Make Room For The Stuttering

Workshops In A Nutshell

Posted on: July 13, 2010

I had a packed four days at the 2010 NSA Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. I attended as many workshops as I could, in addition to the two that I did, along with doing videos of some of the teens. Here, I will give a quick summary of the workshops I attended and the key thought I took away from each.

Brother of Moses and Sister of Mary This workshop focused on gender differences in stuttering, and had workshop participants break into same-sex groups and discuss those things we as men and women who stutter find especially challenging. The groups then joined together for a shared discussion. Men seemed to find dating and chatting with opposite sex who don’t stutter harder. Women focused on issues of confidence. Question was asked does it seem that more women are covert than men. My take home point: men and women who stutter need to talk with each other and recognize that we can teach each other a lot.

Avoidance Reduction Therapy Several of my friends presented their experiences with this type of therapy led by Vivian Sisskin. This type of therapy does not focus on fluency shaping or targets or just treating speech mechanics, but rather helps stutterers accept stuttering so they can stutter easier, free of tension and struggle. Presenters, many of them young people, spoke about how reducing avoidance in their lives has significantly helped improve self-esteem and reduce feared situations. This was one of the best sessions I attended. My take home point: one must absolutely work on fears and feelings before any significant work can be done with speech tools.

I Need Your Love – Is That True? Great workshop discussing how often we feel compelled to seek the love and approval of others in order to determine our self-worth. We often feel that we don’t count unless we are told how we are valued by others and unless others pay attention to us. I often have felt the need to be loved and thought of highly by others – stems all the way back to childhood where I was always fearful of rejection. I grew up thinking I didn’t deserve to be happy! The workshop leader is also a minister, and she did a great job keeping the discussion based on spirituality and not faith-based. Key take home point: we must love and embrace our selves, all of our self, before others can love us.

Career Success: Human Services Networking Lunch Friday was Career Success day. There were a number of employment workshops available, including workplace discrimination, advertising your stutter and interviewing without really interviewing. There was also a networking lunch, where people with similar career goals could ask questions of people already in that field. I facilitated a great discussion on the dilemma of disclosing stuttering during job interviews and whether or not one who stutters should ask for reasonable accommodations. Key take home point: people who stutter are really worried and fearful about stuttering limiting them in the workplace. We need to talk with young people, share our ideas, and encourage them to seek mentors when ever possible.

Teens – Get Real: Real Life Fearful Speaking Situations Great workshop that used personal examples of one presenter’s experiences with sky-diving to illustrate how to overcome fearful moments. I joined a small group of teens who welcomed and included me in the discussion. They talked honestly about what they fear in everyday life as teens who stutter: being called upon in class, reading aloud, doing presentations, responding to rudeness, talking on the phone, the voice command feature on cell phones, and dealing with bullies. These kids were fearless talking about their fears. My take home point: dealing with fear allows us to do the impossible.

I will post another entry about the workshops I did, because this is getting long! NSA conferences are such a great opportunity to learn from each other. Hearing from each other is more inspiring that hearing a keynote from some person that used to stutter years ago and does not live with stuttering every day.

I am glad I had the opportunity to attend these sessions. The only drawback to attending a big conference is it is too hard to choose which workshops to attend. There are usually 5 or 6 scheduled at the same time. I do think I picked the right ones.

6 Responses to "Workshops In A Nutshell"

Thank you Pam !
I wish i could be there,i am so jealous of you!
You wrote about Vivian Sisskin treatment-she was one of the fewest students of the great Joseph Sheehan .
Every day i find how much this great man was right,how much he understood our problem!
I even recently translated his famous article “massage to stutter” to Hebrew on my Blog!

Thank you! I feel I didn’t do the best job of describing each one, but didn’t want to go on and on!
You should try to attend a NSA conference one day. Just meeting other people and talking freely is so amazing.
I chatted with an Asian dad who was there with his 2 sons that stutter. He was immersing himself in everything – his wife was there too, but didn’t want to go to anything, not ready to deal with it. He was so happy to be there and to talk with adults-reassured him it will be OK for his kids.
Vivian Sisskin’s program is amazing! Her clients who spoke were so confident and happy and proud!

Thank you Pam!
Your blog is personal and i don’t expect from you to be our reporter on NSA.
I hope some day ,there will be On Line Video Conferences ,and i could participate on it(this is not the same but it something)

Thank you for coming to Vivan’s workshop and for writing about it on your blog. She is truly amazing.

Thanks again for your work at the networking lunch. You took your table’s experience to a higher level, which was awesome! We need to plan how to make it better next year! (Thanks for your help in planning everything, BTW).

Thanks for posting this Pam. I wish I could have been there, especially to hear Vivian Siskin. I have heard her name for years, but never heard her speak. It makes me sorry I missed it. Thanks for taking the time to recap these workshops. Lori

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