Thank you for your paper and your contributions of the stuttering community. It presents a thoughtful and interesting adaptation of the theme of a classic piece of literature. Could there be a Martian Venusian? Consider it like the case of having two passports. The person is a Venusian by heritage but is a Martian by birth. This person has been to Venus and has many Veniusian friends but was dismayed and discouraged by a culture that emphasized expression of feelings, acceptance of difference and empathy rather than a results orientation and survival of the fittest. Therefore, the person stayed a Martian because Martians emphasize achievement, survival, and independence. Three of the most prominent and most cited examples of overcoming stuttering are by Martians, James Earl Jones, John Stossel, and Jack Welch. Likewise, many of the non-SLP leaders in the stuttering community are Martians. Should overcoming stuttering be a goal and if so what role does being a Martian (either native or naturalized) play in one’s ability to do so? What is the role of the stuttering community in teaching Venusians Martian-like behaviors to become a leader and thereby overcome stuttering? Also, as you rightly point out, there are Martians who feel more comfortable with a Venusian existence. Should that be encouraged at the expense of achievement?
I saw an interesting link to a blog called The Stuttering Source on Facebook and decided to check it out. The link was to the recent post about when does stuttering therapy end for a person who stutters.
The blog is written by a SLP who works as a Fluency Clinic Supervisor at the National Speech Language Therapy Center in Maryland.
I’m always interested in stuttering blogs so I decided to look at older posts.
Imagine my surprise when I saw a video of myself in the next post, titled The 411 on Voluntary Stuttering. The blogger used my video (with credit and a link to my blog) as a springboard to talk about how she uses voluntary stuttering in therapy.
I had kind of forgotten I had done this video. Of course I watched it again and quite enjoyed it. Hope you do too!
Nelly recently graduated from college with a degree in psychology, but has decided she wants to pursue a career in speech language pathology.
Nelly attended the American Institute for Stuttering (AIS) in 2012 because she was looking to become more confident with her stuttering. At AIS, she met a SLP who stutters and was inspired by his confidence.
Listen in as we talk about job interviews, advertising stuttering, not letting stuttering define us, Toastmasters and the importance of role models.
We have a moment during our conversation where Nelly has a block and I am not sure when to resume talking. Nelly had to tell me she was done speaking. We were able to honestly discuss how that sometimes happens with two people who stutter.
I really enjoyed this conversation and the chance to get to know Nelly and hope you do too.
The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.
Today is International Stuttering Awareness Day, a day that recognizes the 1% of the global population that stutters or stammers.
Stuttering is a complicated speech disorder that involves so much more than what (or what does not) come out of our mouths. Stuttering is defined as the involuntary disruption of the normal flow of speech.
It can be characterized by sound repetitions, hesitations, prolongations and blocking, where no sound comes out when the speaker tries to speak. A person who stutters may also exhibit struggle behavior, such as tension or facial grimaces when trying to get their words out.
Stuttering also involves the feelings that go along with not being able to speak fluently. People who stutter often feel enormous shame, fear, guilt, and inadequacy. People who listen to those who stutter often don’t know how to react – and may react negatively, such as roll their eyes, laugh, mock or mimic or walk away.
When those negative listener reactions happen, a person who stutters may feel humiliated or demoralized.
Very often, people who stutter will try to do everything they can to not stutter, because of poor social reactions and those complex feelings under the surface.
Sometimes, people will choose not to speak. They may avoid speaking situations purposely. They may feel they shouldn’t burden others with how they sound or how long it takes for them to speak. They may feel so ashamed that they feel they don’t deserve to speak.
I stutter and have for many years. I have experienced the complicated feelings of fear, shame and embarrassment. I have purposely avoided speaking situations and missed out on life opportunities. Fortunately, I don’t do that anymore.
Don’t you do that either. Whatever you do, don’t choose silence. When we’re silent, we are not connected and engaged with the world. Use your voice and make it be heard. Use speech tools if it helps you, and talk to other people who stutter. But just don’t choose silence. The world needs your voice.
There are many resources available for people who stutter. Here are just a few.
Again, whatever you do, don’t choose silence. Choose to make your voice heard.
In my paper, I talk about John Gray’s classic book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus., where Gray suggests there are differences between the communication styles and emotional needs of men and women.
I draw some parallels to how this fits with the stuttering experience.
I have received many interesting comments from readers, mostly graduate students aspiring to be SLPs. Most note appreciation that this paper gave people something to think about when considering the different needs of people who stutter.
One comment however suggests that women should be taught to be more like men, so that stuttering can be overcome and so that women can be leaders. I was a bit concerned about this comment and its implications. Here’s the comment – what do you think?
I missed a good opportunity to practice being assertive last week and seize a chance to raise some stuttering awareness.
I am participating in my Toastmaster’s club’s Fall Contest this session, and at last week’s meeting, I had to give an evaluation of a target speech. My evaluation “speech” was to go for 2-3 minutes, with a 30 second grace period. I clocked in at 3:11.
To help the contestants get good feedback and prepare for the next round of competition, everyone at the meeting was asked to give us speakers some verbal feedback. It’s called “Round Robin Evaluation.”
It’s a bit intimidating to have 10-12 people go around and share what they thought on how you performed. But it’s also excellent practice on how to receive constructive feedback. No one really wants to hear that you did something wrong or should improve this or that, but that is the whole point of Toastmasters, to help us learn and grow. If no one is brave enough to give honest feedback, then we miss opportunities to learn.
Mot people said I did a fine job – they highlighted the strong parts and several people mentioned one particular good idea I had suggested to the target speaker.
One guy shared his opinion that I seemed nervous and lacked the usual. confidence that I have. He noted that I tripped and stumbled over several words and knew that I “could do better, because he’s heard me do better.”
He was talking about my stuttering, which had been more pronounced than usual. I am usually very fluent at Toastmasters, because I project my voice and that seems to help with my fluency. But not that night. I was stuttering and he pointed it out as part of his feedback.
I was embarrassed, but don’t think I showed it. Not everyone in my club knows that I stutter, because there has been a lot of new people and I haven’t talked about it in a while.
My mind whirled after the feedback session. I didn’t want to be “judged” on my stuttering – but if he didn’t know, he could have attributed it to nerves.
I wanted to say something to him after the meeting, like “hey, I stutter!” But it didn’t seem appropriate. It was a Toastmasters meeting, not a meeting about stuttering. But it bothered me, and I feel like I missed an opportunity.
What do you think?
A reader asked me if could write about assertiveness and offer some tips about how to be assertive while stuttering. Good topic, as we all might need gentle reminders about what being assertive really is.
Being assertive involves advocating for yourself in a way that is positive, proactive and respectful. It also means being clear, direct and honest.
It’s not always easy to be assertive. We may have been raised with stereotypical beliefs that men need to be aggressive and that women need to take care of others first. Or we might fear creating conflict, being criticized or rejected. Self esteem has a lot to do with how assertive we are.
I’ve had experience with not always “practicing what I preach.” I’ve encouraged individuals I’ve worked with for years to stand up and speak up for themselves. But it’s not easy. It’s a skill that takes practice. I still need to practice it.
It may be easier to scream at someone or swallow our feelings and not say anything, but being assertive is better because it respects you and others. It also helps us to stay calm and relaxed in stressful situations.
Stuttering openly can be stressful. We become vulnerable. Being comfortable and assertive and letting your needs be known can relieve stress.
Here are some tips for stuttering assertively:
Use “I” statements. Practice using “I” statements with someone you feel comfortable with. Saying “I stutter. I am OK with it and hope you are too” puts you comfortably in control of the communication encounter and gives your listener a cue as to how to react.
Maintain good eye contact. Practice maintaining eye contact while doing some voluntary stuttering. Maintaining eye contact is a sign of self-confidence.
Be brave enough to respond even when someone reacts negatively to your stuttering. If someone laughs or makes fun of your stuttering, consider saying something like, “hey, I stutter, and I really don’t like it when someone laughs at me. It hurts my feelings.” Consider practicing saying that with someone you trust.
Reframe negative thoughts into positive ones. When your mind says you can’t do something because you stutter, turn that around into an opportunity for a challenge.
Being assertive means letting your voice be heard and seizing speaking opportunities.
It also means being kind to yourself – if an attempt at being assertive doesn’t work, don’t swallow your feelings and revert to silence. Try again the very next time the opportunity presents itself.
This year’s International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) online conference begins on October 1, 2013 and runs for three weeks through October 22, 2013.
Authors will present papers on a variety of topics relating to stuttering – attitudes and feelings, therapy techniques, research updates and personal experiences.
Presenters are a mix of people from the international stuttering community – people who stutter, family members of people who stutter, clinical therapists and scientific researchers. This is an exciting conference where different voices from all over the world are heard.
This will be a treasure trove of information on stuttering, and you will have the opportunity to interact with the paper authors and ask questions of professionals in the field.
Plan to check out the conference and plan to learn a lot. Spread the word!