Student takes stand against bullying, won’t let stutter hold him back

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(June 4,2015)- Jacob Valdez is one of the four million people in this country who stutters. But he’s decided it’s not going to hold him back.

He tested his belief after he encountered a bully at his school, The Math and Science Academy on West 38th Street.

“When he brought up the bullying,” says Dana Stewart, Jacob’s speech therapist at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, “I mentioned it’s really important to educate those around you because sometimes bullying happens when the kids don’t understand, and they don’t really know what’s true and what’s false about stuttering.”

So, Jacob put together a presentation about stuttering that included facts and fiction about his condition and read it to the class. They responded positively to him and the bully stopped his teasing.

Stuttering, as Jacob learned, is a complex, multidimensional disorder.  It occurs among 5-8 percent of children, between the ages of 2 and 6.  It’s believed that 70 to 80 percent  of those children will outgrow their stuttering.

Early intervention helps identify those at risk and provides much needed resources for stuttering.

By taking on the bully with his presentation, not only did he stop that student in his tracks, he empowered himself.

“It gives him so much confidence in the way he talks, it also gives him a little bit more empowerment to feel like he’s a little bit more in control,” says Stewart.

Although there is no cure for stuttering, treatment involves reduction of fears and avoidances, strengthening of self-perception, management of stuttering and improvements in communication skills.

Jacob is working on eye contact and slowing a bit before he responds in conversations.

His mother was unsure about the idea of a class presentation, but now that he’s done it, he's very proud of his accomplishment.

“I was proud, I was happy, that he finally stuck up for himself.  Before he wouldn’t say anything,” says Melissa Ann Dover, mother of Jacob.

Jacob will be a freshman at the Math and Science Academy this fall.  When he graduates, he’s thinking he would like to join the Air Force.

For more information on stuttering, contact the Pediatric-Adolescent Therapy Program at St. Vincent Hospital at 8220 Naab Road, Suite 300, Indianapolis, Indiana 46240. The phone number is 317-415-5500.

4 Your Health is presented by American Senior Communities.

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