterer who may read this to know that I was such a severe stutterer that I could not put two meaningful words together until I was 24 years old. Do I still stutter? Oh, I call myself a stutterer because I still have small interruptions in my speech now and then. But there’s another more important reason why I call myself a stutterer. I’m not trying to hide the fact anymore! I learned long ago that the harder I tried to camouflage my stuttering, the more severely I stuttered. It was a vicious circle and I wanted out. So I got out!

How? I stopped stuttering severely with much less effort than I once used in trying in the wrong way to stop. And the wrong ways were to try to run from it, hide from it and forget it. I made the mistake of using every trick in the book to pretend to be a normal speaker, but none of the tricks worked for long. Failures only increased, and after years of agony I finally discovered that it was finally time to make an about-face.

Why try to avoid and camouflage stuttering any longer? Who was I trying to fool? I knew that I stuttered, and so did my listeners. I finally took time out to ask myself why I should continue to fight the old, destructive feelings in the wrong way. I began to look at these feelings, and as I began to accept them and my stuttering, success in speaking began. It is interesting that the old ways of struggling were so difficult to give up. It felt as though I had an angry tiger by the tail and dared not let go.