Traditional Stuttering Therapy, Career Fairs, and No Employment
This stuttering therapy section will probably be sad to read. I have been debating for a long time if I should share my own experiences with employment with you on this page. I do realize people do not like to read any negative stuff. I suspect it is because negative stuff might remind them of their own experiences. Nevertheless, we all need to read it in order to learn the lessons, which will help us to live better lives.
Mary’s personal success story with employment, which she was kind enough to share with us on my Free section of this site, had a happy ending. My own story, on the other hand, did not for many years to come.
Many years ago, I ended up working as a security officer in the worst part of town. I was making merely five dollars per hour. I remember it was summer. I wore a special uniform, and I was sweating immensely. Being awfully close to getting a heat stroke, I had all that time to evaluate my life. There was nothing much to evaluate. Despite all my best efforts in school, I ended it up with ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to show for. The only question that seemed to pop up was as followed:
“What happened to me?”
In high school and college, I received a traditional stuttering therapy. That treatment consisted of learning prolongations, cancellations, and pull outs. I have received the same therapy for many years. I was trying to do my best to learn all techniques that could help me with speaking. I was surrounded with so much attention from graduate student clinicians that I was actually enjoying my speech therapy sessions despite the fact that they never worked for me.
All sessions were basically the same. I went to my college speech clinic after my classes. Each term, I was assigned a different student clinician to work with me. She used to flash several paper cards in the front of me. I was suppose to say the written words and sentences usually by prolonging the first sound of each word. Once I have gotten stuck in some word. I was suppose to pull out. Despite all my best efforts, stuttering has not changed much during those days. I continued to stammer badly, and I perceived myself as a severe stammerer.
However, one day came and everything had stopped. I showed up for my university graduation. I was happy and hopeful for just that day. After that day, I was left to face a real world on my own. Needless to say, I was scared. My traditional stuttering therapy was over. All those speech-language pathology clinicians were gone. I still could not put two words together without stuttering. The level of my disfluency during those times was extremely high.
Previously, I attended several career fairs in my university. I would give my resume to potential employers. I would go to various interviews only to see the door smashed at my face. I had good grades. I received a scholarship in university. I had plans and career goals much like other students. Nevertheless, there still was no job for me. These events took place when our economy was booming. Anybody could have gotten a job back then... anybody, but me.
I was intelligent to understand what was happening to me. My mouth was my main enemy. I could not get the words out. The employer would ask me various questions. I would get stuck in the middle of sentence. Instead of saying the words, I would make various sounds. Most employers probably thought I was a crazy person. At one point of time, I got so upset and frustrated I thought I was going to flash my university degree down the toilet. You see this communication disorder will not “kill” you. However, it does have a great ability to destroy any chance you might have at having a decent future. Stuttering does leave its mark. Often, this mark has a giant impact on a person's past, present, and future.
Since I needed to make money somehow to survive. I had to go to apply for various security officer's positions. I knew I still could get one of those positions. I did not have to talk much anyway. Those positions did not require any formal education and paid minimum wage.
The main problem was to get through a job interview without being perceived as a crazy person. Prior to my job interviews, I signed up for security guard classes, which lasted two days. They were offered on the weekend. I passed my final examination and achieved a nearly perfect score. Since there were several security guard agencies around, I went to all of them to apply for a position. I had problems when I spoke to their secretaries because a big window glass separated me and them. Many security agencies use various protection devices inside. A big bullet proof window glass is one of them.
Luckily, I could just point at their employment applications because I could see them through the window, and I did not have to talk very much anyway. When I was filling out those applications for employment, I was ashamed of myself. I knew my university friends who graduated with me received good employment offers. They were living a good life. They could use their college degrees, and I could not.
Things are suppose to look up when one gets a college degree. For me, things looked very bad. Luckily, there was still a big need for security guards in my area. I received few interviews with security agencies. The interviews did not turn out as scary as I thought they were going to be. I was not doing much talking anyway. The potential employers did all the talking for me. I had to hide the fact that I already received a college degree. Since I kept taking one college course during the summer, I wrote that I was still attending university on my resume. Otherwise, I would have been unemployed.
As I mentioned earlier, I got a job in the worst part of town. The area was so bad that the same grocery store got rubbed twice in the same month. It seemed to me that people around me used heavy drugs and were in the gangs. I felt like I was losing my mind at times. While working my shifts, I asked myself the same question with even more intensity than I had ever before:
“What happened to me?”
More and more similar questions began to appear in my mind.
What happened to my life? What happened to my plans and dreams? How am I going to survive in this world? Why do I always go through bad times? How am I going to deal with stuttering now when my traditional stuttering therapy has continuously failed to work?
The answers to most questions were obvious. Although I had all employment skills and abilities, I could not really take advantage of them. They were literally locked and not within my reach. Stuttering has “locked” them. I could not unlock them without speaking fluently.
I knew something had to be done. I did not enjoy my younger years because I was desperate. I was desperate to change my life for the better. Although I was continuously thinking about possible ways to change my life, I could not really come up with anything useful. I tried speech pathology techniques. I tried every self-therapy I could get my hands on. I tried intensive workshops. I did read all books on stuttering. I tried electronic devices. However, success has evaded me much like any employer did.
What was my solution to being without a decent job?
I pursued my graduate studies. Things did not turn out as well as I thought they should have turned out. You see most professors in those graduate-level courses required students to speak in the front of everybody. To my own shock, the grades in those classes depended on my ability to speak. Luckily, I was already experimenting with alternative medicine therapies. Alternative medicine therapy was a new stuttering therapy for me that was successful. My life did change eventually for the better.