Stuttering is not an issue that typically garners a lot of media attention. My Beautiful Stutter, soon available on Discover+, aims to build awareness to children who suffer in silence due to their stutter.
The statistic is eye-opening. Seventy million people worldwide stutter. That’s about 1% of the population. Moreover, while some children grow out of their stutter, there is no cure. My Beautiful Stutter is a documentary that primarily follows five kids with stutters who are all connected by The Stuttering Association for the Young (SAY). SAY is a New York-based program focused on empowering and building a community for children with stutters. Many of these children suffer from low self-esteem, are discouraged from participating in school, and some have depression and suicidal thoughts. SAY is their safe space to speak without judgment and to recognize that they are not alone.
The founder of SAY, Taro Alexander, offers insight into the experience of children with stutters. He specifically reflects on growing up without knowing anyone else with a stutter as well as being cast as an outsider. Alexander also communicates in the documentary how it took him a while to accept that it is ok that he stutters.
SAY offers many programs and benefits for children with stutters, but the majority of the documentary takes place at Camp SAY. Alexander sought to build a hub where children of varying ages from all over the U.S. and the world could come to connect with other kids with stutters. He accomplished this with an annual two-week summer camp. At Camp SAY the campers make friends, share their stories, and learn to become more confident with their studies. From the kids’ interviews paired with their discussions during camp activities, it is clear that many of the children share experiences of bullying even from their teachers. They are often cast off as unintelligent because of their stutters. Regrettably, even people with good intentions interrupt them when they are trying to communicate.
An overarching message of My Beautiful Stutter is that a stutter is not something that needs to be fixed. Though the message that “everyone is perfect just the way that they are” is not unique, the ignorance in regard to people with stutters often challenges this statement. I’m sure many people have the assumption that children with stutters should take extensive therapy, if available, in order to fix or at least improve their speech. This is even a belief that many of the parents in the movie once held and few continue to believe. My Beautiful Stutter is quite successful at showing that stutters are not something that needs to be fixed. Rather, others should exercise more patience listening to what these individuals have to say.
The documentary shines a light on these children with stutters and lets their intelligence, compassion, and talent take center stage. By the end of the movie, you’ll have almost felt like you were at camp with the children and too experienced the moments where they were able to see their stutter as something beautiful.
My Beautiful Stutter will stream exclusively on discovery+ starting March 11.