Make Room For The Stuttering

Advertising My Stuttering

Posted on: July 1, 2011

I am actively involved in the two major stuttering self-help communities here in the US, the National Stuttering Association (NSA) and FRIENDS. I have tried to give back and help out both organizations over the last few years, as both have had a profound impact on my life.

Since I am basically a “starving artist” type, its hard for me to make financial contributions. But I can give my time and volunteer, which I have done for both organizations.

This year for the NSA, I reached out and advertised my stuttering to 10 local businesses. I asked them to purchase an ad in the program for the upcoming conference and sent them information. I only heard back from 3 of them. I don’t think any actually purchased an ad! But I advertised!

For FRIENDS, I decided to actively sell raffle tickets for a prize that will be drawn at the July conference by David Seidler, the Academy Award winning screenplay writer for the movie “The King’s Speech”. By last week, I had sold 522 tickets! The raffle coordinator sent me another 10 booklets I requested, and I took them with me on errands I ran over the weekend.

I had about 4 booklets of tickets left when I stopped in the local grocery store on a Saturday night. I decided to advertise my stuttering at the customer service desk and ask employees if they would be interested in supporting efforts to help kids who stutter.

A funny thing happened!

I used some voluntary stuttering, which quickly turned into real stuttering as I gave my pitch. Two managers and the clerk behind the counter all agreed to buy tickets. I was thrilled!

A woman standing next to me, who obviously heard this exchange, scrounged in her pocket and produced a dollar in change and asked to buy one ticket. She said she really couldn’t afford it, but wanted to help. I was touched. She also said that she knows people can be cruel and she hoped her tiny bit helped. I assured her it did!

Now here’s the funny, or strange, part. As I waited for the buyers to fill out their parts of the raffle tickets, I explained a little bit about FRIENDS. By now, I was just plain stuttering well.

After everybody finished, I collected the money, made sure everyone had their half of the tickets, and then thanked them. All three employees used the term “honey” with me. One said, “no problem, honey, good luck.”  One manager who I see a lot also said, “sure honey, good luck” and the other manager also said, “have a good evening, honey, good job!”

Now, I achieved my goal of selling some tickets, raising money for FRIENDS and raising awareness of stuttering. And I definitely advertised my stuttering, even using a little bit of voluntary stuttering.

I felt discouraged when I left the store. I felt they had been condescending with me, almost like they felt sorry for me because I stutter and WAS stuttering. All three of these folks were younger than me, one in her twenties! I have never liked when a young person in retail or fast food has referred to me as “honey” or “sweetheart.”

But this seemed different. What do you think? Has this ever happened with you? Actually, have you ever advertised stuttering like this?

7 Responses to "Advertising My Stuttering"

For anyone reading who cares,I have now sold 582 raffle tickets for Friends! I am not a kid who stutters, but I think this is very cool! 🙂

Pam, what an awesome job!!! Be proud of yourself for putting yourself out there. I get the term “honey” used quite a bit when I order at restaurants. I think it’s because I loook younger than I am, and in that context, I don’t see it as being condescending. I sometimes get it other places where that’s just how the person is addressing me. But I was not there so, I don’t know how they meant for the term “honey” to come across. Again, AWESOME JOB!!! It’s hard to put yourself out there to strangers.

I see your point about the “honey” term, but at the same time I live in the South and it’s used ALL the time…whether one is a PWS or not, regardless of one’s age, too. My opinion is mixed for that reason, but if it FELT that way to you, then validate those feelings. You were incredibly brave to get on that PA system and announce like that. That took unbelievable courage, Pam. I think these people generally were expressing their feelings for you, and honey is definitely a term of affection. But, I wasn’t there to witness it, so this “honey” might be quite a ways from the hive! 😉

Hi Pam

Kudos on your advertising and on all your hard work in support of the NSA and Friends. Keep up the good work.
In general, I would say that advertising is always a good idea. It’s like the adage about eating chicken soup when you’re ill – “It can’t hurt”. What we need to remember, though, is that we can’t control people’s reactions to our stuttering or advertising about stuttering. People are going to think what
think they think, so we need to learn to accept/tolerate those reactions and the emotions that go along with them. This aspect of stuttering is what makes it so “incidious”. If we don’t speak, no one knows we stutter, but then we’re not communicating and feel frustrated, lonely, separated, etc. When we do speak and stutter, we get all the reactions and emotional stuff that comes along with the stuttering. So yea, it might be a little wierd for a twenty-something to refer to you as “honey”, but so what. We can either be silent and no one knows we stutter or we can say what we want to say. One of the ways that I advertise is that I have a “Famous PWS” poster in my office. It’s a nice easy way to advertise and generally leads to conversations about stuttering.
See you next week in Fort Worth

Hi Pam,

It’s great to read of your active involvement within the NSA and FRIENDS. It must give you a huge degree of personal satisfaction.

I began advertising my own stutter 11 years ago by initially approaching total strangers in the street, in stores, in restaurants, on trains, at airports etc. I also undertake an extensive programme of talks to community organisations (in an attempt to create a greater public awareness about stuttering), as well as mounting a soapbox at public locations in the US and UK.

When I began speaking openly about (what had always been) my ‘darkest secret’, I must admit that I had considerable reservations. However, these were short-lived. My perceptions about what other people think of someone with such communication issues have completely changed. I’ve been so heartened by the positive responses I have received. My policy of greater openness has also had a hugely desensitizing effect.

Pam, please don’t feel discouraged by the fact that someone chose to address you as ‘Honey”. Instead, take satisfaction from the fact you fulfilled your INTENTIONS by disclosing your stutter to persons with who you were not familiar. Although we are able to bring direct influence to bear upon our INTENTIONS, it is difficult to have a similar impact upon our EXPECTATIONS (namely what we wish the outcome to be). The reactions of others lie outside our control.

And finally, not surprisingly, I’ve never had anyone address me as “honey”. 🙂

Kindest regards

Alan B

Hi Pam,

I’ve just noticed a typo in my original post. In the penultimate paragraph, I intended to write – “Instead, take satisfaction from the fact you fulfilled your INTENTIONS by disclosing your stutter to persons with whom you were not familiar.”

Kindest regards

Alan B

Pam, I hope we will talk in lenght about all this in Texas (can someone reassure me that I won’t die from heat there?), but please keep doing this. And don’t double guess people who reach out to you. I at first was afraid that my fellow Toastmasters kept giving me “best speaker” ribbons only because they felt sorry for me sunce I stuttered so badly andkept talking about it at every occasion. Now I stopped thinking like this. Instead I think that people open up when we open up to them. They access something pure and true inside their hearts, when we simply show them who we are. Here is a phrase from a letter written to me yesterday by a wife of one of our Toastmasters with whom we had lunch and some pretty good conversation (of course I talked about my journey of overcoming stuttering too): “We look forward to getting to know you and your family better in days to come. You are an extraordinary woman, Anna. Know this! I will see you coming to know this truth more every day. I am grateful for your friendship, and look forward to our next time of learning more from each other.” Those are words from the heart and I am accepting them with gratitude. Remember Pam – when you open your heart, many hearts open toward you in return.

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