Make Room For The Stuttering

Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

This really needs no words – it’s a great short animated film that perfectly captures what stuttering is.

Check out this great panel of strong women who stutter engaging in a conversation to celebrate International Women’s Day.

This is not directly about stuttering, but in a way, it is. This guy showed on a big stage how nerves and anxiety can get the best of any of us. The news shows are describing Mr. Bay’s performance as a “melt down” and “embarrassing stage fright.”

I took this a different way. I think he did us all a favor. He showed us that he’s human and felt anxious and vulnerable, like we all do from time to time.

How many of us, fluent or not, can relate to what happened here?

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!

It’s known that most people who stutter don’t stutter when they sing. The brain uses different areas for speech production and singing.

So it was a bit offensive when judges on American Idol told a young man who stutters after singing beautifully during his audition that he should just sing all of the time. Can you imagine singing all the time in everyday communication? Talk about weird and drawing attention to yourself.

Part of that comment was ignorance. The American Idol judges likely haven’t encountered many people who stutter and understandably may not have known how to react. Another judge also finished the contestant’s words before he finished explaining what song he was going to sing. Most people who stutter, including myself, don’t like having their words finished for them.

The stuttering community is all abuzz because we have someone who stutters on national television competing in the popular singing competition. He is “representing!”

The non-stuttering community is all abuzz because he doesn’t stutter when singing and it’s thought to be so amazing.

I think the most important thing here, as shown below, is that Lazaro is stuttering openly and confidently while he pursues his dream. His confidence is what we should focus on, not that he can sing with out stuttering, like most of us can do.

Hopefully, Lazaro will go a long way in the competition so that the American Idol judges, and all the people watching, can learn more about differences. Listen to what he says in addition to how beautifully he sings.

I can’t resist sharing this video of Katherine Preston talking about her journey to finding her voice. I had the pleasure of meeting Katherine in person at a NSA conference and at a FRIENDS convention during the summer of 2010.

Katherine was a guest on my podcast “Women Who Stutter: Our Stories,” in the 25th episode Think With Your Heart in September 2010.

Katherine was interviewed by Jonathan Fields for his Good Life Project. Fields is the author of  Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance. I read this book last year, within a week or so of it’s release. I highly recommend it for anyone who needs a push outside of their comfort zone.

This is a great interview for two reasons. Katherine stutters with confidence, and Jonathan Fields is a patient and respectful interviewer who found no need to rush the conversation.

This is a must see – whether you stutter or not!

I finally have been able to upload and edit this clip of Vivian Sisskin discussing her avoidance reduction therapy at the FRIENDS conference this past July. For some reason, I was unable to upload it to YouTube from my home computer.

And no, I wasn’t avoiding posting it!

Vivian’s approach to stuttering therapy continues to intrigue me, as it deals directly with our fears of stuttering publicly. For people who stutter covertly, avoidance reduction is key to desensitization.

Vivian gave me permission to publish. I have about 10 minutes more as well, which I hope to publish soon. Feel free to leave feedback.

This is another clip of Marc Vetri sharing with the audience at the FRIENDS 2011 convention in DC in late July 2011. After a wonderful keynote talk, (clips here) Marc took some unscripted questions from the audience.

We hear from several parents, an adult who stutters, and a teen who stutters who aspires to work in the Culinary Arts field one day.

This is great stuff – honest dialogue about stuttering from an inspiring role model. We definitely need more stuttering role models out there, visible and unafraid to stutter openly.

We’re getting there. We’ll get some women out there too!

I might be sucker punched here, but if I had to choose who I thought was the better speaker at this year’s stuttering conferences, NSA and FRIENDS, I would choose Marc Vetri over David Seidler.

Nothing at all against Mr. Seidler, of course. He was highlighted in my last post and was deservedly the marquee keynote speaker at both conferences. He did a GREAT job! He stayed and interacted with as many people as possible at both conferences and delivered an inspirational message.

However, Marc Vetri was the perfect choice to address young kids and teens who stutter and their parents. Why? Because he stutters openly!

I happen to think it’s a really good idea to have people who stutter speak at stuttering conferences. And Vetri was phenomenal!

He is a renowned chef in the Philadelphia area, with three popular and thriving restaurants . He also won a 2010 Iron Chef competition, and regularly appears on the The Food Network channel.

He is an everyday guy who loves to cook and is enjoying industry success. With success comes more public speaking, and he stutters openly, not letting his stutter hold him back.

I had the good fortune to chat with Marc and his wife over lunch after he spoke at the conference. He is one regular guy who is a great role model!

Here is just a snippet of his five-star keynote address. I have more of him taking questions from the audience that I may be persuaded to post!

I was able to capture some of David Seidler’s keynote address at the FRIENDS convention in DC last month. All of us who were at either (or both) the NSA and FRIENDS conferences were indeed lucky to hear Mr. Seidler share with us. I suspect many of the young (and not so young) people will not soon forget these moments.

I know my journey would have been very different had I listened to anyone, let alone someone famous, talk about stuttering when I was a kid. I am so glad today’s young people have so many opportunities like this.

I am also glad that I am able to share some of these treasures with readers/listeners who were unable to attend the US stuttering conferences.

Up next, I will have some footage of Marc Vetri, the other keynote speaker at the FRIENDS convention. Marc is a renowned chef in Philadelphia and won Iron Chef in 2010. I had the good fortune of chatting with Marc and his wife at lunch after his talk. I look forward to sharing some of his inspirational words here as well.

My Flip digital recorder was a great tool to have with me at the 2011 NSA Conference. When I realized that first-timers had been asked to sum up their experiences at the closing ceremonies, I pressed the record button.

It is so empowering to hear people express how moving and significant it is to participate in the stuttering community for the first time. Both Katie and Dustin indeed did that – they both helped to facilitate workshops too! I could not have done that at my first conference!

Listen and watch as Katie and Dustin sum up their conference experiences, in their own words and their own voices. They have made room for the stuttering. Have you?

(I did receive permission from both Katie and Dustin to post this clip on the blog, in case you’re wondering!)

Please leave comments here for either or both, so everyone who tunes in to this blog can see them. Not everyone hangs out on Facebook!

Video created, edited and produced by Mike Bauer, NSA 2011 Volunteer of the Year, who is amazing!

Rather than write about how the annual awards ceremony went last week, I have a clip of it here to show you!

I always worry about what impression I create when I speak publicly, especially at school functions. I know I will stutter, but like anyone who stutters, I always hope it will be one of my better days.

These events serve as a reminder of what really counts. It’s not about me. This annual awards night is for the students. No one cares about the person up on stage reading off the names. What’s important is that these kids worked hard all year and deserve their special night.

The candle lighting ceremony went well, considering we had little practice time. And my little friend towards the end who reads the poem brought tears to my eyes. She was so nervous and came to me a few days before and told me. But she also said she was very honored I asked her. Again, note to self – it’s not about me. That was a big step for her. Who knows? She might be a famous talk-show host some day.

A lesson for us all!

Two friends and I did a workshop on stuttering a couple of days ago at our community library. We submitted the proposal in early January to conduct a workshop in February, timing it about a month after the movie “The King’s Speech” opened here in my area.

We have done these before over the last few years and have had good turn-outs. In fact, from prior workshops, we have been asked to speak to practicing and student SLPs. Seems the speech community is always wanting more information on stuttering.

This time, Steve and I planned a 75 minute workshop that would give participants an opportunity to ask questions and share their thoughts about the movie. We also planned to provide accurate information and resource links. We met only twice before presenting. We advertised it quite heavily, through social media, our local newspaper, and the local speech and hearing association. At the last-minute, another friend offered to help and we gladly let him deliver a third of the material.

We had a great turnout, between 40 and 50 people. We asked people to provide their name and email if they wanted a copy of our Powerpoint presentation, which many did. A friend recorded snippets of our talk and I was able to put together a video summary of what we discussed.

What I want to share here is the mix of people who were in the audience, why they were there, and some of the comments we heard that night. We went over time by more than 30 minutes. People stayed behind to ask questions, comment, and thank us. No one left early! The library guy finally cued us that we had to get out, so he could lock up and go home.

I walked around before we started and introduced myself to people and asked what brought them to the workshop. There were 6 people there who stutter, who we had never seen at any of the local support avenues in town. They all mentioned in some way that the movie, and a local talk about it, seemed a safe place to come to learn and share.

One couple was there because their 7-year-old son stutters severely and is teased and bullied on the bus. They wanted to learn as much as they could. Thier son’s SLP had recommended they come. There were 3 SLPs in the audience, and two SLP students. One came with her mom, who recognized my name and wanted to know if I was the same person she had gone to high school with. I was!

One woman was there because she has a new staff member who stutters severely and she wants to make sure “she does right by him.” She said it seems no one else was willing to give him a chance.

These are some of the comments people made during our presentation or afterwards.

** A 68-year-old woman told us she had never dated, never married, and didn’t do what she really wanted to in college because of her stuttering. She commented to the father of the 7-year-old, “I wish you had been my father when I was a little girl”.

**A man originally from the Ukraine thought the movie and talking openly about stuttering was so important because “back in my day, we were told there was nothing that could be done.”

**A woman mentioned that she and her family had never, ever talked about stuttering. She shared “just this movie’s very presence has opened the door for conversation. My sister called me and said she had seen the movie. She wanted to make sure I had.”

**A co-worker of mine came with her mother. She shared that when she and her husband had seen the movie, her husband had commented “oh, I see it’s an emotional problem.” She shared that she corrected him, and had been able to do that because she works with someone (me) that stutters. She added that she felt community discussions like this were important to be sure people didn’t walk away with the wrong impressions.

**A woman came up to me afterwards to let me know she knew me. She said when I mentioned I had been fired several years ago, she knew about it. Her niece had told her all about how terrible it had been when they let me go, and that most people knew it had been because of my stuttering.

By the end of the workshop, both parents were emotional, mom especially. She never said a word – she didn’t have to. We were so glad these parents came. I have emailed them already, sent the presentation, and offered to come to their son’s school to talk about stuttering, teasing and bullying, if and when they think that might help. I told them it would have made a HUGE difference in my life if I had met another person, especially an adult who stutters, when I was a kid.

We made a difference Thursday night. Below is a 15 minute summary of some of the topics we covered in our talk. I am not a professional editor. The clip is not perfect. My voice sounds like I sucked on a helium balloon. But you will get the point.


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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2014. 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 2014.
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