Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘National Stuttering Association

PamEpisode 148 features Karen Krajcer, who hails from San Antonio, Texas. Karen teaches creative writing to high school students and is also working on her own novel, titled “Whisper, Sing.”

The novel is about two siblings who stutter, who make dramatically different choices about how they deal with their stutter. Karen shares that the emotional truth of the novel is based on real life experience.

Listen in as we discuss what it is like to be a covert stutterer and how it can take over your whole life. We discussed missed opportunities, “coming out,” acceptance, speech therapy and so much more.

We also discuss Karen’s involvement in the National Stuttering Association – she reinstated the San Antonio NSA Chapter. Karen talks about how important it is for people to just show up at support meetings, as it can change their lives, like it did hers.

And we discuss Karen’s part in the book “Turning Points” which was discussed in the last podcast episode. Karen wrote an essay which became a chapter in the book called, “The Problem of Passing,” about her experiences as a covert stutterer.

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

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.

PamEpisode 147 features Mona Maali, who hails from Austin Texas. Mona was the chapter leader of the Austin National Stuttering Association (NSA) chapter for four years, and was named the NSA Adult Chapter Leader of the Year in 2010. Presently, Mona is a bookseller at an independent book store in Austin.

Mona also compiled, edited and published a book called Turning Points, which features the stories of many people from the Austin NSA chapter.

Listen in as we discuss parts of Mona’s story, where she honestly and courageously shares her journey both with stuttering and ADHD. She has lived with ADHD as long as she has with stuttering and both have had a profound impact on her life.

We discuss whether Mona thinks there is a connection between stuttering and ADHD. Mona shares that both disorders are highly stigmatized and often the individual is “blamed for” having the disorder. Mona didn’t receive help for either stuttering or ADHD while growing up.

The second half of our conversation focuses on how the book, Turning Points, came to be. It was a two year process of gathering other people’s stories and at the same time overcoming and delving deeply into Mona’s own personal journey.

turningpointsMona shares quite eloquently why she didn’t include her own story, and how she feels very hopeful to have published a book. She is very pleased with how it turned out. You can purchase the book at Amazon or at the NSA online store.

Today’s music is credited to ccMixter.

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A friend from the National Stuttering Association and Stutter Social, David Resnick, recently gave a great TEDx Talk on using technology to build empathetic resonance. I’ll let him explain in his talk exactly what that is.

I was thrilled to see another TED Talk where someone openly stutters and still communicates beautifully and effectively. Of course, my thrill was enhanced by the fact that I know David!

And it was great to see Stutter Social featured and explained. I have been a Stutter Social host for two years now and I love it. The sense of community from a virtual stuttering support group certainly does build empathy.

Enjoy David’s talk! It’s great!

PamEpisode 144 features return guest Briana Pipkin who hails from Dallas, Texas. Briana is 24 years old, and is looking to transition in her work to become a classroom teaching assistant. She had been a speech therapist assistant but really wants to be in a classroom setting.

Briana was on the show three years ago and wanted to come back on so she could stutter more openly, something she’s been working on over the last several years.

Listen in as we talk about interview preparation, covert stuttering and advertising stuttering. This episode focuses a lot on the recent conference of the National Stuttering Association, and about an advertising workshop that Briana attended.

We also talk about work, feared stuttering situations and transitioning from covert to overt stuttering.

The podcast safe music used in this episode  is credited to ccMixter. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions, for feedback is a gift.

I just returned from the annual National Stuttering Association conference, held in Baltimore, Maryland this year. I spent a week at the conference site, catching up with friends for a few days before the actual conference started.

To say I had an outstanding experience would be an understatement. It is hard to put into words what it is like to be immersed in the stuttering community for 5+ days. It is a time filled with connection, bonding, laughter and tears. Even though it had been a year since I had seen most people, we picked up as if it had only been a week. That’s the beauty of community.

It is also the time each year where stuttering is normalized. It is freeing to stutter openly with hundreds of people who share and get the otherwise isolating experience.

I was very involved in first timer activities at this conference, hosting the first timer’s orientation workshop and welcome luncheon. It was great to meet new people just coming into the community who have not been in an environment where stuttering is the norm.

Everywhere I turned, I heard people stuttering. It is almost magical to hear the different types of stuttering and to see people thrive in a patient, non-judgemental environment.

One first timer I met in person after having “met” him online in Stutter Social hangouts was Shane. He kept looking around in wonder and exclaiming how unbelievable it was for him to be there and to hear so much stuttering. He kept saying “thank you” to us “old timers” he met, as he was so grateful for the experience to be in a normalized, inclusive stuttering environment.

The sense of community at a stuttering conference picks you up, holds you up and surrounds you with love and support. People meeting each other for the first time hugged in greeting, as if they were old friends. Sharing something as personal as stuttering is an almost instant bond. Lifelong friendships are made at conferences and people eagerly look forward to the next one before the current one is even finished.

On my last day, I became overwhelmed with emotion as I was saying goodbye to new and old friends. As I hugged people, tears flowed and I got choked with emotion so strong it surprised me.

I guess I figured after 10 years of attending stuttering conferences, saying goodbye would be easier. Not true. I felt sadness and a yearning to stay with the community rush over me like waves crashing against a shore. It will be another year before I see most of these people and get to experience the magic of the stuttering community again.

Now, I am transitioning back into a world where fluency is the norm and I am in the minority. But I take the love and support of my stuttering family with me and I will remember the power of support and community. I can’t help but remember – it flows through my veins.

PamEpisode 141 features McKenna Rankin who hails from Dallas, Texas. McKenna is 26 years old and is currently studying for her National Counseling Exam. She will then be credentialed as a Licensed Professional Counselor. McKenna plans to be a mental health counselor and is interested in working with children.

Listen in as McKenna shares her journey with stuttering. She has found she has had to educate mental health counselors about stuttering, many who believe stuttering is anxiety based. It is exciting that McKenna is going into a field that she will be able to dispel a lot of myths about stuttering.

We also talk about a rock bottom moment that McKenna had when interviewing for grad school, where an interviewer asked her if she really thought she could be a counselor with her stuttering. This was the first roadblock McKenna saw to doing what she really wanted to do.

This propelled her to enroll in the Successful Stuttering Management Program (SSMP.) She says that was a life changing experience. She no longer shuts down because of stuttering.

We also discuss how stuttering helps her to have more empathy with clients and she thinks that will be an asset in her counseling practice.

The podcast safe music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter. Feel free to leave comments for McKenna.

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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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