Make Room For The Stuttering

Today I read a really interesting article about using virtual reality to help people who stutter confront some of their social anxieties.

It seems a 24 year medical product designer in the UK is developing software that can expose people to some of their anxiety triggers and help them to improve how they react. The young designer stutters himself.

The software was tested with a stuttering self help support group and participants showed a decrease in anxiety levels after repeated sessions with the software. Some also showed improvement concerning their speech.

The goal of the virtual reality software is to allow people to practice exposure therapy from the comfort of their own home.

You can read the article here.

What do you think? Would you be open to using something like this to work on stuttering related anxiety? It certainly sounds promising!

PamEpisode 168 features Hannah Smith who hails from Langley, British Columbia, Canada. Hannah is a home based Certified Nutritional Practitioner. She is able to work with anyone in the alternative health care field. Learn more about Hannah here at Fraser Valley Nutrition.

Listen in as we discuss how a balanced, healthy and active lifestyle has positively impacted Hannah’s speech. We discuss stuttering and anxiety, being open about and advertising stuttering and how to deal with the stress of stuttering.

We also discuss Hannah’s involvement in the stuttering community. She recalls meeting someone else who stutters for the first time when she was 16 and how that made her feel less sad and alone. And we talk about therapy and how it’s not for everyone and is definitely not “one size fits all.” Hannah also mentions how her stuttering almost serves as an alarm, telling her when she is unhappy or uncomfortable.

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

 

Many people who stutter worry about how to manage job interviews. It has been said that interviews are the single most stressful communication situation that a person who stutters faces. It can be intimidating trying to prove that you meet the expectations of excellent verbal communication.

I used to be one of those people. I definitely worried about how I would handle when stuttering reared it’s ugly head during a job interview. I ultimately wound up disclosing at the start of the interview conversation that I stutter.

These days I am dealing with being on the other side of the interview table. I am helping to interview students who are applying to our college in the high school programs. So I am asking the questions and trying to make the student candidates feel at ease.

I have not disclosed at the start of the interviews that I stutter. I don’t feel it’s relevant to why the student is there. I’m stuttering – especially when I have to read one of the questions from the scripted set of questions we use. I’ve noticed a couple of raised eyebrows and smiles when I’ve stuttered but nothing beyond that. I think the students are too nervous themselves to give me and my stuttering much thought.

I am an effective communicator even when I stutter. I am confident in my ability to convey my message and I don’t let my stuttering stop me from doing this part of my job. I think just plowing ahead and speaking with confidence is the way to go, as when I’m confident, it lets the student know to have confidence in me.

Have any of you ever had the experience of being on the other side of the interview table? How did it go?

 

PamEpisode 167 features Hazel Percy, who hails from East London, in the U.K. Hazel works in an elderly care home, but her real passion is in public speaking and giving talks in her community. She enjoys sharing her journey towards getting over stuttering.

Listen in as Hazel shares her experiences with early speech therapy, The McGuire Program, and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP.)

Hazel also talks about how she was influenced by people who seemed to have recovered from stuttering, and she became very interested in learning about natural fluency. These days, she combines techniques learned from the McGuire program with elements of natural fluency. Hazel is also a proud 4 year member of Toastmasters.

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

Producer Note: Yes, there is a lot of static in this episode. We had a transatlantic internet connection and it was not always the best. Focus on Hazel’s content – what she has to say is worth listening to!

Last night in a Stutter Social hangout, we had a rousing conversation about whether one would take a pill to cure stuttering if it was available. There were 8 of us in the hangout and there was a lot of discussion on the pros and cons of suddenly being fluent.

Several people said they would take such a pill in a heartbeat. They want fluency and the ease of communication that comes with it. They couldn’t really fathom why someone who stutters would choose NOT to take the pill.

Several people indicated that they wouldn’t take the pill because they’re not sure they’d like the person they might become. After stuttering so many years, one of course gets used to being the person they are, stutter and all. And some said that stuttering has helped shape the person they are.

One person said that stuttering or suddenly being fluent brings us choices. Fluency would bring us choices that we don’t now have. We might choose to put ourselves in speaking situations that we’d never dream of now.

And it was mentioned that if we didn’t stutter, we wouldn’t have the rich connections and friendships we now have in the stuttering community. Of course, we’d have other friendships with people that don’t stutter that certainly could be just as rich as those we’ve made.

It’s certainly an interesting question. Personally, I wouldn’t take such a pill. Being covert so long, I hated my stuttering and did everything I could to deny it existed and to pretend that I was fluent. It worked but at a toll. It was physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting to live a life of hiding. When I finally couldn’t take it anymore – when I felt so inauthentic I felt like a fraud – I made the decision that I wasn’t going to live like that anymore.

I embarked on a journey of self discovery that I could live, and even thrive, with stuttering. I learned how to stutter openly and to accept that it’s a part of me. I learned how to stutter fluently. It took me over 8 years to reach that point and as far as I ‘m concerned, there’s no going back. I like who I am. I like all the pieces that make up me. And stuttering is one of those pieces.

What about you? If there was a pill you could take that made you fluent, with no side effects, would you take it?

PamEpisode 166 features Kim Block, who hails from Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. Kim works as a secretary at a school for the deaf and knows sign language. She says, “It’s the only language I am fluent in.” Kim is married to her husband David who also stutters and they have two children.

Students and staff at her school are very supportive of Kim’s stuttering because she celebrates it. Every October, she has a party to celebrate International Stuttering Awareness Day. She emails tidbits about stuttering to colleagues and is very open about her stuttering. Peers are OK with her stuttering because Kim is OK with it.

Kim has also written a children’s book about stuttering. She wrote it for a little girl in her school who stutters because there were no books in the school library about stuttering. The book is called “Adventures of a Stuttering Superhero: Adventure #1 Interrupt-Itis.” Kim has plans for the book to have a total of nine adventures. She has read the book in front of the whole school. Kim wants kids first experience with stuttering to be positive.

Listen in to a great conversation that really celebrates stuttering.

The music clip used in this podcast is credited to ccMixter.

How many of you have speech or speaking goals for 2017? I usually don’t set speech goals for myself, because I tell myself I am comfortable with, and accepting of, my speech.

However, I have given this a lot of thought and there are some things I’d like to work on in the coming year. Since I finished Toastmasters and really don’t have a desire to go back anymore, I find I don’t have as many opportunities to push myself out of my comfort zone. I miss those monthly opportunities to speak regularly but I was tiring of the structure of Toastmasters.

Don’t get me wrong! Toastmasters was one of the best things I ever did for myself as a person who stutters. I found courage and confidence I didn’t know I had. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for speaking challenges. I just found that 7 years of bi-weekly meetings was enough. I do miss the people though.

Some of you may recall that I tried improv in 2016 for the first time ever and found that I really liked it. That was a big time push out of my comfort zone. I liked the “in the moment” spontaneity of improv and being to able to create something out of nothing just by taking a chance and thinking on your feet.

In 2017, I really want to take a second level improv class and learn more about being comfortable with spontaneity. I don’t want my stuttering to hold me back from taking creative chances with speech. So far, a second level hasn’t come up yet, but I will keep my eye out and watch for it.

I have a big speaking challenge coming up in April. I submitted a proposal and was approved to speak at the New York State Speech Language and Hearing annual conference. I will be giving a two hour workshop on “Reclaiming Her Space: From Covert to Overt Stuttering.” I am really excited about this but anxious at the same time. My perfectionist self really wants me to be perfect for this audience of SLPs and SLP students.

I know it’s not realistic to have expectations like that for this talk. I can only tell my story as best as I can and hopefully relay important information to the audience that will help them in some aspect of their work with people who stutter.

I also want to find some other speaking challenge or goal for the year. Does anyone have any ideas? I’d love your feedback.

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2016. 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 2016.