Make Room For The Stuttering

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I participated in a great conversation this week about ways to build confidence if you stutter. During a Stutter Social chat, a young person asked how some of us more “seasoned stutterers” deal with the anxiety of stuttering in certain speaking situations.

Some people shared their experiences from speech therapy, some shared from their perspective on acceptance and two of us talked a little about Toastmasters.

The following are some of the ideas that we shared about building confidence. Maybe you’ve tried some of them. Maybe you’ve got a suggestion to add.

  • Don’t obsess or rehearse before hand. That increases anxiety and decreases spontaneous conversation.
  • Consider advertising and letting listeners know that you are a person who stutters.
  • Try using voluntary stuttering to help you gain some control during the speaking situation.
  • Seize opportunities to speak, such as Toastmasters clubs or other speaking forums. Practice helps reduce anxiety and build confidence.
  • Remind yourself that you have as much right to be in that speaking situation as the next person, that your voice deserves to be heard.
  • If someone interrupts you, calmly let them know you’re not finished speaking yet and then proceed to complete your thoughts, no matter how long it takes.

What do you think? Do you have anything to add?

 

 

PamEpisode 123 features Carmen Shapiro, who hails from Downington, PA. Carmen is originally from Spain and has been in the US for 23 years.

She works as a project manager in an IT department of a pharmaceutical company. She is also the new leader of the Philadelphia NSA Chapter, since November 2013.

Carmen recently returned from her first conference of the National Stuttering Association and we discuss her experience and reflections. She shares how welcome she felt at the conference and how that made her feel more confident about introducing herself to so many people.

We also spend a good amount of time discussing disclosure and why it can be so hard to do. Carmen opens up to her fears and we talk about some different ways to disclose.

This was a wonderful and insightful conversation. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions or just let Carmen know what a great job she did.

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

 

PamEpisode 119 features Heather Cazares, who hails from Edinburgh, Texas. Heather is studying to be a speech language pathologist at The University of Texas – Pan American. Heather is also mom to a three year old daughter.

Heather is a NSA Chapter leader for a new chapter she founded just last August. Heather was looking for ways to advertise her new chapter and sought out an opportunity to be interviewed on TV.

Listen in as we talk about Heather’s experiences with leading a new support group. We also talk about the importance of self-advocacy.

Heather also shares that stuttering runs in her family, on both sides. I ask Heather if she worries about her own child stuttering.

This was a great conversation with a strong young woman who is making a difference in her community. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions in the comment section, for feedback is a gift.

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

I had the wonderful opportunity two weeks ago to speak to 9th graders about my stuttering and how it has impacted my career. I really should say that I “took” the opportunity to speak about stuttering.

You see, I was invited to speak to the students about my career as part of their annual Career Day. Since it was on May 15th and during National Stuttering Awareness Week, I felt I needed to weave my stuttering story into my talk. I find I can no longer talk about my career without also talking about stuttering.

I took a pretty big leap of faith that this would be OK and I faced stiff competition. The students were also going to be hearing from people who do cool things with science and who get to design video games for a living. One guy even brought a robot.

But I decided to talk about how my career has changed over the years and how being open about my stuttering has helped make me memorable.

Yep! I talked about being memorable and used stuttering as an example. I reminded the kids that we all have “something” – mine just happens to be stuttering. Being successful includes shifting whatever the something is that we maybe don’t like and turning it into an asset. I shared how that mindset shift has helped me come to terms with my stuttering and “use” it in a way that people will remember.

It’s important in job interviews to “stand out from the crowd” in some way. I have done that by openly disclosing that I stutter and by openly stuttering.

The kids were great. I had to do my presentation 6 times to 6 different groups, so I was tired by day’s end, but the kids were engaging and asked lots of good questions. They were curious about stuttering. Some mentioned that they have a sibling or cousin who stutters. Their questions were thoughtful.

One girl came up to me after class and told me that she has a brother who stutters and she was very glad I had come in to talk to their class. She gave me a hug.

Another girl came up to me in a different class and gave me the below note. It brought tears to my eyes. I definitely believe I made the right decision to talk about stuttering that day. Any time you can go and talk to kids about stuttering, differences, tolerance and respect, do it. It makes a difference.

letter

 

 

 

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.

 

This week marks National Stuttering Awareness Week. It is an opportunity for the 1% of the population that stutters to raise awareness and educate the 99% of the population that doesn’t stutter.

We get to let people know how unique we are and that stuttering is just a different way of communicating.

To me, it’s very important that we approach stuttering awareness from a positive perspective. Note that I said that we get to let people know how unique we are.

It’s easier to bring up stuttering in a positive way, instead of introducing it as a disorder, which immediately implies something negative.

This week, I have been asked to be a speaker at a Career Day at a local high school. I will be talking about my career, how I got here, educational and experience requirements. I’ve decided I am also going to talk about stuttering during my presentation, which I will give 5 times, to 5 different classes.

On reflection, I felt that I couldn’t talk about my career without also talking about stuttering. And it perfectly worked out that the presentation is scheduled this week, right smack in the middle of National Stuttering Awareness Week.

I’ll be honest and admit that I’m a little nervous about talking about stuttering in my talk on Career Day. I am worried about how it will be received and whether the high school kids will be interested. But I’ve committed to it and have begun incorporating bits of my personal story into my career presentation.

I am going to trust myself that my talks will go well and that I will educate kids on a new experience.

What will you do to mark National Stuttering Awareness Week?

 

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.


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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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