By Paul Burton

BOSTON (CBS) – Speaking confidently during the final 2020 Presidential Debate, Democratic candidate Joe Biden stuttered. But it’s no secret that former vice president has struggled with a stutter throughout his life.

“It’s kind of cool to see how he can do so well with public speaking,” 17-year-old Ethan West of Danvers said.

West says he has stuttered his entire life, too.

“The hardest part when it comes to stuttering is probably like wanting to say a lot but not having the word to say it or taking a long time to say,” he said.

Ethan West (WBZ-TV)

At age eight, he started working with Diane Constantino, who works with the Stuttering Foundation and is also Director of the Center for Stuttering Therapy at Boston University.

She says Biden’s position helps bring stuttering to the forefront.

“When he was open about his stuttering. He was able to express it’s tough, and it took him a lot of encouragement from people in his life, it took him a lot of courage,” Constantino said.

West says he’s taking the same approach as Biden. When he was in elementary school, he didn’t let his stuttering stop him from starting his own radio show. And thanks to his parents, he’s taking speech therapy and trying to improve.

“It’s just like anyone else. There’s nothing bad about it,” West said.

It’s important that people understand they want to be treated the same.

“They are as deep and whole and capable and talented as anyone else,” Constantino said.

Ironically, last night’s presidential debate was held on International Stuttering Awareness Day. West said seeing Biden up on stage and campaigning gives young people like himself confidence to pursue his own dreams.

“I want to go into theatre and stage managing,” West said.

With Biden taking center stage, it’s a major help for kids like West.

Paul Burton

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