This article was first printed in the Summer 2012 issue of CSA Voices
Wayne Lyrette is a man of words, and he uses them to tell us what he is thinking, how he is feeling, and what his hopes are for himself and the world around him. And he expresses them through speaking, writing, running and song.
He is a husband, father, musician and a person who stutters. Anyone who has heard Wayne perform is impressed by his song-writing ability …he has been playing regularly at Whispers, a west-end Ottawa pub, at the open mic night on Mondays, and has had a great response from the usual packed house.
There are several members in Wayne’s family who stutter including his father, oldest brother, sister and a cousin. None of them ever took any formal speech therapy, but more than twenty years ago Wayne took the intensive course speech therapy course at the Ottawa Rehab Centre and became quite fluent.
But not too long ago while reading to his son he realized he had, to some degree, lost this fluency. An incident at a border crossing, when he had problems answering a simple question asked by the customs and immigration officer, also helped convinced Wayne to return for more therapy. Wayne went back to the Rehab centre last year to take the semi-intensive course. Returning to therapy took courage. He felt like a failure and was overly critical of himself.
The importance of attitude
One of Wayne’s biggest attribute is his positive attitude. He knew he needed help and that he had to relearn the tools he had known previously for fluent speech. At the same time realized what was most important – to make his best effort at controlling his speech with his family, not just friends and acquaintances and people at work. He made fluent speech a priority with those closest to him.
Anyone who has been to one of Wayne’s performances is struck by the wide range of themes and situations covered by his songs. He can show how a simple conversation with someone can trigger a song about what is really important in life (A Night’s Sleep). How everyday situations like a call late at night can cause you to question your relationships (Do You Understand?); the importance of being socially and politically aware (Turn the Page); the simple act of seeing someone you are attracted to and want to connect with (Burning For You)... and many more.
The pressures of performing vs speaking
Wayne says that one of his biggest fears is singing a song for the first time to a crowd that doesn’t know he stutters. In these cases, he finds self-identifying as a stutterer relieves a lot of tension. One night after a performance someone approached Wayne wanting to talk about another person he knew who stuttered. This is an example of how something can be changed from a fear to a strength. Often people want to talk about it, but aren’t sure how to ask. It was only because Wayne brought stuttering up first, in public, that others feel comfortable in asking.By being up-front about stuttering and expressing himself with music, he can help others help themselves.
Wayne is also a runner; the 5K is his distance. He does it about three times a week, in part for exercise, but also because he believes it was a start of his self-analysis which in turn pushed him back to the clinic and speech therapy to regain what he felt he had, if not lost, misplaced. The other interesting aspect he noticed about speech and running is that he never stutters when he runs when chatting with someone he’s running with, he never feels any loss of control. He believes the rhythmic breathing that happens when he runs is a big factor in the fluency of his speech.
He summed up his feelings about his speech, his writing and his life wonderfully: "I think the confidence I have gained by taking a look at myself and knowing that I can change, and the great support of the clinic and my family are the key contributors to being able to face the challenges of running, performing and realizing my fluency."
If you get the opportunity, give Wayne a listen. What he has to say should be heard.
To hear a few of Wayne’s songs that he has recorded himself go to www.myspace.com/waynelyrette