Archive for the ‘Posts’ Category
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.
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?
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.
Stuttering requires a degree of fearlessness. In order to stutter openly, at some point, we have to lose the fear we have of being made fun of, or laughed at, or getting “the look.”
For most of us, letting go of that fear is hard to do. The fear of stuttering may indeed be more debilitating than the actual stuttering is.
I can well remember how worried I would always be of other people’s reactions if I stuttered. It goes back to childhood – of my father yelling at me when I stuttered, of the teacher who reprimanded me for stuttering, as if I was doing it purposely.
Those early experiences made the fear intensify. I feared the negative reactions more than the stuttering. The stuttering came and went. My perception that people thought there was something wrong with me stayed.
Fear drove me to hide my stuttering for a very long time. Even after “coming out” a few years ago, I still have moments where I try to hide it, or realize that I unintentionally hid it.
In one of the stuttering groups on Facebook, fear has been a recent topic. It never ceases to amaze me how many people are dealing with their “firsts” with stuttering. First time talking about stuttering openly, first time confronting emotions, namely fear.
These days, myself and other “stuttering veterans” are in a position to share our past experiences and hopefully help others with their first attempts at owning their feelings and fears.
It’s never easy. In fact, fear never really goes away, does it?
I’ve noticed that on days when I have very little opportunity for speaking that my stuttering is more pronounced when I do finally speak.
Has anyone had that experience?
I’ll notice it when I have to make a telephone call, that I’ll trip or block on words that I hardly ever do. It must be the lack of practice!
My friend J has a similiar experience. He works from home every other week, so does not have that social contact and interaction that you usually find in the workplace.
He then has more silent blocks when he gets back to consistent talking.
I have suggested that he try voluntary stuttering in these situations. He doesn’t always take my suggestions.
I have tried voluntary stuttering myself, when I want to claim more control or even to advertise when I think I’m going to stutter a lot.
What do you think?
My friend Burt from Belgium posed the question on one of the stuttering forums about how should one react when someone says our stuttering is cute. He wonders if people are just being nice by saying that.
Quite a few people weighed in with their comments and insights. Some say it’s never happened. Some say people refer to stuttering as cute when they don’t know what else to say. Some say they’ve heard stuttering said to be cute when the listener really feels sorry for the person stuttering.
One person indicated that she thinks that there are people out there that are genuinely attracted to flaws in people. I somewhat agree with that. I think when people let their true self shine – imperfections and all – they allow themselves to be vulnerable.
I am attracted to people who allow themselves to be vulnerable. To me, it signifies confidence. The person is confident enough to just be, and let the world see their true self.
I don’t ever recall anyone saying my stuttering is/was cute, but I do remember a friend commenting a few years ago that he found my stuttering was beautiful. I remember being so floored with that, as I’ve always hated my stutter. How could anyone possibly find it to be beautiful?
When he said that, it made me feel really good. I’ve never forgotten it either. Now, looking back (and it’s only been 4 or 5 years,) I think what may have been beautiful was the fact that I was being true to myself and stuttering openly and being vulnerable.
What do you think? Can stuttering be cute? Or attractive?
Be sure to check out Katherine Preston’s book, Out With It: How Stuttering Helped Me Find My Voice, which hits the shelves tomorrow April 16, 2013.
This memoir details the journey that took Katherine from her home in London to many different cities in the United States to find meaning in her stuttering.
I have met Katherine in person, and she was a guest on my podcast. In the episode “Think With Your Heart,” Katherine shares parts of her story with us and talks about her dream of having her book published.
It’s hard to believe that episode was in September 2010 and now we’ll actually be reading her book. A book written and published by a woman who stutters!
The book can be purchased by booksellers everywhere and is also available for digitial downloads. I’m looking foward to getting my copy from Amazon.
For more information on Katherine and her work, check out her blog Katherine Preston.
There is quite a discussion roiling on one of the email groups about stuttering being renamed “childhood onset fluency disorder.” This classification will be found in the DSM-5, due to be released in May 2013.
The DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. All mental disorders (and medical conditions for that matter) are coded for insurance coverage and reimbursement purposes. Changing the name from stuttering allows for all communication disorders to be covered, and gives parents with kids who stutter more options for quality speech therapy that insurance companies will pay for.
That is the layman’s (mine) explanation, from what I’ve gleaned from doing some reading and understanding what one of the writers and contributors to the section on communication disorders shared on the email group.
Many in the stuttering community are finding this classification of stuttering as a mental disorder to be disturbing. Many of us who stutter do not believe that we have a mental disorder.
And this label might just further the beliefs, and myths, that stuttering is a psychological problem. Many walked away from the 2010 movie “The Kings Speech” believing that stuttering was caused by bad parenting and psychological reactions to trauma and bullying.
People who stutter already have trouble with bullying in school and often being assigned to special education classes, even though there is no learning impairment. There is also workplace discrimination, with employers not fully understanding stuttering and making assumptions about ability and stability. If employers get wind of stuttering now being classified as a mental disorder, that could further diminish employment opportunities for stutterers.
Some could argue that everything we do is “mental.” We use our mental faculties everyday to communicate and interact with the world.
I don’t think I have a mental disorder because of my stuttering. Maybe for other things, but not for stuttering!
What do you think? Would you feel comfortable being diagnosed with a mental disorder due to your stuttering?
Well, Lazaro Arabos made it through another round on American Idol this week. In fact, voters put him in the top three this week.
This came as a surprise, since Lazaro forgot some lyrics in his duet performance this week, just like he did in last week’s performance. And Jimmy Iovine, the show’s mentor, had predicted that Lazaro should be in the bottom two or voted off the show.
The judges thought Lazaro’s solo performance of “We Are The Champions” was a perfect song choice for him, as the song signals that Lazaro is a champion after defying the odds to sing so well despite his severe stutter.
But many critics are saying that Lazaro is getting through when he should not, and at the expense of much better singers.
Do you think Lazaro is getting the sympathy vote? Do you think people are voting for him just because he stutters? To make a statement that finally, someone with a disability, can get this far?
I have been following the show every week this year. As a person who stutters myself, I greatly admire what Lazaro is doing. He is a great singer, but clearly struggles with interviews. But he does them anyway. He’s a great role model in that regard.
But I don’t think he is the better singer over some that have been eliminated since the top 10 was established.
If you are a person who stutters, are you rooting for Lazaro just because he stutters? Do you think he deserves to have made it this far? If you don’t stutter, what do you think?
Thanks to Google alerts, I received this update today, about the Kirkup Center for the Medical Treatment of Stuttering. The Kirkcup Center is associated with UC Irvine Health (in California.)
The center is (claims to be) the only program that treats stuttering as a medical condition, and combines medication and psychotherapy with speech therapy to reduce stuttering symptoms.
I find it interesting that this model uses the concept of symptoms to describe what we know as stuttering: frequent pauses, repetitions of words or phrases, prolongations and secondary behaviors. It’s of interest because symptoms are usually associated with a medical condition.
Most treatments for stuttering focus only on changing or modifying our speech, through traditional fluency shaping, stuttering modification, or avoidance reduction therapy.
This model suggests that stuttering can be treated as a medical condition, which for many people (in my opinion) might reduce the stigma of stuttering if it is seen as a medical problem.
A medical problem may seem more acceptable to many of us. It might not bring the same degrees of shame, guilt, fear and inadequacy that many of us now experience. With a medical model, self blame may be reduced, as we may think stuttering is not “our fault” much as cancer is not our fault.
What do you think? Is it more acceptable to you that stuttering be viewed and treated as a medical condition?
It’s amazing to see how many people who stutter are using social media to bolster their confidence and speaking skills.
The rise of Facebook groups for the stuttering community has really spurred people to take and create more opportunities to share a little about themselves in ways that were previously off-limits.
This evening, I strolled over to Stuttering Arena (on Facebook – a closed group with over 14oo members!) and watched several videos of people introducing themselves and stuttering openly on camera. This trend has been going on for months, but I usually don’t have time to watch and listen to more than one or two.
I think it’s amazing that people are taking these risks to open up and share.
It takes a lot of courage to record yourself stuttering and posting it publicly on a social media site.
Kudos to those of you doing so! If you haven’t, would you consider it?
One of the hardest things about being human is owning when we are part of the problem, instead of the solution.
My guard has been up recently and I have been reacting quite defensively to things around me, and to people too. I’m taking things personally that maybe I shouldn’t.
Instead of communicating my feelings and my needs, I have been stubborn. I’ve helped shut down lines of communication, instead of keeping them open. I know that’s not going to help the situation, but I find myself doing it anyway. Can you relate?
I’m pissing myself off a lot these days, as I know that I should be proactive rather than reactive. But I can’t seem to help it.
Someone suggested I do some soul-searching. I am taking stock of what works and what doesn’t. I want to ditch the stuff that is not working. And own it.
It’s hard admitting when you’ve screwed up. Admitting it to both self and others.
But that’s what owning our stuff is all about. It’s hard and very much a part of the human condition.
I have been experiencing a lot of stress and tension at work recently. My team is facing challenges and opportunities as we look to grow and expand our programs. It feels like we are experiencing growing pains.
I have reached out to one or two people for counsel and advice as I try to work my way through a tough time. The problem seems to be just basic communication.
Isn’t it funny that both people who stutter and those who don’t all grapple with communication stuff? It really is at the heart of everything that we do.
One of the friends I talked with wondered if I am perhaps feeling anxious because of my stuttering.
It’s not that at all. Yes, stress and tension exacerbates my stuttering but that is not causing the tough situation (I don’t think!)
Maybe it’s just plain not a good fit. I am definitely exploring that as well, with as much honesty as I can.
I think I am doing a pretty good job of staying focused (maybe too much) on the issues at hand at work and not on my stuttering. I have noticed more stuttering when I feel most stressed, but I don’t think it’s impacting my work in any way.
Has anybody had any similar situations? Rough patches at work? Do you think your stuttering has anything to do with it?
My friend asked me to raise this question on Facebook. Do people who stutter tend to stutter more when talking with people who talk very fast?
The question got a lot of responses. Many indicated that the pressure to speak faster increases anxiety, which then increases the stuttering.
Some said they know they can’t keep up, so they just don’t say anything, hoping the other person will notice eventually and invite them to respond.
Some said they speak even slower to encourage the fast talker to slow down.
Some said the pressure to keep up brings on more blocking.
I sometimes wonder where in the conversation it would work for me to jump in, as I worry I might block at that moment when I try to break into the conversation.
What do you think?