It’s a speech disorder in which a person appears to struggle to speak. Just one percent of the U.S. population stutters.
But last week the speech impediment stole the spotlight on American Idol. 21-year-old Lazaro Arbos wowed the judges when he sang beautifully after stuttering through his audition interview.
And he’s proving to be an inspiration to others struggling with the same disorder. There is no way to prevent or cure this stammering speech.
But you can improve it through therapy.
The Center for Stuttering Therapy in Denver has helped people for 20 years.
“My name is Lazaro. I’m from Cuba,” the Florida resident tells the four American Idol judges when they ask him his name.
It’s difficult for Arbos to answer judge’s questions.
Stuttering has wounded him deeply all his life. “No one wanted to hang out with me in school because I had no friends to go out with. So I be home,” says an emotional Lazaros.
But he had no problem singing.
“Like a bridge over troubled waters,” sings the ice cream scooper.
“I could feel the beauty of what he wanted to say and who he was. People who stutter are very, very wonderfully warm, genuine special people and I could feel that emanate from him. I could see the pain he was feeling,” says Patty Walton, owner of Center for Stuttering Therapy at 2696 S. Colorado Blvd. in Denver.
It’s pain Walton also feels knowing therapy could have changed his life.
She’s helped people who stutter for 30 years.
“It’s so hard to see that belief that nothing works. And we don’t know how to help it. Because the reality is, many of us know how to help it,” says Walton.
Nash Jekot is someone Watson has helped.
The 16-year-old from Arapahoe High School has stuttered since he was five.
He avoided certain words he couldn’t say fluently.
“At one point it got so bad I was changing what I was saying to avoid certain words. That’s when it crosses the line, you can’t do this,” Jekot says he told himself.
And now with once-a-week therapy, he’s made significant stuttering strides.
“I was the shy kid on the speech and debate team who had a lot of things to say but wouldn’t say them. I would be too afraid to the point I would shake.”
Now speech which he used to fear has earned him awards and confidence on the team.
“Therapy is the way to go. They will teach you techniques and tools you will use every day of your life to have more fluent speech,” he says.
Walton posted on Arbos’ Facebook page that she hopes someday that one person will come into his life who’ll be able to help him.
She hopes he keeps an open mind about therapy. Walton says a lot of people don’t think therapy works.
But she says you have to find a speech therapist who specializes in stuttering.
She says the Stuttering Foundation of America is a great resource and provides therapy referrals in this area.