Make Room For The Stuttering

PamEpisode 134 features Margaret Heffernan, who hails from Greeley, Colorado. Margaret is 20 years old and a senior at the University of Northern Colorado. She is studying theatrical design and technology with an emphasis in stage management.

We discuss the importance of communication in her work and how she “calls shows” as a stage manager. Margaret realizes that she can be a good communicator even if she’s not fluent.

Margaret’s dad also stutters. We discuss what it’s been like growing up with a family member who stutters, pushing herself through hard things, and not feeling so isolated.

Listen in as we also discuss entering adulthood, self-confidence, approaching job search and interviews, being open and turning a corner, and stuttering without fear. Margaret wrote a great piece describing her thoughts about stuttering, called “I Stutter and Some People Wear Glasses.”

This was a great, honest conversation about life transitions. The podcast safe music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

tomato-soup-grilled-cheese-sandwich-large-51094She looked at me sort of quizzically while I placed my order, but she didn’t bat an eye and smiled the same smile she always does when I stop in. I don’t think she really cared that I asked for “lllllllemon” in my ice water.

When the waitress brought my water, it had the lemon I had asked for, that’s all that mattered.

I’ve never really liked going to restaurants by myself. I’ve always found it a bit uncomfortable. I used to imagine people saying to themselves, “Oh, that poor lady, she’s eating alone.”

I’ve gotten over that as I’ve matured and realized that people don’t think about me when they’re dining out.

So, now I feel comfortable going to a few restaurants by myself. Especially since I can do like everyone else does – whip out my smart phone and check emails or texts. Not having to make eye contact with anyone simplifies matters when you’re dining alone.

Well, on this day, the waitress wanted to chat. God forbid, right? Chatting in a restaurant like we used to do in the good old days.

The waitress wanted to know what brought me in at an off time of the day. I was there mid-afternoon and there was only one couple sitting together at the counter.

I mentioned that I was between a-a-a-appointments and had not eaten lllllllunch yet. She asked me what I wanted to order.

I was in the mood for comfort food and asked for a gr-gr-gr-grilled cheese sand-sand-sand-wich and to-to-to-mato soup.

She looked at me and smiled and said she’d wait all day for me to say what I had to say and she hoped I expected everyone else to do the same.

I took a chance and said, “well, not everyone is patient, you know.”

The waitress then simply said, “well, honey, fuck them, then. They’re not worth your time.”

And five minutes later she brought me my soup and sandwich and set it on the table, winked, smiled and went on about her business.

That was the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever had.

Episode Pam133 features Shilpa Sagwal, who hails from Mumbai, India. Shilpa is 23 years old and is studying for her Masters degree in Chemical Engineering. She is enjoying exploring her world and moving out of her comfort zone.

Listen in as we discuss Shilpa’s journey toward acceptance and how openly bringing up stammering with family and friends has helped her. She feels more supported and is enjoying life.

We discuss what it’s like to be a woman in India who stammers, how it’s a “big big issue.” Women who stammer don’t want to expose themselves and are fearful of almost everything. Stammering is seen as an imperfection. We discuss how women in India can’t speak for themselves anyway and how having a stammer only makes that worse.

We discuss The Indian Stammering Association (TISA) and how Shilpa has found support through weekly meetings and the national conference.

This was an enlightening, honest conversation that could have gone on for hours. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions.

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

 

 

We all know the statistics. Only about 1% of the adult population stutters, so it’s common to not meet another person who stutters in our everyday lives.

I’ve talked to many people around the world who have shared that they have never met someone else who stutters, which may add to the isolation of stuttering.

I work in an organization that employs about 450 people, and I’ve met three other people who stutter through work. Statistically, that plays out as it should, but it seems strange that I’ve actually met all three of them. I don’t work directly with any of them but we have occasion to see and talk with each other.

They all happen to be men, which bears truth to the belief that there are 4 times as many men who stutter than women.

I have spoken about stuttering with two of the guys. In fact, one of them always asks me whenever I see him if I’ve done anything stuttering related recently. He’s referring to things he knows I’ve done in the past to raise awareness of stuttering, like organizing talks at local libraries and schools.

One person is a relatively new colleague that I see at least once monthly at meetings. I noticed that he stutters, but I didn’t go up to him and say, “hey, I stutter too,” I did that once with someone and it backfired. The person got offended and profusely denied he stuttered, even though to me it was quite obvious.

Everyone is at a different juncture with their stuttering journey and I don’t think it’s up to me to bring it up when I hear someone else stutter. But if this colleague approaches me and wants to discuss stuttering, I will gladly talk his ear off about it!

In an odd way, it feels good that I’ve met others who stutter in my workplace. Growing up, I never met anyone else who stuttered and always wondered if I was the only one.

It’s good to know I’m not the only one in the workplace.

PamEpisode 132 features Emma Alpern, who hails from Brooklyn, New York. Emma works in the publishing industry, editing young adult fiction. She has always loved working with new books.

Stuttering got her into reading and writing in the first place, and also piqued her interest in words.

Listen in as we discuss workplace communication and advertising, being covert, Emma’s relationship with her stuttering, and speech therapy thoughts and experiences.

We also discuss the importance of finding others that stutter and Emma’s experience at National Stuttering Association (NSA)chapter meetings and her first NSA conference.

Emma wrote an article called Good Communication on the blog “Did I Stutter?” We discuss what good communication means and our thoughts on whether stuttering is a disability.

This was a perfect conversation, one that could have gone on for hours. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions for Emma.

The podcast safe music clip used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

I tend to stutter the same way on the same words all the time. Even when I try to focus and use a technique or slow down, there are just certain words that come out the same way, every time.

Communication is one of those words. I don’t stutter on the first “c” in the word. No, I block and stutter on the second “c” sound – right in the middle of the word. It usually takes the form of three or four repetitions on the “ca” sound. Communi-ca-ca-ca-ca-tion. I am very aware of when I am in the stuttering moment with this word, as it’s a word I have to say a lot in the presentations I deliver to high school students.

I talk to them about career planning and the essential skills needed to be college and career ready, with good communication being one of those essential skills.

I am not ashamed that I stutter and I am of the belief that good communication is so much more than perfect fluency. But for some reason, when I block and stutter on key words, the same way, every time, I feel quite vulnerable and exposed. Perhaps it’s because this mostly happens when I am speaking to young people.

It’s important to me to be a good role model when I am speaking to people, especially young people. I maintain eye contact when I’m blocking and when I complete the word, I usually smile and just keep moving forward. I like to think that communicating in my own style, with confidence, is good role modeling for young people.

I want them to see that moving through vulnerability can yield good results.

A good friend of mine suggested I do a little dance when I say “communi-ca-ca-ca-ca-tion.” To the beat of the “ca-ca-ca-ca.” I think it would be a good ice breaker when I am giving a presentation on stuttering, but maybe not so much when I am talking career preparation to high school students. They might think I’m nuts and call the security officer.

What about you? Do you have words that you stutter the same way every time? How does it make you feel?

Someone wrote this on one of the stuttering email groups I participate in. It really resonated with me.

“The pain of stuttering is not in speech interruptions as that just takes an extra moment… And the speaker sometimes doesn’t even know it’s happening.  What’s painful is feeling different and feeling that the difference is unacceptable to you and to the world….”

How many of us can relate to this? How many of us have had a stuttering moment happen and we felt so embarrassed that we felt different? That stuttering was unacceptable?

I first experienced the pain of stuttering as a young child. I don’t remember what stuttering was really like for me at 5 years old, but I do remember the pain I felt when it seemed that my father was ashamed of me. He would yell at me when I stuttered and make me feel as though I was doing something bad.

As an adult, I stutter pretty openly and confidently but sometimes I still experience the pain and shame of stuttering. And I believe some of that rises up from those early painful memories.

I feel the pain of stuttering when I get stuck and someone laughs at me. Or looks at me quizzically, asking if I’ve forgotten my name or where I work. I am sure everyone who stutters has experienced that and probably more than once.

I feel the pain of stuttering when I feel I’m being judged by someone in authority. That makes me feel inadequate, thankfully only momentarily, but inadequate nonetheless.

I feel the pain of stuttering when I explain myself to put a listener at ease. Sometimes it’s painful because there’s times I just don’t feel like explaining.

I feel the pain of stuttering when I want to chime in with a joke and I stutter on the punchline and people give me “the look.”

There has been more and more awareness of stuttering in the media, especially over the last year. But I’m not convinced that the world is ready for stuttering yet. It’s still not acceptable.

What do you think?

 

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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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