Accepting stuttering: Mike’s Friends and Family Day speech


At the end of every AIS intensive stuttering therapy program, we have Friends and Family Day, where clients invite their friends and family to watch them give a speech. It’s the highlight of every intensive program here, when the clients face their fears and embrace the freedom to speak.

The August intensive program had their Friends and Family Day last week, and we are happy to report that we can share some of the speeches. Here is Mike Delgado’s speech, entitled A Free Man.

A Free Man

My name is Mike Delgado. I am a proud stutterer working on my speech, please be patient as I use my techniques.

Three weeks ago I walked in to this very room feeling excited and a bit frightful. I was flooded with waves of emotions and expectations. I knew that the next 3 weeks would be challenging yet essential in overcoming the obstacles I have been facing my entire life. On the first day, a group of 8 strangers sat in a circle and began a journey that we could only imagine. In the days that followed, I found myself gaining confidence. Day by day, I felt a change taking place. A change from deep within. As the weeks passed, I learned to face stuttering head on and accept it for what it is. Stuttering is a small part of who I am and it does not define me. I have always viewed stuttering as a curse. The ruler of my world, my life. I slowly realized I’m the master of my own world. I control every aspect of it. I used to live in a world where stuttering commanded my life, but now the world has changed. The light has been shined on my faults and finally I can honestly say “I am free from its bond and I’m in the driver seat”.

I can not begin to explain how it feels to be set free. Free from a prison of fear and shame. I have longed for this day for the last 25 years. The day has come. I feel comfortable in my own skin and accepted by all. I stand before you all as a man who has been released from his shackles. A man who has dared to dream and achieved. A man who has faced his fears and triumphed. A man who challenged his speech and has freed his voice. I am a free man.

By |2017-02-19T06:27:04+00:00August 30th, 2010|Client Stories, Headlines, Intensive Programs|11 Comments


  1. steven Chen September 1, 2010 at 12:55 pm - Reply


    When I first read this I decided to give it a few days before coming up with a comment.

    My very first thought was “wow”, the intensive AIS program must be fantastic because this person is saying that by being totally free of the fear and shame of his stuttering as learned in the AIS intensive program that he has gained mastery over his stuttering. As he said ” I stand before you all as a man who has been released from his shackles.”

    Now I know that one could say that that was not exactly what he meant, that what he meant was that he has conquered his feelings about his stuttering, that he has decided that stuttering does not define him and that because he has felt this and realized this that anything is now possible including being able to totally express himself.

    This is the confusion I am experiencing from reading this. Is this person saying that because of the intensive that he is not only totally free from his fear and shame about his stuttering and that this has resulted in his being able to express himself now completely? Is he saying that because he has greater control over his fear and shame that he is now more able to express himself and because of his new attitude his future looks very bright and by having this attitude it is only a matter of time before he has is totally able to express himself fluently in mind and body?

    Or is he saying that because of his AIS intensive he now has firmly the understanding of the concept that he can be free from fear and shame of his stuttering as compared to what it was like in the past and because of this new experience, one which he has never known before until introduced at AIS, he can now begin to be free from fear and shame, and because he has never felt this way before, he can now start to apply it in the world with the idea that people in the rest of the world will be as accepting of him as they were at AIS?

    AIS staff, you have to understand that I and others have been thru many, many programs for stuttering in the past, and we have learned that the advertising and expectations from these programs never match the reality after one leaves these programs.

    I woud really appreciate that AIS explains what this blog post means and what it is saying can happen at AIS realistically, objectively and honestly to eliminate any false expectations.

    Catherine was among many who was willing to fight actively against false advertising by other Stuttering Clinics and I am sure she meant this to also be true for her own programs.

    This blog post sounds very much like this person has conquered their stuttering and all feelings related to it and people who stutter who read this post need to understand what the AIS staff is saying here by posting this message. The picture of the bird soaring free in a blue sky is suggesting that this person is as free as a bird soaring in the sky and my and other’s experiences have indicated that this is not possible after only a 3 week program.

    Thank you for letting me post.

    Why not follow up with this person and tape him in various different situations with different people as you did at Macy’s so that we can see how well he is doing and how well one of us can do. It is only fair that you do this after posting what this person said at your blog.


  2. Carl September 2, 2010 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Hi Steven,

    I fully understand there are therapy programs out there that have made false claims about their ability to improve people’s fluency. At AIS, we do our very best to be real with the people we serve. As for explaining the message in Mike’s speech, that’s not something I can do, as it was not me who wrote the speech. I can say though, that his speech came from the heart.

    I also understand your concern about false expectations. The topic of realistic expectations is discussed time and time again in our one-on-one therapy and in our intensive programs. Its important that people understand that we’re not offering a cure, and one intensive program is not a quick fix. Its an intensive training period where we teach people numerous mental and physical strategies for stuttering management. Its normal though, to have periods of relapse. For this reason, we often have discussions with clients about how the reaction to that relapse is key.

    If you’re interested in finding out more, and what can realistically happen in therapy at AIS, I would encourage you to set up a consultation. We’d be glad to sit down with you in person, over the phone, or over Skype, and answer any questions you have.

  3. Mike Delgado September 3, 2010 at 12:07 am - Reply

    Hello Everyone.

    I’m Mike Delgado the author of “A Free Man”. I wanted to address some of the comments posted regarding my speech. The speech was written to reflect my personal feelings and tribulations with stuttering. My words do not speak for the stuttering community or the American Institute of Stuttering. They are a reflection of my struggles and emotional journey. I wrote this speech with an open heart and strong passion. I spent a life time living in fear and shame. I felt as if I was a man living in a bubble that was impermeable to all my efforts. As I neared the completion of the intensive program, I realized that my confidence had been growing exponentially and that the impermeable bubble was slowing disintegrating. AIS has giving me the tools and confidence to live my life as I see fit. I am free to vocalize and walk with my head held high. I am a stutter who has learned to manage his speech to the best of his ability. I am more confident and comfortable today than ever before. This is what I needed and that’s what I took away from the program. Every client will experience the program differently. These are my results and I’m proud to say that my stuttering continues to be part of my life, but will never govern it again.

  4. Steven Chen September 3, 2010 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    Hi Mike,

    How nice of you to post and expand on what you said.

    I am glad that you feel good about your speech and about yourself.

    Could you tell me how you can feel proud “that my stuttering continue to be part of my life”, I don’t understand how somebody could do that, could you tell me how this is done so I can do it myself, you sound like the person to come to? I would like to feel this way too but I don’t see how to do it.

    Any tips or ideas would be helpful.



  5. Mike Delgado September 3, 2010 at 1:35 pm - Reply


    Thanks for the comments. I can associate all of my positivity to a single ideal. “ACCEPTANCE”. I accept my stuttering and know i can manage it. It’s all about moving forward with your life and not letting your stuttering dictate it. Whether I continue to stutter or not, it doesn’t matter. As long as you feel confident and comfortable with your own self, stuttering is a very small blip in the grand scale of things. I changed my perspective on stuttering and accepted it. That simple modification made a world of difference.

  6. Steven Chen September 3, 2010 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    HI Mike,

    Wow you posted again, you are great.

    Would you be using the concept “don’t judge yourself and don’t judge others”?

    My experience with stuttering wasn’t so much that I stuttered or repeated things (unless of course it was a real big block!) it was the way I felt at the time which wasn’t so much how I felt about me as a stutterer, but the negative feelings of fear and anxiety and terror, are you able to manage these feelings?

    Thanks again for posting, it is okay if you don’t answer, you are the only one so far who had answered any question at all, so you are very generous and have done a great job.



  7. Mike Delgado September 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm - Reply


    I can only speak on my own behave. All of the anxiety and fear that i felt and still feel to a small degree was reduce throughout the course of the intensive program using desensitization training.

  8. Steven Chen September 4, 2010 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    Hi Joe,

    Could you give us the highlights of the desensitization training beyond the acceptance you mentioned or is acceptance also acceptance of the fear and anxiety?

    What does desensitization mean?


  9. Joel Korte September 7, 2010 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    Hey Steven,

    I think the desensitization training Mike is referring to is where the clients go out and just stutter openly in front of people. For example, they’ll do stuttering surveys in the park where they approach random people and ask them questions about stuttering. I took the program 2 years ago and this activity really reduced my strong emotional reaction to stuttering so that I was better able to work on physically managing my stuttering. Obviously it’s probably impossible to completely eliminate all of your fears and negative emotions when stuttering happens, but doing these kinds of things greatly diminished it for me.

    I think that you hit the nail on the head when you said part of the acceptance of stuttering is accepting that fear and anxiety is normal, especially when you have to deal with stuttering.

    Great to hear things are going great for Mike! You continue to inspire!


  10. Steven September 8, 2010 at 7:04 pm - Reply


    Can you tell us what some of the questions were asked to strangers and what their answers were?

    Could you be specific as to what was asked and what the answer was?

    What was the toughest questions to ask and what were some of the unpleasant answers?

    On the other hand, what were some of the surprising positive answers? Where were the questions asked?


  11. Joel Korte September 13, 2010 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Hey Steve,

    The questions are pretty basic… you introduce yourself first and ask them things like, what do you think causes stuttering… do you know anybody who stutters… etc. It’s not really about the questions per se, just about getting yourself out of your comfort zone.

    Peoples reactions where generally either positive or apathetic… I did get one really negative response, but it turned out to be the most profound stuttering experience of my life because I realized that for the first time in my life, I didn’t care.

    There’s a video of me talking about it a few days later here if you’re interested:


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