Make Room For The Stuttering

PamEpisode 146 features Kelly Tabra who hails from Trujillo, Peru. Kelly is 26 years old and is a psychologist working in marketing.

We cover a lot of ground in this episode. Listen in as we discuss apologizing for stuttering, being comfortable with one’s speech vs. happiness and the acceptance journey.

For a long time, Kelly considered her stuttering the enemy. Now, she doesn’t consider stuttering either an enemy or a friend. It is just a small part of her that she is ever learning to accept. We also discuss the benefits of stuttering, what good communication really is, and stuttering in several languages.

I ask Kelly about stuttering resources and support in Peru, of which there are very little. Kelly is glad to have found Stutter Social, the online support group. With Stutter Social, Kelly feels she is “part of something” which is key in her acceptance journey.

The podcast safe music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

I am not a fan of using fluency shaping techniques. When I participated in speech therapy about 6 years ago, I was really resistant to the traditional techniques that would theoretically make my speech more fluent. I felt like the therapist was trying to “fix me” and I didn’t need fixing, then or now.

But lately, I have been feeling quite self-conscious when answering the phone at work and stuttering on the same word, every time. I’ve been helping to answer the phones more over these summer months because we are short staffed and we all pitch in to help.

When we answer the phone, we state the name of our school building so that the caller knows they have reached the right building. It’s a three word name, and I always stutter on the third word. Every single time. And it’s been bothering me that I stutter like that identifying our school name.

I can’t quite identify why it’s making me feel uncomfortable, because if I stutter later in the conversation, it doesn’t really bother me. It must just be something about those introductory words that I want to be able to say smoothly and confidently. Maybe it doesn’t feel confident to stutter on the same word every time.

So, I’ve been using a prolongation technique on the first letter of the third word, so I can slide into it without repeating the letter/sound. It’s working, as long as I concentrate and remember to do it. I am not feeling as self-conscious when answering the phone.

What I am feeling like is a little bit of a hypocrite. I have not wanted to use fluency techniques because I am comfortable with myself as a stutterer. But here I am, feeling uncomfortable and resorting to a technique.

Hopefully, I’ll get over this quick. Have you ever experienced conflicted emotions about using fluency techniques?

The Mighty did a nice piece, in conjunction with the National Stuttering Association (NSA,) on truths people who stutter want people who don’t stutter to know.

The NSA asked the question on their Facebook page and asked people to respond. The Mighty used those quotes in the piece they wrote up. They even created graphics and attributed the quotes to the people, like me, who responded.

Check out the piece here – Eight Truths People Who Stutter Wish Everyone Understood. They did a great job!

I had a good experience last week with someone who was meeting me for the first time. During our conversation, I was stuttering quite well.

After several moments of really good stuttering, she leaned in and asked me how did I want her to respond when I was stuttering. She said, “you don’t want me to finish your words, right?” I said no, that I preferred to finish my own thoughts.

We talked about that for a moment. I told her people often guess wrong when they try to finish my thought and it’s just more respectful to let me finish. After all, it only takes a few extra seconds.

I thanked her for asking and bringing it up. I let her know I also appreciated her keeping good eye contact and staying present with me. I was so pleased with her interest and willingness to talk about stuttering.

Have you ever had someone ask you so directly how best to respond while your stuttering?

PamEpisode 145 features Bernice Gauci, who hails from the tiny Southern European island country of Malta. It is underneath Sicily, Italy.

Bernice is 24 years old and is a mental health nurse also studying for her Master’s degree in Family Studies. She is president of the newly formed Stuttering Association of Malta (SAM.)

Listen is as we discuss workplace stuttering and being open with colleagues. We also discuss how Bernice has reached her level of acceptance of stuttering. Her mom introduced her to a speech therapist who challenged her to think of stuttering as a gift. In fact, Bernice did a news interview on stuttering after the launch of SAM, where Bernice talks about how stuttering is indeed a gift. You can read this article here.

We also discuss the recent IFA Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, which Bernice attended. She talks about how she felt she was in a society for people who stutter, where she could just “stutter along.”

And we talk about the Stuttering Association of Malta, whose goals include having kid’s days and reaching out to parents. Bernice hopes that SAM will get more media coverage so that awareness of stuttering can be increased in Malta.

The podcast safe music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions, for feedback is a gift.

A friend from the National Stuttering Association and Stutter Social, David Resnick, recently gave a great TEDx Talk on using technology to build empathetic resonance. I’ll let him explain in his talk exactly what that is.

I was thrilled to see another TED Talk where someone openly stutters and still communicates beautifully and effectively. Of course, my thrill was enhanced by the fact that I know David!

And it was great to see Stutter Social featured and explained. I have been a Stutter Social host for two years now and I love it. The sense of community from a virtual stuttering support group certainly does build empathy.

Enjoy David’s talk! It’s great!

People who stutter tend to be very good at avoiding. We avoid speaking situations in which we fear we’ll stutter. We avoid certain words and switch to words we can say without stuttering.

For a long time, as I’ve written before, I was extremely covert and avoided situations where I’d be vulnerable and exposed as a person who stutters. I always had the fear of being negatively perceived or judged or labeled.

As I’ve gotten older, I find that I don’t care as much about my stuttering and am largely open about it. I stutter openly, without apology, and feel I am living a much more authentic life, at least as far as stuttering goes.

But what I’ve found is that avoidance has seeped over into other parts of my life. I’m sure many of you have found this as well. How could it not? Practicing stuttering avoidance for many years becomes such a strong habit that it almost seems to become default behavior.

What am I talking about? Well, I find that I avoid difficult conversations. I avoid conflict. I sometimes avoid change. I sometimes avoid making decisions. I sometimes avoid being too assertive at work, for fear of rocking the boat and being perceived or judged negatively, much like when I was covert and avoiding stuttering.

I’d like to say that I have transcended all of this now that I am overt with my stuttering but I can’t. I keep noticing pockets of avoidance that I am positive relates to my stuttering. This is something that I am continually working on. I am mindful of when I seem to be avoiding something big and acknowledge that it’s happening.

Acknowledging avoidance is only half of the battle. The other half of the battle requires action and courage. I’m working on both. How about you?

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2015.
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