ZAK G Pix for SS 211102

Zak, Age 12, Florida

I started on this program at age 11, and I’m now a thirteen-year-old male from Florida, U.S.A. I’ve had a known stuttering problem since I was at least five.  I lived my whole life knowing I HAD to stutter.  I personally did not care at the time.  In the first grade I can remember being taken out of school early on Mondays to do therapy.  I enjoyed it as a kid yet got nothing out of it.  I later changed schools and got a new therapist in the fifth grade.  I never got bullied before about stuttering until that moment.  I was a new kid in a new school who could not speak without going st-st-stu, I hated it.

The therapist I had in the fifth grade told me to “elongate your words”.  Sooooo wheeeennn I spppooooke it sounded as if I could not speak still.  Another thing I was ALWAYS told is “you must live with this issue”.  I just brushed it aside since it did not bother me a ton.  A word I remember always struggling to say was “Chris”.  Chris was a friend I had and still have as of writing this; I’d never gotten his attention since I always said: “Chr-Chr-Chis” or simply had a block.  I define a block as not being able to say it and having an awkward silence that made people stare at me funny.  My stuttering has its ups and downs over a year’s period.  Around June, I had it worse and in December I had it better, or it flip flopped.  I never understood why, I thought it was just how life was.

Over the summer of fifth grade, at age 11, I read Lee Lovett’s wonderful book.  At the time my father forced me to read it.  At such a young age of eleven, I did not understand much, BUT I did get the crutches but I never used them.  I really did not care about stuttering – that is probably why I did not take away much from the book.

Midway through the sixth grade, my father signed me up for WSSA, which is in the process of being converted into the World Stop Stuttering Association.  WSSA had all the book’s and lessons on their website in the form of videos taught by Lee Lovett himself.  I found the crutches helpful but still did not use them.  I deeply regret waiting for so long to USE the crutches.  I watched all the videos on the website and felt I understood what I had to do to stop stuttering.

After some time, my father had an idea to start Skype lessons with Mr.  Lovett (Coach Lee).  I was deathly afraid of this for some reason.  I had extreme anxiety going to my first lesson.  I was all tense and nervous before the Skype meeting. But as we talked, I began to feel more comfortable.  I found that it was easy to talk with Coach Lee.

Over the lesson Coach Lee told me to read some songs and poems with passion and slowly.  He also told me the two things to END stuttering FOREVER, hear as much fluency from your lips as possible and use his methods to stop hearing dysfluency from your lips.  He has thirteen crutches, and these crutches are thrown into speech to help prevent the stutter.  For example, let’s say I have an issue with “night.”  I could use crutch one and say “ight” or use crutch two and say “evening”.  Crutch one is where you remove the first letters or sound of a word.  Crutch two is where you change the word.

He also explained the most important part of his program, Mind Training.  Mind training is where you’d say positive things to yourself.   While you are still stuttering, what you say is normally related to speech.  Coach Lee also suggested reading aloud, and I read up to three hours many days over my summer break.  When school started that number went down.  I still read aloud any of my schoolwork and or emails.   The more I read the more I got used to speaking without stuttering.

After Skyping with Coach Lee more times than I can count, to be frank, he is not a scary person at all.  Since I’ve Skyped with him for so long, I find him to be a caring and kind friend and he gives lots of good advice about life.  As I once told him, he’s a superior person.

After maybe about ten Skypes, it all sort of came together and I began to stop stuttering.  I felt a sense of normality about my speech.  I wasn’t speech disabled.  I was like any other seventh grader at my school, talkative and friendly.  This changed everything in my life in a positive way.

After my journey through stuttering, I personally think I’ve learned more life lessons from Coach Lee than I ever could have imagined.  An example of what he has told me is how when he started law school, he was behind.  This means what he learned in school was not remembered later. That is why he has always urged me to give schoolwork my all.

I really believe that stuttering is simply a bad habit that can be stopped.  Stuttering can be stopped, and you don’t have to suffer through life like the other three million stutters in the U.S. who believe stuttering is a curse.  I honestly found stuttering could be turned into a blessing.  Frankly, I started Coach Lee’s program at age 11 and I’m barely 13 now, but, think about it:  If a kid like me can stop it, why can’t you? You know you can!

After I began to stop stuttering, I set my eyes on new goals.  Some include learning to love to speak, others are speaking more in class.  My own goal is to become more outgoing to people.   Coach Lee says that we can find something to like about everyone and that we can learn something from anyone; so, why not try to find things to like and learn from everyone.  Those are goals of mine now.  This attitude makes me want to be more outgoing and that makes my life more fun.

I have a quote that Coach Lee has told me plenty of times; “We have a free choice to accept or reject thoughts.  Nothing compels us to think anything except our own desires.  Use your mental switch to dictate your thoughts… Believe that you can improve and you will.” – Frank S. Caprio M.D., psychiatrist.  I love those thoughts and I’m trying to live them.

That’s my story.  I hope that you liked it and, even more, I hope that you’ll tackle Coach Lee’s book and program.  If you do and stay with it, you’re going to be fluent, and a lot happier, too.  Maybe you and I will meet someday at a SAM Meeting.  I hope so.

ZAK, Florida, November 2021

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