Friday, July 16, 2010

National Stuttering Association Annual Conference: Part II

The best part of the NSA Conference is the people, and this year my family was very involved with the conference. Mrs. Fish gave a presentation for the third year on how to negotiate the Individualized Education Program to get the best services for your child. There have been a lot of changes and Mrs. Fish offered a lot of help to the parents there.

The highlight for me was the NSA All-Stars presentation. About a month ago, Li'l Fish was asked if she would like to give a 3-5 minute speech to the entire conference on a topic of her choice. She chose to speak about what it's like to be a kid who stutters, how to be an advocate for yourself, and how to stand up to bullies. After her speech, she sat with the other five panelists and answered questions. I have never been prouder.

Li'l Fish's speech:
I have to confess something before I start. When I started thinking about this speech, I really wasn’t sure what to start with or what I wanted to say. I’m just a kid who wants to advocate for myself and others who stutter. My name is [Li'l Fish](I know, it’s a long name to stutter on – it’s not my fault. I didn’t choose it). I am a twelve year-old from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and I want to talk about being a student who stutters, and how to be an advocate for yourself, especially against bullies.

Speaking in public used to scare me. I didn’t want to stand out from others. Now I know it’s good to stand out. I have been made fun of because I stutter. But, this is a place where I can be myself without worrying about other people’s criticism. People make fun of what they don’t understand. So if enough people understand stuttering, things will become easier for stutterers. Be an advocate: stand up for yourself. It took me a while to figure that out.

All of my friends know that I stutter and they’re okay with it. If people ask me what it is, then I tell them. I try to make as many people as aware as possible. If someone makes fun of me, it doesn’t matter. But, I try to tell them about stuttering, so they at least know what it is. My stuttering makes me special in my own way. And, I’m good just the way I am. Although I am very positive now, I wasn’t always this perky. It was hard for me to make friends when I switched schools this year. It may be hard for many of you to believe, but I was shy. Incredibly shy. People thought I was quiet because I didn’t like speaking, but they didn’t know why. Finally, I got tired of being ignored. It didn’t matter what people thought – I wanted to make friends. I met a girl named Mikala. I called her Kayla because saying the M-I made me stutter too much. After I opened up, we became close, and I started making many other friends. I had a friend who was pretty tall, almost 6 feet. When he heard someone making fun of me, he said he would help. Adjin had a “discussion” with the bully. The next day? No more bullying. I am glad he was there to help, but now I also know how to take care of myself.

I think all stutterers should be able to advocate for themselves without being scared. You are the only you (unless someone commits identity theft then there is two of you). But you shouldn’t let anyone bring you down.

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