With all the social media platforms and other choices for electronic communication, there is no shortage of ways to find and communicate with people over the internet.
There are so many stuttering support groups, frankly they are hard to keep up with. But there is one on Facebook where large numbers of people who stutter gravitate.
The group is diverse – all ages, both genders, culturally and geographically dispersed. Yet, so many questions are asked – some casual, some deeply personal.
It seems that people who stutter from all walks of life are looking for connection, and I contend that connection cannot always be found with clicks behind a computer screen.
I think this 21st century group of young people who stutter who flock to these groups do so because there is no physical group to turn to.
Humans are human, and we need social interaction with each other – preferably face-to-face, at least on the telephone (or these days Skype.) We need to see and hear each other, read facial expressions and body language and feel that connection that comes from true interaction between two people.
I don’t think the future of interaction lies solely with social media and internet texting. I think we have to challenge ourselves to go and talk with a fellow person who stutters, or pick up the phone. Relationships start and then grow into friendships when we see and talk with each other in real-time.
We mustn’t lose sight of that.
I want to share a good stuttering experience I had this week.
On Saturday, I participated in a Block Party held in my community and represented the National Stuttering Association at an information table. It was a great day – the weather cooperated and it was warm, which brought a lot of people out.
I had many visitors to my table and delighted in being able to share information about stuttering, both to those who did not know much about it and to several who did.
One of the first visitors to my table was 6-year-old Charlie who stutters. He was with his uncle. We talked about stuttering and I gave the uncle some resource material. I gave Charlie a pin, a wrist band and a chinese finger trap, which illustrates what it’s like to get stuck in a stuttering block.
By the end of our brief conversation, Charlie was stuttering like a rockstar and grinning from ear to ear.
I also met 9-year-old Taylor who also stutters. He shared with me the 3 ways he stutters – repetitions, stretches and blocks. He knew blocking very well and schooled me on it. He too left the table with a big grin.
Later in the day, the city mayor came over and introduced himself and we chatted a bit. The mayor shared that he had stuttered as a kid, which led him to be quiet. He said, “when you’re quiet, you don’t stutter.” He said his stuttering stopped when he was in his teens.
He also asked me if I knew the former mayor of another city near us, who stutters. I did and we talked about our admiration for his willingness to be vulnerable every day in his public speaking. He is no longer the mayor, but holds a different role in state government.
It was a great day to raise awareness and educate about stuttering. The two little guys who openly stuttered made my day!
Several years ago I would never have imagined that I could be out in public willingly talking about stuttering, while stuttering, just to educate others. I have grown so much in my journey.
I encourage all of you to take opportunities when you can to participate in community events and volunteer to be an ambassador for stuttering. You will reap the rewards, I promise you.
Episode 104 features Jessica Stone, who hails from New York City. Jessica has her Master’s degree from NYU in Mass Communication, and has been working as a copy writer in advertising for 16 years.
Jessica had set two goals for herself before she turned 30 – to get her master’s degree and to live abroad. Having accomplished the first, she set out to research the second.
She found herself leaving NYC to live in London, which turned out to be for 6 years. Through that experience, Jessica learned about networking, confidence and resilience.
Listen in as we discuss early memories of stuttering, covert stuttering, anxiety and breathing. We also talk about public speaking – both Toastmasters and Transformational Speaking – and Jessica’s experience with the McGuire program in London. And so much more.
Feel free to leave comments or ask questions, or just let Jessica know what a great job she did. Remember, feedback is a gift.
The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.
I had one of those intimate stuttering moments today. You probably know what I mean.
I got caught in a block on the “k” in the word “keep” – came out something like “ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-kiiiiii-eep.”
I say intimate in that I was looking at the person I was talking to as I blocked and we maintained eye contact through the block.
Neither of us averted our gaze. Our eyes just kind of locked, until I was able to finish the word and then move on. I then glanced away for a second and then glanced back, which I think is normal eye contact. The other person did too.
So why is this a big deal?
Well, stuttering can be very intimate. In a Google+ hangout recently, David, a co-founder of Stutter Social, discussed his view of the “intimacy of stuttering.” It’s my view too.
Getting locked up in a block for a few seconds and sharing that with another person is very personal. I showed my “imperfection” in a vulnerable way.
And to have the other person share that with you, as in maintaining eye contact, until the block is over, is extremely personal.
I appreciated this person’s willingness to stay present with me, as she could have easily averted her eyes out of embarrassment or discomfort. Or even to give me a moment to “collect myself.”
Staying with me in the moment was also a deep sign of respect.
We shared that very personal moment that was important enough to me to write about this today.
What do you think? Can you relate?
Episode 103 features Rachel McCullough, who hails from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Rachel works in government with law enforcement.
Rachel wrote an article called “When Police Encounter Persons Who Stutter,” which was published in her agency’s newsletter and was also picked up by The Stuttering Foundation. She was recognized with a first place journalism award from The Stuttering Foundation for her piece.
Rachel is also a musician, sharing that “music for me is like breathing.” Rachel is a singer-songwriter and plays guitar for the band Black Cat Habitat.
Listen in as we have a great conversation about disclosure and advertising, and how Rachel first learned about covert stuttering at her first full National Stuttering Association conference in Cleveland in 2010.
We also chat about pretending to be fluent, how the only thing permanent with stuttering is that it is constantly changing, stuttering in the workplace and how Rachel is also known as Debra.
Feel free to leave comments or questions for Rachel, as we barely scratched the surface of her great story. Or just let her know what a great job she did. Remember, feedback is a gift.
The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to DanoSongs.
Thursday night, I had the opportunity and privilege to participate in a Google Hangout panel that was streamed live on YouTube. How cool is that?
For National Stuttering Awareness Week 2013, a diverse panel discussed stuttering, feelings and myths in an effort to educate stutterers and non-stutterers about the daily reality of living with stuttering.
Several countries were represented, as well as a non-stutterer. Hearing her perspective was great!
I’m the one that’s hard to see, due to poor lighting on my end. However, seeing us really wasn’t the point – its hearing us talk about stuttering that is really important.
All of us will be posting this video on our respective social media platforms. Take a look and listen. We rattle off some real gems!
Today’s post doesn’t have a lot to do with stuttering. Or maybe it does in some way.
Yesterday I had a conversation with someone who challenged me to find a way to make my voice heard. That was hard to hear, as I like to think my voice is loud and clear.
I am open with my stuttering, and have a voice in that community. I let my voice be heard in the Toastmasters community and my voice is certainly heard through this blog and various social media platforms.
But this was not a challenge about my literal voice. He was pushing me to find a way to have my figurative voice be present in a tough environment with a lot of pushback. We talked about the different meanings of voice, which did not include stuttering at all.
For the first time in a long time, I am considering stepping away from a tough situation, instead of “shaking it off and stepping up.” I’ve prided myself on doing that and encouraging others to do the same.
I mustered up the courage to say I think I need to bow out gracefully from a tough work situation. After much self talk, I had arrived at the decision that self-preservation and being happy was more important than the daily grind. That life is too short to be miserable every day.
But this individual would not let me off the hook! He pushed back and debated with me. He is convinced that I am supposed to be right in the thick of things and that my leadership and voice will strengthen and that I will be better for sticking it out. And that the work is important and worth it.
He challenged me to find new ways to collaborate, communicate and problem solve.
My insides are screaming that I’ve had enough, that as long as I can save face, it’s OK to bow out and still stand tall.
But I’ll admit I’m struck by this individual’s confidence in me that I can stay the course and emerge better, stronger and with new skills.
Having your voice heard means being active, not passive, which I am trying to convince myself is OK at this stage in my life and career.
My white flag was not accepted. So I have to figure out how to raise my voice another octave. And do that with grace.