Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cajun Code Fest

It's a great time to be a stutterer, if there ever can be such a time.

You can basically do everything online nowadays: banking, dating, work, math lessons, learn guitar... you name it, it's at your fingertips. We can communicate with our video game consoles without even using a controller. If there's an emergency, just click a button on your home alarm system or your car's OnStar application. If you get lost or need directions, you've got choices: Google Maps, MapQuest, Yahoo Maps, your iPhone's built-in map app, etc.

You can even order pizza online. I mean, come on! It doesn't get any better than that!

The public's perception of people who stutter is changing. Award-winning movies, such as The King's Speech, have helped to educate (while entertaining) the public at large, showing that people who stutter are simply people - we want to be respected, we want to be heard. We have feelings. We get frustrated. We're human!

A lot of that has to do with organizations like the Stuttering Foundation, which really go above and beyond. They educate the educators with pamphlets and videos, and educate the public by sponsoring movies and creating posters showing that some of our most famous athletes, actors, politicians and journalists stutter or used to stutter.

Someone at work was shocked when I said that researchers had found genes linked to stuttering. This guy told me that he thought I stuttered because I didn't get enough attention from my mother or something. I wasn't offended - that's just what he thought because he didn't know any better. You live, you learn. And thanks to my smart phone and a strong wireless signal, I was able to quickly show him some websites that proved that not only do genetics play a part in stuttering, but that my mom also rocks.

So, OK, why am I writing all of this? And why is this blog titled Cajun Code Fest?

Because yours truly, along with my wife and 6 of my new best friends, just won a coding competition in Lafayette, LA, called Cajun Code Fest. Betty and I teamed up with 6 people that we didn't previously know, developed a software application in roughly 24 hours, and presented our application to a panel of judges. We're splitting a large cash prize, get to go to Washington, DC, in early June, and get a tour of the White House.

All of that work took constant communication. My speech wasn't perfect, especially after only getting a few hours of sleep during the competition, but my team was just amazing. Nobody was shocked that I stuttered. Nobody snickered. I don't really expect adults to do that, but it was nice to be working with a great group of people. They put me so much at ease, and we had so much work to do, that I almost forgot that I stuttered for a few hours. It was great!

I just wanted to post something positive today. I'm really proud of everything that we accomplished this past weekend at Cajun Code Fest. And what makes me the most proud is that I never once had to worry about what people would think of me at this event, because everyone I worked with was just so extremely patient with me.

It definitely is a great time to be a person who stutters! Thank you to everyone who has helped make this world better and more understanding of those of who stutter. Your work is definitely paying off!