By Arturo Lara
Hello everybody, my name is Arturo Lara and I am a grateful Recovered Bilingual Stutterer, who for the past 53 years has been able to break the habits of my own stuttering and this is my story of what happened to me and how I was able to recover. I started elementary school at the age of 6 and was detained in the kinder garden for two years then given a double promotion afterwards. The reason for the detention was based upon my inability to speak and learn the English language. Also, during this time, I experienced heavy humiliation of shame since I was made fun of the way I sounded when I talked. I totally tended to isolated myself from being involved in human relationships because I fear intimacy. I had terrible fear of public speaking inside and outside the classroom since I spoke in a very quiet soft and jerky voice which made it impossible for anyone to hear me and understand me as to what I was saying and that irritated me and them.
I got labeled a “stutterer” in a very early age by my peer group and I hated the label when I just couldn’t face the stigma that was involved; therefore, it created a constant low self stem and confusion throughout my childhood, adolescent and early adulthood. My stuttering only show up when I spoke not when I sang.
Here is where my stuttering problem started and also my overeating and alcohol problems originated. I wasn’t aware of them because I was in total denial that I had them. I experienced segregation on a daily basis from Elementary-Junior High and thru High School. This segregation added more years to my problem since I was constantly reprimand during recess to speak only English which I couldn’t speak at all and to pronounce the vowels and words that were involved in learning the English language. I didn’t receive any type of help from anyone so my stuttering as a result got worse until my High School Counselor brought it up to my attention during my senior year by asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told him that I wanted to be a teacher and he said you won’t make it because you can not talk clearly. Also, my other high school teachers told me the same thing. Thus, I became more aware that I had an acute stuttering problem.
I then decided to attend Western New Mexico University-located in Silver City, NM. Before they would admit me, I had to take and pass a speech test which I took but I also failed. The speech professor told me that it would take 4½ years of speech therapy work to eliminate my problem and ask me if I was willing to accept what she had told me that I needed to do. I said “yes.” She told me that I needed to enroll in her Speech Correction Class and that credit would be given only once for my first semester and not for any other. I enrolled in this Speech Correction Class only to find out that there were five other students besides me who had the same problem but they were not studying to become teachers. Furthemore, she told me if I made it by the fourth year, I could take the same test over again and if I passed the test, I could then apply for a student teaching assignment. It was not easy for me to have made this decision and follow through on this detailed plan of recovery but I was able to make it only by the grace of God.
I had attend to four summer sessions of speech therapy work with speech teachers who were working on their master’s degrees. It was their that I learned how to pronounce the vowels and words and how to use them properly in sentences. I would go home and stay late at night studying them with a mirror in front of my face and I found it very difficult and hard but I didn’t quit.
As the last semester of my college was about to end, my speech professor informed us in class that only one of her five students was going to pass. Right away, I knew that it was me since I had done and was doing more work than the other students.
I took the speech test again and I passed it with flying colors and she told me that I could now apply to be considered a candidate for a student teaching assignment at the High School. My application passed successfully.
I arrived at the school were I had graduated from only to find the same unfriendly teachers of mine who had told me that it was impossible for me to become a teacher. The first few weeks were rough but I managed to have survived and was able to restablish the necessary rapport that I needed in order to become a successful student teacher.
Towards the end of my student teaching assignment semester, my high school supervisor died and I was hired to replaced her. Because I had completed my student teacher assignment successfully, my College Supervisor recommended that I’ll be awarded the 1962 National Business Education Award.
By this time, my struggles with stuttering had come to an end at the age of 23 and I was hired in 1963 at C.C. Snell Junior High School located at Bayard, NM., as the first Chicano Cobre Teacher to teach type writing to the disadvantaged students and I was able to have taught them successfully for 12 years. Also, I have taught typing in other school districts.
Only by the Grace of God, I have not had a desire to stutter for the last 53 years of my life and I owe it to God- my speech professor- speech teachers and you people who have prayed for me and have told me that I am not and have not been a piece of junk.
If anyone is inspired or will be inspired by my story, all it takes is a total commitment on a daily basis from yourself to address the problem and get into the solution of it “One Day At A Time”. You must develop a solid recovery attitude and be able to reach out for help as I did and then you will be able to experience a miracle such as the one I was able to achieve.
Published Feb. 10, 2015