Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘workplace stuttering

Pam

Episode 121 features Natalia Kissamitaki who hails from Athens, Greece. Natalia is a graphic artist and she describes herself as very communicative and social. She is also a newlywed, having just married in January.

Natalia is one of the founders of the Greek Initiative for People Who Stutter. The idea for this initiative was planted several years ago, and was officially licensed by the Greek government one month ago. Check out their Facebook page here.

It is named the Greek “Initiative” because Natalia and others took initiative to advocate for an individual who was fired from his job as a police officer because of stuttering. They won, and the individual got his job back.

Listen in as we discuss workplace stuttering, the positive side of stuttering and learning to respect and accept differences.

We also discuss how the Initiative works with individuals and points them in the direction of the Greek Union of Speech Therapists.

This was a great conversation with a woman who does not let stuttering stand in her way. The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

I was at a meeting earlier in the week to begin planning for an upcoming large event. There were about 10 people on the committee and we all did not know each other.

So, we did the round robin of introductions, with people saying their names and which building or department we worked in.

I shared my name and then started to say which building I was from, but blocked as I was saying the first word. The block lasted only about 5 seconds, but was long enough to be noticeable.

A woman across from me laughed and said, “what, did you forget where you work?”

Ah, we’ve all heard this or been asked the equally ridiculous “did you forget your name?”

I’ve been so good over the past few years in not letting this bother me as it once did, but on this day, it did. The woman who laughed is a special needs teacher.

I didn’t expect for someone who works with people with differences and disabilities to be so quick to laugh and make such an offensive comment. I expected her to be more sensitive and professional.

That’s what stung the most. The expectation that someone “in the know” would be the last person to laugh and be rude.

I shared this with some friends in a Facebook group and they asked me how I responded. I didn’t respond – I said nothing as I didn’t want to draw any attention to how embarrassed I felt.

I wish this stuff wouldn’t happen but it still does. I’m an adult who stutters. Imagine how a kid would feel if they had been laughed at like that.

 

PamEpisode 118 features Natalie, who hails from London, England and currently is based in Bristol, England. Natalie is a beauty therapist and absolutely loves her job. She enjoys helping women look and feel good about themselves and looking the part herself.

Listen in as Natalie talks about the challenges and opportunities of a service profession that requires constant communication.

We talk at length about The McGuire Program, which has helped Natalie become a competent and confident communicator. She aspires to one day be a coach and course instructor for the program.

Natalie is an upbeat, social and bubbly young woman who doesn’t let stuttering stand in her way. It was a delight to chat and get to know her.

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

 

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

 

 

 

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?

 

Pam

Episode 116 features Sara MacIntyre who hails from Philadelphia, PA and presently lives in Brooklyn, New York. Sara is a SLP working with people who stutter at the American Institute for Stuttering (AIS) in NYC.

Sara was extremely covert about her stuttering for a long time and decided in her senior year of college that she needed a change. She describes a conversation with her parents where she disclosed that she still stutters.

It was then that Sara and her mom searched around for quality therapy and Sara found and decided to do a three-week intensive therapy at the AIS.

Listen in as we talk about meeting other people who stutter for the first time and a little bit about the therapy program at AIS. Sara also talks about her “stuttering closet,” giving herself a “free pass” at times and being kind to herself, and how she came to work as a SLP at AIS.

This was a great conversation and it was so nice getting to know Sara. Feel free to leave comments or questions below. Feedback is a gift.

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

 

 

 

Pam

Episode 115 features Cora Campbell, who hails from Temecula, California. Cora is a Speech Pathology Assistant and a NSA Chapter leader for a chapter she started just six months ago.

Listen in as we discuss career decisions and how stuttering often influences our career pathway. Cora mentions that she didn’t want to work in the “back of places.”

We also discuss advertising, openly stuttering in front of others and voluntary stuttering. Cora relates a story about meeting two women who stutter out in the community and how she chose to be open about her stuttering.

We also discuss how Cora got involved with the self help community and found the National Stuttering Association and went on to found her own chapter in her community.

Feel free to leave comments below. Feedback is a gift.

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

A great story out of Charlotte, NC today about a guy who stutters who decided to face his fears head on and try stand-up comedy to prove to himself that stuttering doesn’t control him.

Check it out.

Check out this great panel of strong women who stutter engaging in a conversation to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Pam

Episode 114 features Courtney Luckman who hails from Virginia, and presently lives in Chicago, Illinois. Courtney is a research intern at Lincoln Park Zoo, working as a primate behavior monitor. She is doing Great Ape behavioral research.

Courtney also has a part-time hostess job at an area restaurant and for fun enjoys reading and working on a memoir of her stuttering journey.

Listen in as we talk about why Courtney chose her career path. She never felt connected to people because of her stuttering, but could talk fluently to animals. She always knew she wanted to work with animals for her career.

Courtney also talks about pushing out of comfort zones, stuttering well, advertisement, control and the National Stuttering Association.

Courtney was influenced in different ways by John Harrison and Alan Badmington, who both were featured on my “men who stutter” podcast!

We also talk about the journey Courtney is taking by writing her book and how she realizes that she has had many moments that have shaped the person she has become.

The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter. Feel free to leave comments below. Feedback is a gift.

Pam

Episode 113 features Sarah Onofri who hails from Boston, MA. Sarah is an elementary ESL teacher, a Girl Scout leader and is also on the Board of Directors of the National Stuttering Association.

Sarah talks about how she got into teaching and how she handles her stuttering when it comes up with her students. Sarah was introduced to a teacher who stutters when she was 16 at her first NSA conference, which really reinforced to Sarah that she could indeed be a teacher.

Listen in as we talk about advertising, acceptance and actually talking about stuttering, which Sarah never did when she was young.

We talk about her early speech therapy experiences and how she first learned about the NSA. Sarah also talks the bond she and her mom have formed after attending annual conferences together.

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. Feedback is a gift.

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

Do you stutter more around the holidays? The Christmas holidays can be very stressful and tiring. People who stutter may find that their stuttering increases or is more noticeable around this time of year.

The holidays are often filled with increased socializing, office parties and gatherings with family members that you might only see once a year. It can be one thing for your family to know you stutter – but it can be another thing to actually stutter openly with family you don’t see regularly.

It can be daunting to initiate small talk at holiday gatherings or figure out when to jump into a conversation. And if you’re meeting people for the first time, like at holiday networking events, introducing yourself may be stressful. As we know, our names can be the toughest thing to say for some people who stutter.

I generally find that my stuttering is more noticeable at this time of year. The days are shorter, I get less sleep and it often feels very fast paced and frenzied. I stutter more when I’m tired and I’m very aware of that.

What about you? Do the winter holidays impact your stuttering one way or another? Is there anything you do to lessen the stress of stuttering around the holidays?

How many of you stutter professionally? That is, stutter on the job, openly without trying to hide it? I do!

It’s not always easy, as sometimes it feels awkward to allow myself to be so vulnerable in the workplace.

There used to be a time when I would switch words when I got into a block or stuttering moment. Or I would cough or clear my throat, anything to deflect attention away from that vulnerable moment.

Now, I just stay with it and allow myself to stutter, even when a tiny bit of embarrassment creeps in. I think that’s what I have the hardest time with – when I feel a flush of color to my necks and cheeks. I don’t actually feel embarrassed, but may LOOK embarrassed when that happens.

Has anybody had that happen? How does it make you feel? Are you OK with stuttering at work?

Pam

Episode 112 features Rachel Dancy who hails from Saginaw, Michigan. Rachel works as a job coach at Do-All, Inc. which is an agency that supports people with developmental disabilities.

Listen in as we discuss how Rachel chose her field of work and the importance of having a supportive work environment. We talk a bit about negative reactions to stuttering and the best ways to handle them.

We also hear from Rachel’s boyfriend, Rick, who shared his point of view on being the partner of someone who stutters. We discuss interrupting and why that happens from time to time.

This was a very honest and insightful conversation and it was great getting to know both Rachel and Rick.

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

Pam

Episode 110 features return guest Carolina Ayala who hails from Ajax, Ontario, Canada. Carolina and I are friends from attending the National Stuttering Association’s annual conferences and we stay in touch throughout the year.

Carolina works in the disability field with adults with intellectual impairments and is also a part-time educator at a local college. She also does volunteer work.

Listen is as we talk about the struggles Carolina has experienced at work related to her stuttering and the strategies she uses.

We also talk about the humanitarian mission work that Carolina has had the opportunity to do. She has gone on mission trips to Mexico, El Salvador, Thailand, Cambodia and most recently India. She shares some of the significant memories of the recent trip to India, of which she is very passionate about.

Carolina worked with exploited women in the Red Light District of Kolkata, and also spent time working with children whose parents are on the street.

She had the chance to meet a child who stutters, named Nata and tells us how she was able to share the stuttering experience with him.

Below is Carolina’s favorite picture from her trip to India – giving first aid to children on the streets.

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

givingfirstaidinINDIA


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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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