How I came to realize stuttering is my gift that keeps on giving!

Dan&MaryIn honour of the upcoming one-day Canadian Stuttering Association conference, CSA board member Daniele Rossi is featuring interviews with attendees from our events in the past.

Kicking off our series is long-time conference attendee and presenter Mary Wood. Mary recently gave a number of workshops at the National Stuttering Association in Baltimore, one of which on forgiveness. In the video at the end of this article we chat briefly about her workshop and what forgiveness means to a PWS. Let’s get to know a little more about Mary...


1. Tell us about yourself.

I am a mother, a grandmother, a Unity minister, and a PWS. I first attended a CSA conference in Ottawa in 1993 back when it was called CAPS (Canadian Association for People who Stutter). Since then I have attended conferences organized by the National Stuttering Association, the British Stammering Association, the International Stuttering Association, and the International Fluency Association. Each one has been a wonderful learning, loving and laughter-filled  experience.

2. What was it like for you to grow up stuttering?

"I was a covert stutterer so I was always trying to figure out what I could say without stuttering..."I was a covert stutterer so I was always trying to figure out what I could say without stuttering...  a busy mind with so many thoughts.  My father also stuttered but we never talked about "it" so I thought it was this terrible thing I did. I can remember feeling different, isolated at times, and scared. Feeling left out when teachers didn't ask me to answer questions.

3. What is your favourite memory of the CSA conferences?

OMG, so many wonderful experiences that always focus on the stories, the tears, the laughter, and the love we shared with each other... Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary - Meeting an 80-year old man at his first conference, and hearing about the connection he felt with PWS and himself for the first time... ISAD days with parents, kids, SLPS and PWS...

4.  What difference has the CSA made to you? 

"The CSA [means] there is always support, someone to talk with who listens and understands."The CSA has offered me the opportunity to face my fear by presenting workshops, learning from speakers who bring their knowledge and perspectives, and by realizing that there is always support, someone to talk with who listens and understands. 

5.  Do you have a tip you'd like to share with others who stutter? 

I have come to realize my journey was never about fluency, but was, and still is, about what stuttering revealed to me that I didn't know was there – feelings of low self-worth and the fear of rejection. As I delved deeper into these feelings, at last I came to realize stuttering is my gift, a gift that just keeps on giving....

Thanks Mary!

This year, the Canadian Stuttering Association’s one-day National Conference will be taking place on Saturday, October 24 at the North York Centre on 5100 Yonge Street in Toronto. Further details including how to register are available here. Take advantage of early bird pricing before September 13, 2015!