The importance of humour and moving forward with change

Sally PetersonSally Petersen, right,
with friend Annie Bradbury
In anticipation of our upcoming conference on October 24, we continue with Daniele Rossi's interviews with people who have attended conferences in the past. He  travels south of the border once again and chats with Sally Peterson who has attended many conferences over the years, including in Canada.

 1. Tell us about yourself.

I am a mom, grandma, and a 55 year old woman who stutters. I have struggled with depression like most of us but at the same time I have always been resilient and have searched for happiness. In 1996 I attended a 3½ week intensive program at Eastern Washington University. It was there my life changed. My life didn’t change because I stuttered less. Yes, I learned tools to help me stutter easier but most important, my life changed because I learned to accept my stutter.

I’ve been a member of the National Stuttering Association for 37 years and today I find my desire to attend the annual conferences is not only for my stutter, but mostly to see my extended family and truthfully to steal my girlfriend Annie’s shoes.

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

Life was pretty uneventful until my parents and I moved when I was 13. I entered a new school and was  attacked on all sides. Not used to being teased about my stuttering and really not talking much about it. Yes, I had speech therapy at my old school but the year I moved I was no longer in speech therapy. This is when I remember stuttering becoming an issue. From this point on stuttering is when stuttering became a huge obstacle, a hated part of me. I learned coping mechanisms, picked up avoidance behaviors, did whatever I had to in order to not stutter and thankfully had a ton of friends. I relied on my ability to make friends in every group at school in order to survive.

3. What is your favourite memory/experience of CSA?

Meeting the people, exploring the beautiful country of Canada and realizing that my stuttering has benefits as I traveled.

4. What difference has the Canadian Stuttering Association made to you?

The people. I have come to love so many… and again the experiences I had attending conferences from East to Western Canada.

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

It doesn’t matter. Don’t let you stutter hold you back.  Live life now. Stop waiting for things to change. Always hold onto your sense of humor.