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  • Lori Melnitsky

What Joe Biden has taught us about stuttering…

Many of you have asked my opinion of Joe Biden in regard to stuttering so let me explain a few things.

First the word stutterer is a label. The preferred term is a person who stutters. It is also a person with ADHD, a person with autism, a person with a bad leg, a person with glasses, etc. Understanding this is key to respecting others.

People who stutter are as smart as anyone else. This is a life I have lead and I would be lying if I did not state it still pains me. Looking into the eyes and seeing bewilderment, laughter and confusion when I have stuttered is not a new concept. This is not new to me and the people I know who stutter. This is not new to Joe Biden. He can handle it. Interrupting and badgering someone who stutters might increase stuttering but it damn well will not stop him. He has been through this.

If we can practice better listening skills, patience, respecting other opinions than we can stop the distraction of talking about stuttering and sounding incoherent. This is not political. It is human kindness and decency.

Hear me roar and listen to me…..Stop focusing on the stuttering. That will not change the issues you personally want changed. I cannot change the world but I can increase awareness of stuttering and be a better role model. Let’s hope we can all do that and be a little kinder. For those of you who do not know, speech pathologists at a local university looked me in the eyes 30 years ago and said I should not be a speech pathologist. They also reminded me that people in wheelchairs should not be teachers. It was disgraceful. Now it is our turn to demonstrate differences are just that. They are differences and some of those perceived idiosyncratic behaviors are our strengths and contribute to the world’s challenges in remarkable ways.

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