for today’s Washington Post, posted yesterday afternoon, and titled I saw myself in Brayden Harrington’s story of stuttering. He showed us the power of sharing it openly.
For the record, Dr. Wen has been a frequent presence on cable tv commenting on aspects of the pandemic. Leana Wen has had a long and distinguished career. She has previously served briefly as president of Planned Parenthood and before that as Health Commissioner of Baltimore City (there is a separate Baltimore County in Maryland). She is currently a visiting professor at the Medical School of George Washington University, where she had taught some years ago. She has also served as a professor at Harvard Medical School while also a an emergency room physician at Brigham and Womens and at Massachusetts General Hospitals. She previously was President of the American Medical Student Association and of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine/Resident and Student Association. And as we learn in her op ed — and what we would never know from her appearances on cable — is that she herself a stutterer!
She begins by telling us that her favorite part of last week’s convention was the appearance of Brayden Harrington, because
For me, it was deeply personal. I cried as I watched Brayden tell his story. Growing up as a person who stutters (PWS), I never imagined that I’d ever see someone stuttering openly and comfortably in front of millions of people.
She goes on to tell us that about 3 million Americans are stutterers, many into adulthood, and describes several different manifestations of the condition, then describes herself as follows:
Many PWS, like me, are covert stutterers. That means we are able to hide our disfluency enough that we can trick others into thinking that we don’t stutter. As a child, I knew which words would trip me up, so I found ways around them. Words beginning with “P’s” were a problem, so I wouldn’t ask for a pencil, but something to write with. “L’s” were also a problem — which was hard, since my name begins with the letter. I’d find ways to avoid introducing myself. It was better to be known as the quiet kid than the one who couldn’t get her words out.