Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘stuttering as a disability

I’ve recently been thinking about disability, as I just finished writing a paper for the October ISAD conference. In my paper, I talk about the role other people play in defining a disability. Sometimes, society regards us as having a disability when we might not.

Interestingly, this coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA,) which was signed into law on July 26, 1990.

I also recently listened to an episode of the Stuttertalk podcast, where the social model of disability was discussed.

My mind wandered back several years ago to this amazing TED Talk by Sharon Emery, who talks about the person who listens as being disabled, as opposed to the person who stutters. I blogged about this a number of years ago, and included the link to Ms. Emery’s talk. It’s so worth watching again.

Also, I’m pretty excited to note that this is my 700th post on this blog. Pretty impressive, if I must say so myself.

PamEpisode 143 features Samantha Temme-Raberding, who hails from Toledo, Ohio, where she lives with her husband and one “fur-child.” Samantha is a SLP, currently working in a skilled nursing home.

Listen in as Samantha shares how she chose her profession and acknowledges that she considered careers that would require the least amount of communication. Samantha also discusses her years of avoidance and the anxieties and fears that had to be later undone.

The majority of this episode focuses on Samantha’s journey toward becoming a SLP and the lack of support and even negativity she faced in graduate school because she stutters. She chose speech pathology because she thought she’d be more accepted than other careers, but found that not to be the case.

Samantha shares that it was “highly suggested” that she participate in intensive therapy while in grad school, which interfered with her clinical work. Comments were made to her such as, “It’s a shame this career requires so much talking. Have you ever thought of going the research route?”

She was also told that her disfluency would take away time needed to spend with clients, and that she ranked in the top 5 of most severe stutterers a professor had ever heard.

Samantha’s story of perseverance is compelling and inspiring. She wants to shout out Marilee Fini who was an amazing mentor and support through her grad school experience.

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

This is an interesting story that brings up the issues of shame regarding stuttering.

Stutterer and country singer Tim Poe auditioned for the reality TV show  “America’s Got Talent” in Texas this past week. Before performing his song, his pre-interview showed him stuttering. So what, you might say.

Mr. Poe is a military veteran who claims he was injured in combat in Afghanistan and suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI.) He claims the stuttering is a result of the TBI.

Within 24 hours of his television audition, the media reported that Mr. Poe lied about being injured and that his stuttering was not the result of an injury, which would have made it neurogenic stuttering. It appears that Mr. Poe has indeed been a life-long stutterer and was so embarrassed that he felt he need to create an elaborate lie about his circumstances.

A lie that illustrates the shame of stuttering and a lie that illustrates disrespect to military veterans who have indeed been gravely injured.

I have heard of people who stutter who make up other reasons to explain stuttering, so they don’t have to admit or acknowledge the stuttering. People have coughed, cleared their throat, said they swallowed wrong, pretend to word switch.

Some people are so embarrassed and ashamed of their stuttering that they will do anything to hide it.

This example is extreme. What do you think?

Episode 11 of the series of conversations with men who stutter features Frank Stechel, who hails from Highland Park, New Jersey. Frank worked for the New York State Education Department for over 30 years, in the vocational rehabilitation field.

Frank felt it was practical for him to work in the disability field, as he was concerned that he might not find work due to his stuttering. He felt it made sense to work for an agency that helped people with disabilities as they wouldn’t discriminate against him.

We talk about being open about stuttering, and how Frank always would bring it up and invite questions during job interviews. Being open has always been most important to Frank.

Listen in as we discuss different speech therapy experiences, including the Hollins fluency shaping program. Frank uses fluency shaping tools he learned to modify his stuttering. We also discuss the variability of stuttering and how he often plays with different techniques to this day.

I look forward to meeting Frank and his wife at the National Stuttering Association conference in July of this year. Feel free to leave comments and feedback for Frank, or just thank him for sharing his story.

Music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

An interesting article appears in today’s Business Management Daily about a worker who stutters who is hoping to get a promotion at her job.

She is told by her supervisor that the new manager would be brought in from another department.

When the worker asks why, she is told, “we know you work well with the other typists. They know about your stutering problem. But this is for a manager position. What about the communica­tion skills?”

She is further told, “We simply wouldn’t be doing you a favor by promoting you into a job you couldn’t handle.”

Couldn’t handle? I stutter and speak publicly in my job every day! To managers, communications specialists, teachers, administrators.

Read the full article here. There is some brief discussion on the American’s With Disability Act (ADA.) What do you think? Is this for real, or as friend Burt suggests, written as a parody?

In yet another current media article about stuttering, this time in the Huffington Post, psychoanalyst Peter Wolson suggests that the cause of stuttering may be psychological. Read his complete piece here: Is Stuttering Biological or Psychological? (10/16/2011)

In part, he writes: “There is abundant research evidence for a biological predisposition for stuttering; however, environmental stressors, such as family relations, can produce internal psychological conflicts that cause stuttering.”

There were quite a few comments, including mine. I heard from some readers in the stuttering community that their comments were not approved to be posted on the article.

What do you think? There are many perspectives on this topic.

Kudos to my young friend, Philip Garber, who is featured in this New York Times article today, A Stutterer Faces Resistance, From the Front of the Class.

I know Philip, who is 16 years old, from the NSA. I have known him for a couple of years, so have had the opportunity to see him “grow up” as a young person with a profound stutter.

I also know Philip’s mom, Marin, who is mentioned in the article. I got to spend more time getting to know Marin at this year’s NSA conference in Ft Worth, Texas. We ran into each other at the airport on the way to Texas (!), and hung out quite a bit, sharing some meals together.

When this discouraging incident happened with Philip last month, Marin emailed me and asked my opinion of how Philip might handle the matter. We bantered a few thoughts back and forth, but ultimately Philip decided how it would be handled. He is quite skilled at self-advocacy.

I suggested that Philip should do a presentation to the faculty on stuttering awareness, and am pleased that he IS going to do this at some point.

Please take the time to read this article and the many comments (355 the last I saw!) The reactions are mixed.

What do you think? Do you think Philip was discriminated against? Do you think that the professor was reasonable in asking that Philip not speak in class? Is the article too one-sided? What lessons can be learned from this scenario?

Here’s a video that Philip did last year to commemorate International Stuttering Awareness Day, which is October 22. Hard to remember he is only a kid!

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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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