My daughter chose a new book or 5 from our local library and, in her usual fashion, finished reading them all in a week. As she handed them back to me I noticed the title ‘The boy who made everyone laugh’ and asked her what it was like. She tells a new joke almost every day and I assumed that this book was adding to her stand up routine. However, it was more than this. She replied with, “ I have to warn you, mummy, that this is heartwarming.” What a thing to warn someone about, not that it is sad or scary but that it is heartwarming!
She is right, it truly is heartwarming and I would add inspiring and educational. The Boy who made everyone laugh is about a boy with a stutter , otherwise known as a stammer or more formally known as Childhood -Onset Fluency Disorder.
As a voice therapist, who uses holistic means to help those presenting with voice disorders, this book is my kind of read! So I read it and loved it and would recommend it to just about anyone.
There is mention of the use of singing to help ease the stammer, feeling the fear and doing it anyway, drumming or tapping a beat, remembering to breathe, and how to respond to someone when they are mid stammer.
I learned so much from this book, although it is fiction. Primarily, I learned that the best way to respond to the stammer is to wait and listen and not to help by finishing a sentence no matter how tempting it may be to draw the words out yourself rather than let that person strain to finish the sentence. Simply listen and let them get there and then respond. This may seem obvious but I know I don’t always do this.
The second thing I learned, as I read on, is that singing does help and rhythm too and I see this in my work which is why I do what I do! However, these things are not going to correct the ‘issue’ and one needs to remember that we are not looking for this. We are looking to allow that person to live their best life and gather tools to offer them coping strategies. This is neither prevention nor cure , it is about managing symptoms, making improvements and nurturing lives.
It reminds me of similar times when clients say to me that they do not like their speaking voices. I may have tried to change their voices, wanting to cure them and allow them to feel better about themselves when all I need to do is guide them towards acceptance and this allows them to feel better and then the voice is freed up to sound even better!
I am enough as I am.
Reading further, I learned how brave this character is and how many good friendships he is able to make and not one of them sees his stammer as being the most important thing about him. He likes to make others laugh and they laugh with him, not at him.
To my clients, you are enough as you are , and I hope that, as we develop your vocal confidence, we allow you to gain a clearer view of what others hear when you speak. Rarely, is it as negative as you are about yourself.
Let the world see and hear you being you.