My name is Liv, I’m 10 years old, and I’m a PWS. Do you know what that stands for? It stands for “a Person Who Stutters”. When I stutter I get blocked and my words get stuck. My speech muscles can get really tight which makes it difficult to get the sound out. What helps me is for others to give me time and wait until I finish; because what I want to say is just as important as what you want to say. What does not help me is finishing the sentence or the word for me.

Speech is actually really complicated. You need your brain, lips, lungs, teeth, tongue, and voice box just for one sound and there are many sounds in each word.

No one knows why we stutter, but because speech has so many steps it’s not a surprise.

Some of the tools I use to help me are: Light Contact, Easy Stutter, and Easing Out.

Light Contact is when I try to decrease the muscle tension in a body part when I’m stuck. For example, try touching your fingertip to your nose. Pretty easy, right? Now tense the muscles in your arm and try again: much harder!

An Easy Stutter is when I let the stutter happen with less tension. Often trying not to stutter can make stuttering worse. An Easy Stutter can prevent a hard stutter.

Easing Out is when I stop during a stutter and find where the tension is in my body and then ease the tension and move on.

Do you know any famous people who stutter? I do. Joe Biden, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, and Emily Blunt. There are people all around you that stutter. 3 million in the United States alone and 90 (including me) in my small town in Alaska. About 1 in every 100 people stutter.

One of the most important things I’ve learned about stuttering is: It’s ok to stutter!