Make Room For The Stuttering

We Attend A British Stuttering Group

Posted on: April 10, 2010

BSA Support meeting, North London 3/29/2010

This might sound very weird, but attending a stuttering self help meeting in London was one of the highlights of my trip to England. When Steven from BSA emailed me through one of the stuttering chat groups I belong to telling me there was a meeting the week I would be there, I was immediately excited. I knew we had to go. All I had to do was convince my friends.

Lisa had never been to a support group before. As a matter of fact, I was the first person she had met face-to-face that stutters. Attending a meeting meant she would meet a whole bunch of people all at one time, and that could be overwhelming. I knew I would have my work cut out for me. I had directions, the tube stops and someone’s phone number in case we got lost. We needed all of that, as it was tricky getting there. And Lisa and Tone were up for it. A little nervous, but up for it.

We didn’t get lost. We arrived at the meeting with 5 minutes to spare, time enough to visit the loo (after our long walk) and get a libation. We met some of the members in the pub area. They apparently recognized us right away. Tone and I looked like foreigners and sounded like it too, with our Norwegian and American accents. After warm greetings, we headed up to the meeting, which was held in an upstairs room of  “The Wenlock Arms”, as traditional an English pub as one will find!

This is an ideal place for a meeting for two reasons. Rent was cheap (translation – FREE), and the group breaks at mid-point to go downstairs and refill their libation. Now that is an absolutely wonderful idea. Spirits definitely get people talking. One I might suggest for my meetings here in New York!

From the minute we walked in to the meeting, we felt welcomed. We could feel the welcoming energy in the room. There were 9 persons in attendance, plus us three guests.  The group leader, Liz, wisely thought  it would make sense to break down into smaller groups of 4, to give everyone the chance to chat and get to know each other. Having foreign visitors prompted good introductions and small talk about who we were, why we were there and what we shared in common.

It was great chatting with different people. And it was great seeing several women there, being very open and comfortable. Liz did a great job facilitating the meeting and Christine shared very openly about her stuttering experiences. I was most impressed with Christine – who put herself out there with severe stuttering and secondaries, but she was totally OK  with it. I admired her courage and self-respect, because I felt a bit uncomfortable at first listening to her. (I trust she is OK with me saying this – because I am being honest).

It’s  somewhat peculiar to me that a stutterer would find another person’s stutter uncomfortable to listen to. But in my case, I had not heard another woman with a severe stutter. I was proud to interact with Christine and feel her genuine desire to be herself and share herself.

After the small group meetings, the large group re-joined and some general sharing took place. That was great as well. People talked about what they are looking for in a support group, and why fellowship is so important. That I could relate to easily – for me, just being part of a group and feeling that I belong is very important.

A fellow named John asked to share some of his experiences with the group. John identified himself as a recovering stammerer ,and wanted to let people know what worked for him. He talked about NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). He had taken a course in the United States and felt that the cognitive reconditioning aspect of NLP really helped him gain fluency. He also spoke about success he has had with hypnosis and the fact that he took some acting classes, which also tremendously helped with his fluency.

I found myself listening intently as John spoke. I was not necessarily listening to his message. No, I was trying hard to hear any evidence that he had stuttered! Yep, I will admit that. When he first starting talking about NLP and hypnosis, I was skeptical. I thought he was trying to drum up business. But it became evident that he was just very passionate about these strategies that had worked for him. And I did hear some very mild stuttering once or twice, so he proved his credibility to me! Thanks John!

John took our email addresses and offered to share with anyone interested more in depth about what worked for him. He also acknowledged that what works for one may not work for another. I liked that – he wasn’t trying to offer false hope to anyone. There were a couple of young people there and at least one first-timer, and it is important, wherever we are, to not get anyone’s hopes up about “curing stuttering”. Right?

I was so happy to attend this meeting. Everybody was wonderfully kind, friendly and open. It affirmed for me what I already knew. That the stuttering experience is a shared experience. We all get it, and feel the same things, whether we are male or female, young or old, British or American or Polish or Indian. I will remember that special evening in North London for along time. The hospitality, the warmth, the camaraderie and the freedom – to be ourselves, all of ourselves, including our stuttering, for all the world to see.

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4 Responses to "We Attend A British Stuttering Group"

Great post, no matter how different we seem to be whether beliefs, race, or whatever once you get together we are more alike than different:)

Thanks for sharing. It was very interesting to hear about a support group out of the United States. I also think it was great that people talked about what helped them. I think that needs to be discussed more in general.

Awesome group of people!

Hi Pam

Thanks for the mention! I’m really glad you enjoyed the group meeting. I was going to attend but couldn’t make it in the end. I wish I went, it would have been great to meet you and your friends. My colleague Allan said it was a pleasure to meet you and says thank you for your kind words about his partner Christine.

If you ever find yourself in London again you’re always more than welcome at the group (I can’t promise the weather will improve though).

Take care
Steven

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