Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sandra Merlo as guest blogger (I)

I am happy to present Sandra Merlo from Brasil as The Stuttering Brain's first guest blogger. It is her talk at the ISA conference on Personal and professional experiences:

My stuttering started between 3 and 4 years old. It was near when my brother was born, so my parents concluded “I was jealousy and I wanted attention”. Some years later, my brother and a cousin also started stuttering and my family concluded they were imitating me. The fact was that stuttering affected several members of my family. From this fact, I had my first wrong lesson: stuttering could be learnt from imitation.

I remember that when I was 6, I already had well established strategies of avoidance (speaking less, changing words, changing phrases, not speaking with some people and so on). Even so, I could not hide stuttering all the time no matter how hard I tried. But my mother repeatedly said I was not trying hard enough, because if I really wanted I would get it. The fact was that I could not control stuttering. From this fact, I had my second wrong lesson: I did not have enought will-power.

When I was a child, I also realized that my stuttering was better in some days, with some people and talking about some topics. The fact was that I realized my stuttering had an oscillation. From this fact, I had my third and fourth wrong lessons: stuttering should be psychological and if sometimes I was better, if I tried hard enough, I could always be better.

When I was a child, I also noticed my family, teachers and friends almost never talked about my stuttering. The fact was that there was a great silence about stuttering. From this fact, I had my fifth wrong lesson: stuttering should be a so shameful thing since no one talked about it.

When I was 10, my Portuguese teacher said I had to go to a “speech-language pathologist” (SLP). I had never heard this expression before. I did not know what a SLP did. I told my mother I would like to go to a SLP, but she remembered me my pediatrician has already explained that I just had to repeat fluently what I said stuttering. According to my pediatrician, if I did this, I would be cured from stuttering. The fact was that I had wrong professional advice. From this fact, I had my sixth wrong lesson: I did not need a therapy because I could overcome stuttering all by myself.

When I was 14, I was in a great suffering, suffering entirely alone, feeling very imcompetent and with absolutely no hope. So, I decided to commit suicide.

(To be continued…)

1 comment:

Alexander said...

Sandra seems to be narrating my own life history during adolescence and chilhood. I felt an enormous empathy with her narration. What is more impressive in her report is the universality of it. Sandra Merlo caught all my feelings on stuttering. Great text and great person.