Little Fish stutters, and has pretty much since the age of 3. It was one of those things that Mrs. Fish and I noticed and were largely poo-pooed by doctors, teachers and the like. Still, as teachers of special education, we knew something was amiss.
Scanning the intarwebz revealed very little information, most of it psuedo-scientific stuff that ranged between blaming the parents (you talk too fast) or the environment (she has too much pressure on her). Then, we discovered the National Stuttering Association. We corresponded with some people there and decided to go to the National Conference in Atlanta two years ago (farther down the page HERE).
There, we met amazing people, but more importantly, Little Fish met, for the first time, kids just like her. It was a revelation, and she came to a deeper understanding of her stuttering, as did we. I went from hoping for a "cure" to hoping she would be empowered like the people we saw before us. Most amazing were the teens, kids who had been through all sorts of garbage but come out on top as confident, competent, talented and gifted communicators. I even met a Yankee fan I could almost like....
This year was a reunion and a reconfirmation of all that, and more. We saw teens that we met who have now entered college, and it was incredible. One of the most important conference moments fro me was listening to Jay, a person who stutters and has CP, who is working on his Masters degree. His message was inspiring: don't let stuttering or anything define you or limit you. Stuttering is something you do, not who you are. If you choose not to be a victim, you will not be a victim. It was, for me, the best part of the conference.
I also enjoyed the resort with my family. Floating on the Lazy River at the hotel while gently drifting past the lizards, cacti and cackling birds was great, as was the water chute. I also got out to run in the early morning, before the temperature soared to 117 degrees, making everything quite unlivable out of doors.
The food in Arizona was amazing, but by far the best meal was a simple guacamole made table-side by our waiter. Simply unbelievable...Nom Nom Nom. I loved the spices of the Southwest cuisine, and chorizo is the food of the Gods.
We also had a fantastic time at the Phoenix Zoo, where we got to feed a giraffe! The walk was pretty warm, but it was soooooooo worth it. I thought the hyenas were really cool, too. I was looking at the javelinas when this kid next to me said, "Hey mom, look at this wolf!"
"Oh, very nice," said the mom.
"Ummmmmm...they're wild pigs," I said.
"What?" she asked, somewhat incredulously.
I just mumbled and left. How do you not know a wild pig from a wolf? Seriously.
The best thing about the NSA is how connected I feel with my family after it's all over. My wife, who bravely presents every year, educating parents about their rights in the education system and how to operate within that system to get the most for their children. My brave, strong, amazing daughter who continues to grow in ability and confidence. I love NSA for what it's given us and how much that grows every year.