There are many lessons in life to be learned as person who stutters (PWS) and as a parent of child who stutters. Regan Espinosa is the mother of a young child who stutters, and as a way to help her daughter and herself better adjust to life, she’s written a remarkable children’s book, Santa Stutters Too! (available on Amazon).
We were recently able to sit down and chat with Regan and she opened up about her motivations and dreams with Santa Stutters Too!. Thank you to Regan for sharing so much with us, and for writing a children’s book that will help so many within the stuttering community!
Your daughter inspired you to write Santa Stutters Too!, but what inspired you to use Santa’s joyful “HO, HO, HO” as the springboard for your story?
My daughter, Neeva, is five years old and started stuttering at age two. We were talking one day and we talked about how Santa, like Neeva, also has words that “stick” in his mouth, such as “Ho, Ho, Ho.” Developmentally, Neeva is too young to be aware of her stuttering, so instead she says, “My words are stuck! Stuck!” Santa is someone that I felt my daughter could relate to, and that’s how Santa Stutters Too! was born.
What’s your dream for Santa Stutters Too!?
My dream for the book is that it can be provided to not just children that stutter, but to all children. I want it to be understood from a very early age how to be patient and kind to one another. I want people to see stuttering in a new way. Ultimately that desire began when Neeva was three years old and received a negative comment from an older boy in our neighborhood. This child was talking with Neeva’s older brothers and asked, “Why does your sister talk so funny?” My sons are so protective of their sister that they kicked the boy out of our house in the middle of their play date!
I hope that this simple children’s book can help others to avoid these difficult situations that are painful to process and can leave emotional scars. I would also love for healthcare and teaching professionals to be open to this book, and for them to share with those within their practice.
You were able to get your daughter speech therapy help at a very young age; how has therapy helped your daughter?
Lee, Neeva’s speech therapist, as well as the university professors have helped Neeva in many ways. We aren’t looking for answers or solutions, but more for understanding. Therapy has been a part of the process, and at times, a small one. Rather it’s been a lot of caregiver education for myself and my husband and our family. As a pediatric occupational therapist, I can relate to much of this. However, with Neeva receiving speech therapy for stuttering it brought the attention to the family that this is not a phase. This is not in my head. This is real.
As a mom, what have you learned most about yourself during this journey of having a young daughter who stutters?
This is something I reflect on often, especially as I was writing the book. I was nearing 40 when I had Neeva, and I was on an antidepressant for depression. I thought that I had somehow caused her stuttering. The speech therapists I consulted said that this was just a phase, and that I was making something out of nothing. I then hated that Neeva’s stutter wouldn’t go away, and I worried that it was my fault.
My sister is a speech-language pathologist, and it was at her direction that we got Neeva help from a local university. And now, with the help of her speech therapist, I have found a new perspective on stuttering. I am no longer afraid to let my Facebook Live video go longer, even if she starts to stutter. I no longer hear the struggle. I now hear Neeva’s determination and excitement, and I love this! So much so, that I wanted to share it through this children’s book.