Make Room For The Stuttering

Stuttering Gives Us An Edge – Episode 9

Posted on: June 19, 2010

Episode 9 features Beth Bienvenu, from Olney, Maryland, located outside of Washington, DC. Beth works for the US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy.

As a woman who stutters, Beth has  used her personal journey as a stutterer to raise awareness at the federal government level. She offers advice about reasonable accommodations that one can ask for to make stuttering in the workplace a non-issue.

Beth has been involved with the National Stuttering Association for six years and attributes self-help and support to helping her move toward acceptance of her own stuttering.

In our chat, Beth shares valuable information and resources for career success. She has been very instrumental in facilitating a Career Track at the upcoming NSA conference in Cleveland in July. For more information on accommodations in the workplace, visit the Job Accommodation Network.

Musical credit for the intro and out-tro of  the song “I’m Gonna Go” goes to Dano Songs.

As always, your feedback and support is appreciated. Feel free to leave comments or ask Beth some questions.

7 Responses to "Stuttering Gives Us An Edge – Episode 9"

Again a great podcast, thank you Pam and Beth. I too have been covert and so can relate to all your thoughts regarding this including not like hearing myself stammer, although I hate talking about it as well.
I now due to increase in my stammering, am not covert and have spoken to my new employees and they said they would like me just to be myself ,which meant a great deal to me after hiding it for so many years .
I also think the point of PWS being more understanding and sensitive towards people who are different or with disabilities is true. I am a very empathetic person which I’m proud to have in my build up and if stammering is the cause of that, then its not such a bad thing .
Thanks again Ladies

Lisa – That’s great your employees just want you to be yourself. That’s part of the battle with being covert. The more we hide it the less authentic we’re being. You might be able to hear some of my covert behaviors on the podcast. I wasn’t necessarily stuttering but my speech had some starts and stops when I was trying to avoid a block. I’m not necessarily avoiding words or situations, but I’m not speaking as freely as I should.

And I know that adversity doesn’t make everyone more sensitive and empathetic, but I’ve met a lot of wonderful PWS who I know have these qualities in abundance (which is why I know so many cool people through the NSA!).

Thanks Beth and Pam. I really enjoyed this!! Great podcast! It is so refreshing to hear from so many women who stutter.
When you were talking about stuttering in the workplace, I couldn’t help remembering my second job as a speech pathologist. I was covert on the interview. I was so proud of myself. My first job I stuttered and was open about it. They hired me almost on the spot and appreciated my honesty. My manager at my second job was a speech pathologist who became angry upon hiring me when she realized I stutter. She threatened to fire me if I didn’t become more fluent. This was a rehab site and they were interested in one thing alone: earning money. It was a nightmare but I rose above and helped alot of people. I left after a while and never hid it again. Thanks to both of you!!

Lori – Wow, that’s great that you were able to do a good job in the face of such a bad manager. Congrats! It shows that it’s often better to be up front. I always advise people that when your stuttering is apparent in an interview, to address it up front and let them know that you can still do the job, and even how it makes you a better worker/person/etc. In this competitive job market, you don’t want to do anything that casts doubt on your efficacy on the job but it’s also best to be honest.

I’m glad you liked the podcast. I had a great time doing it. Pam’s awesome!


Hi ladies. Really informative podcast. I wish I had disclosed at my job interview that I stutter. I didn’t and now I am having to tell colleagues and my manager. It’s much harder to disclose after people think they know you as fluent. The thought of telling someone at a job interview makes me feel quite sick with fear and shame but I’d like to think I could do it if and when I interview again. Interesting too Beth to hear about your family background – youngest like me. Not being heard etc. Great job too on the interviewing skills Pam. You are sounding more and more natural and comfortable as you grow into the role.

Hi Lisette! I understand why people don’t want to disclose – we don’t necessarily have to in an interview, but perhaps once you start the job it might be good to let people know.

I wonder if there’s ever been a study done on stuttering and birth order. I’m sure there’s no connection, but it would still be interesting to see.

I loved how Beth said that even though she accepts stuttering, she still doesn’t like doing it. I think that’s a very honest statement. I also feel the same way. Well, I don’t mind it so much when I keep my tension down, but on those days or times when I am not keeping the tension down and block hard, I just don’t like doing it! I agree that it doesn’t feel good to not be able to say what you want to say when you want to say it. I don’t think I’ve heard many people who accept stuttering say that, and it was refreshing. We’re still human too!

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