Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘kids who stutter

I just recently returned from a trip to the west coast, that included a weekend in Tempe, Arizona for the 2nd Annual National Stuttering Association Regional Fall Conference.

The regional conferences are similar to the national conferences except that they are on a much smaller scale. 104 people attended this event in Arizona, making it a very intimate gathering where you actually got to know and talk with one another.

There was a mix of adults who stutter, parents, kids and teens and some SLPs. I had a great experience at the workshops, which focused on communicating with ease, managing anger and successful speech management. There was also a great Open Mic session where people told very personal, inspiring stories.

But the best part for me was seeing young people embrace the experience and totally blossom in the presence of other people who stutter. That almost always happens at stuttering conferences but it was magnified this time since it was such a small group.

Young people like Aiden, Diego and Regan felt comfortable to get up and speak to the whole group several times and they shared such pearls of wisdom. They talked about it being OK to stutter, that if you stutter, you’re not alone and that together, we are strong. These are mottoes of the NSA, but to hear them come out of the mouths of babes, so confidently and convincingly, was so inspiring.

Young people who stutter today are fortunate to interact with adults who stutter and vice versa. We adults got so much out of the kid’s confidence and were reminded that if they can speak up and advocate for themselves, then we certainly can too.

Young Regan, 11 years old, really impressed me. She has the self-assurance and sense of humor of a much older teen and clearly feels comfortable in her skin. Her mom was thrilled that they were able to attend their first conference. I fully expect Regan to one day be in a leadership position for the NSA. The kids are our future and it seems like we’ll be in great hands.

EpiPamsode 136 features Dori Lenz Holte, who is a parent of a child who stutters. Dori hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota and is the author of the book, “Voice Unearthed: Hope, Help and a Wake-Up Call for the Parents of Children Who Stutter.”

Dori also has a blog and a Facebook group offering support for the parents of children who stutter.

Dori says she wrote the book she wished she had read when she was starting out on the journey with her son Eli, who stutters and is now 18.

Listen in as Dori describes how traditional speech therapy affected her child and the frustration and desperation she and her husband felt as parents.

She talks about being told to “keep looking” for a speech therapist who was a specialist in stuttering.  That period of “keep looking” added to the silence and withdrawal that her son was experiencing as a young child who was trying, and failing, to use speech tools and techniques.

Dori also discusses the need for parents to keep their eye on the big picture, which is to raise confident and happy children. And parents should listen to their instincts.

This was an important conversation. Thanks Dori for being a guest.

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


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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.

I just finished the excellent book Paperboy by Vince Vawter and couldn’t stop smiling.

Paperboy is the story of an 11-year-old boy who takes over his best friend’s paper route for a month during July in Memphis. Victor is happy to help his friend out, but secretly obsesses over having to communicate with customers when he collects the weekly fee.

Young Victor stutters and the author perfectly captures the feelings, fears and worries that come with being different. We are able to get right into Victor’s head as he practices speaking to some of his customers and as he fervently switches trouble words for words he can say without stuttering.

The author uses a unique style to depict dialogue throughout the story and conveys through words what Victor’s stuttered speech sounds and feels like.

This story will resonate with young people and adults who stutter, as it depicts a real life situation that all of us who stutter can relate to. Victor uses some speech therapy techniques to make his stuttering easier, and he also uses avoidance, which will be all too familiar to many of us who try to be covert!

Paperboy is the story of a kid who is a great baseball pitcher, a friend and a youngster who is learning how to communicate with adults, stand up for himself and learning about empathy.

We learn about his relationships with his parents, his Mam, his peers and the adults he encounters on his paper route. And we root for him as he finds himself in some tough situations and as he gradually becomes more self-aware.

This is a great book about stuttering, life and coming of age. It’s geared for young people, but adults (including parents of kids who of stutter) will love it too.

Put it on your reading list. You won’t be sorry!

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I am thrilled to be featured this week on my friend Daniele’s site, Stuttering is Cool. Daniele is working on a book offering advice and coping strategies for people who stutter. He is aiming for a Spring 2014 release of his book.

Daniele interviews me on who I am, what I do, my stuttering history and what advice I offer to kids who stutter. Check it out HERE!

Check out the drawing of me Daniele has done. He has done caricatures of people in the stuttering community that will be included in his book.

Very cool!

It’s that time of year when it’s back to school or college. For young people who stutter, this can be a tough time, as it means meeting new people and teachers and having to introduce yourself, which can be very difficult for people who stutter.

Many people who stutter have trouble saying their own name, which of course results in often dumb comments by listeners, like the famous, “did you forget your name?” That’s happened to me as an adult, and it’s hard to take, so for kids and teens who stutter, it can be particularly tough.

I know a lot of young people who stutter who have learned how to self advocate and talk to their teachers about their stuttering, what it is and what the young person needs from his/her teacher in order to be their most successful.

I heard today from the mom of one of these great kids who is starting high school this year. Transitioning to high school is tough enough but add stuttering to the mix and it can be a terrible experience for kids who stutter. Fear, embarrassment and avoidance can become the norm unless the kid knows good self-advocacy skills.

My young friend wrote a letter to her teachers and met with the vice principal of her new high school to let him know she stutters, what will make things easier for her throughout the year and to ask his support in getting her letter to her teachers. The letter basically states, “Hey, I’m Anna and I stutter” and goes on to state what stuttering is and how she and her teachers can work together to ensure Anna has a positive and productive year.

I am so proud to know this kid. Being able to self-advocate is a skill we all need in order to successfully navigate through life. And this kid is 14.

Good for her.

What are you doing to get ready for back to school or college? Not even as a student – are you an adult who stutters who works in education and maybe tries to hide your stuttering? We can all learn from Anna!

I want to share a good stuttering experience I had this week.

On Saturday, I participated in a Block Party held in my community and represented the National Stuttering Association at an information table. It was a great day – the weather cooperated and it was warm, which brought a lot of people out.

I had many visitors to my table and delighted in being able to share information about stuttering, both to those who did not know much about it and to several who did.

One of the first visitors to my table was 6-year-old Charlie who stutters. He was with his uncle. We talked about stuttering and I gave the uncle some resource material. I gave Charlie a pin, a wrist band and a chinese finger trap, which illustrates what it’s like to get stuck in a stuttering block.

By the end of our brief conversation, Charlie was stuttering like a rockstar and grinning from ear to ear.

I also met 9-year-old Taylor who also stutters. He shared with me the 3 ways he stutters – repetitions, stretches and blocks. He knew blocking very well and schooled me on it. He too left the table with a big grin.

Later in the day, the city mayor came over and introduced himself and we chatted a bit. The mayor shared that he had stuttered as a kid, which led him to be quiet. He said, “when you’re quiet, you don’t stutter.” He said his stuttering stopped when he was in his teens.

He also asked me if I knew the former mayor of another city near us, who stutters. I did and we talked about our admiration for his willingness to be vulnerable every day in his public speaking. He is no longer the mayor, but holds a different role in state government.

It was a great day to raise awareness and educate about stuttering. The two little guys who openly stuttered made my day!

Several years ago I would never have imagined that I could be out in public willingly talking about stuttering, while stuttering, just to educate others. I have grown so much in my journey.

I encourage all of you to take opportunities when you can to participate in community events and volunteer to be an ambassador for stuttering. You will reap the rewards, I promise you.

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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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