13-year-old Brayden Harrington shares how Joe Biden helped him overcome his stutter at #DemConvention:
"I'm just a regular kid, and in a short amount of time Joe Biden made me more confident about something that's bothered me my whole life." pic.twitter.com/WnSAJBCubW
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 21, 2020
I think the reason this affected me so deeply is because I had a mild speech impediment when I was a kid.
It was nothing like Brayden’s or Biden’s. I simply couldn’t say my “r’s.” They came out as “w’s.” So roar became wore, rocky was wocky, and trouser was twouser, although I doubt I ever said the word trouser when I was 10.
I was self-conscious about it, but don’t remember getting teased for it. Those were the days of neighborhood schools in Tulsa, Okla., and I was with kids I had known my entire life. We were in kindergarten together and they knew me and my funny words. That, plus my natural introversion, helped.
But I was aware of it. And thought about it.
Fortunately for me, my neighborhood school had plenty of resources. In the fifth grade, I and another student were sent to a speech therapist for an hour twice a week. We met in a room that must have been designed as a broom closet because it was tiny and dark.. But I liked going because the teacher was nice and I got out of class. (Probably the reason it wasn’t until high school that I actually learned grammar rules.) The other student, whom I didn’t know well, had a mild stutter. Watching her frustration with her speech and how hard she worked at it taught me.
The teacher walked me through what was probably simple speech therapy, rolling my tongue in certain ways and speaking each syllable in a word slowly carefully. I was sent home with sentences to read, which my mother, a professional psychologist, helped me with.
I don’t remember how long this went on; my sense is that I corrected my speech relatively quickly, but it could have been weeks. But everything else is as clear as yesterday.
I don’t tell this story to compare myself to Brayden Harrington because there is no comparison. I have the deepest admiration for what he did last night. (Here is the backstory.) I couldn’t have done it at that age. I tell it because it one of the clearer memories of my youth.