Make Room For The Stuttering

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No words needed for this one – watch this truly inspiring video of a dad talking about what he learned at the recent National Stuttering Association 2014 conference.

One of the best workshops I attended at the recent NSA conference was called Creative Movement and Storytelling for People Who Stutter. The workshop gave people a chance to see how well their bodies can work, while also helping them express their stories.

It gave people the opportunity to express themselves in different ways than just our verbal communication.

The session was facilitated by Barry Yeoman, an award-winning journalist who has studied dance and story telling.

The workshop included ice-breaking exercises, improvisations and simple movements. By the end, we all worked together to create a more complex piece that we all built together as a group.

I had marked this workshop as one I really wanted to attend, but also told a friend I was nervous about it, because I feel I have two left feet and I am not very good at creative, expressive movement. It takes me way out of my comfort zone to do things like this.

In the end, I was very glad I attended. It was a beautiful, simple, fun way to let go and be creative and not have to worry at all about our speech.

Below is a brief clip of what some of the free expression looked like.



This is the talk that I gave at our “TEDs Talk” workshop at last week’s NSA conference. Lot’s of people gave me positive feedback and asked if I would post it.

My self and 7 other amazing people gave brief talks about our take on something from our stuttering journey. Mine is about using our stuttering to our advantage. I’d love your feedback.

Here’s another very inspiring talk by a woman who stutters. At 28, she finally feels she can “come clean” with her stuttering.

And she sings beautifully at the end too. A must watch!

Do you think this young man has a disability? This clip has been making the rounds on social media and many are saying the young man is so inspiring, being able to make such a speech with a disability.


David Haas, from Syracuse, New York, gives a great talk about his experience with stuttering at TEDx Syracuse University 2014.

He gave me permission to share his talk here on the blog. Great job, David.

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!

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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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