As a speech-language pathologist, Deborah Boswell has always been passionate about working with people who stutter. We were able to chat with Deborah about the origins of her stuttering journey, her current practice, and how her local Birmingham NSA Chapter got its start!
Deborah: I started my private practice in 1998. Over time I have had 3 different office locations on the same road in our city of Hoover, AL….suburb of Birmingham, AL. One afternoon I was working alone in the office when I heard the bell ring indicating someone had just entered the office. I called out from my office…”may I help you?” No answer. I called out again. No answer. I became irritated because we had numerous people back then who would come in selling peanut brittle, phone cards, etc. I got up and walked out preparing to scoot someone out of my office so I could get back to work.
There standing in my waiting room was a postal worker. I recall it was in the summer and he had on a shorts and postal shirt. I just looked at him and said in an irritated tone “may I help you”? Then it all came tumbling down. This gentleman started to speak……”I-I-I-I dddddeliver your mmmmmmmmail ffffor aaaal the ooooffices yuhyuhyuhou have had on LuhLuhLuhorna Rd. I I I I I have noticed you ggggggggggget mmmmmmmmail a-a-a-a-a-bout stuh stuh stuh ssssssstuttering.” He went on to ask if I have a support group for people like him who stutter. (by the way he grew up on Long Island so he said “stuttah”. I loved that!)
After wiping my eyes from crying and feeling frustration at myself for being so short with him at the beginning I responded that I did not offer a support group but have always wanted to and would he help me start one? That was the beginning of our stuttering support group. First meeting I believe we had 3 people….me, Michael, and a friend of his who stuttered- Charles. That was approximately 11 or 12 years ago and we are still going strong. Initially, we just formed our group and put ads in the paper and then eventually saw the value of aligning with the NSA. The rest is history!