Yaakov’s Unusual Stutter

Yaakov’s Unusual Stutter

My 6-year-old, Yaakov, has a stutter that is unusual because it comes and goes once a year or so. I was stumped regarding the trigger of this on-again, off again stutter, until I realized a few years ago that Yaakov would start stuttering when my husband is abroad. And the stutter would promptly disappear when Abba came home.

But a few weeks ago, Yaakov started stuttering again. And my husband is home. This is the first time that has ever happened.

So in my weekly therapeutic writing workshop, when our amazing instructor Yocheved Rottenberg asked us to think of a not-so-big challenge we are facing in our lives, I thought of Yaakov’s on-again, off-again stutter.

Then Yocheved gave each of us a slip a paper with a word on it, and told us to take a minute writing about our challenge from that perspective.

My first slip read: EMOTIONAL
And here’s what I wrote:
Yaakov is stuttering because he is falling apart emotionally. There is something stressful going on at school. He is feeling disconnected from my husband and me because he spends SO MANY hours out of the house. And what’s going to be when my husband goes away to conduct interviews in the US next month??!!!

Then Yocheved told us to pass our slips over to the person on our right…

My next slip read: SPIRITUAL
And I wrote:
Every soul comes into the world with its Yeud and its Tikkun, its mission and its aspects in need of spiritual fixing. And Yaakov’s soul also came down with its gifts and challenges. These are the challenges he must struggle with in order to grow and complete his G-d given mission and tikkun in the world.

Then came: PESSIMISTIC

This is terrible, and what if this continues into adulthood?! Just think of all the careers that will be closed to him–teaching, etc.

Then: RELATIONSHIPS

Who will want to be friends with a boy with a terrible stutter? It’s difficult to speak to somebody like that!

Then: OBJECTIVE

A significant percentage of young children go through periods of stuttering. It is rare for stuttering to continue into adolescence, and all the more so into adulthood.

Then, finally: HOPEFUL

Yaakov’s stuttering comes and goes, and it will this time too. It must be because of stress over the transition to 1st grade. By the end of Chanukah, maximum Tu b’Shvat, it will be gone.

Afterwards, Yocheved asked us to read over our responses and reflect on them.

And reading them over, I felt EMPOWERED. I could CHOOSE my reaction to this challenge.

Why not choose to be HOPEFUL, OBJECTIVE, SPIRITUAL instead of EMOTIONAL and PESSIMISTIC. Why make life harder than it has to be?”

Yocheved tied up the class, I think quite brilliantly, with a quote from Dr. Seuss:

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

AMEN!

7 comments

  1. Sounds like such a fun and helpf activity. Can’t wait to try it.
    Btw, I think you once mentioned his stutter before and i remember relating because my 9 year old son has one too. I think his is related to emotions too, although I just realized that while responding to you right now.

  2. Beth Berman

    My daughter suffered from her stuttering throughout elementary school and especially in junior high school, with classmates and teachers who would finish her sentences for her, or not call on her because it would take too long. In high school, she decided to “own her stuttering” — she announced to all her new classmates that she stuttered, and that it was not going to hold her back. Her outgoing personality blossomed, she became school student council president as a senior, and even spoke at graduation. (Shout out in Israel to YTA!!) An amazing book that helped guide her is “The Gift of Stuttering” by Moe Mernick. I HIGHLY recommend it!

  3. Isn’t it also a gift to know why your son is stuttering? So many challenges for no known cause and because of that, there is often little one can do. Is there any way to find a less stressful and more calming place for him to be in. He’s still so young….Much hatzlacha to you both!

  4. I really really love this post. I am already using this strategy with my own worries/fears with my kids and it’s very helpful! Thank you for sharing this!

  5. This method of organising thoughts and emotions is exactly what i need right now. Thank you for sharing with us.

    • I also just used it again yesterday for another issue–it’s very helpful!

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