Make Room For The Stuttering

From A Kid’s Perspective

Posted on: May 30, 2014

I had the wonderful opportunity two weeks ago to speak to 9th graders about my stuttering and how it has impacted my career. I really should say that I “took” the opportunity to speak about stuttering.

You see, I was invited to speak to the students about my career as part of their annual Career Day. Since it was on May 15th and during National Stuttering Awareness Week, I felt I needed to weave my stuttering story into my talk. I find I can no longer talk about my career without also talking about stuttering.

I took a pretty big leap of faith that this would be OK and I faced stiff competition. The students were also going to be hearing from people who do cool things with science and who get to design video games for a living. One guy even brought a robot.

But I decided to talk about how my career has changed over the years and how being open about my stuttering has helped make me memorable.

Yep! I talked about being memorable and used stuttering as an example. I reminded the kids that we all have “something” – mine just happens to be stuttering. Being successful includes shifting whatever the something is that we maybe don’t like and turning it into an asset. I shared how that mindset shift has helped me come to terms with my stuttering and “use” it in a way that people will remember.

It’s important in job interviews to “stand out from the crowd” in some way. I have done that by openly disclosing that I stutter and by openly stuttering.

The kids were great. I had to do my presentation 6 times to 6 different groups, so I was tired by day’s end, but the kids were engaging and asked lots of good questions. They were curious about stuttering. Some mentioned that they have a sibling or cousin who stutters. Their questions were thoughtful.

One girl came up to me after class and told me that she has a brother who stutters and she was very glad I had come in to talk to their class. She gave me a hug.

Another girl came up to me in a different class and gave me the below note. It brought tears to my eyes. I definitely believe I made the right decision to talk about stuttering that day. Any time you can go and talk to kids about stuttering, differences, tolerance and respect, do it. It makes a difference.

letter

 

 

 

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5 Responses to "From A Kid’s Perspective"

[…] Pamela Mertz at Make Room for the Stuttering visited ninth graders to talk about stuttering and her career […]

Hi Pam, great article and glad to hear that the kids received it so well. I wanted to let you know that I’ve started blogging about my stutter over at helloistutter.com and linked to this in a weekly link roundup. I’m looking forward to going through your huge archive and being inspired!

Hi Rehan, thanks for commenting. Good luck with your blog. I’ve been blogging now for over 5 years – seems amazing that there is still always something to write about. Please do dig into my archive and let me know what you think.
Listen to some of my podcasts as well.

Pam, I was thinking about your visit to the kids some more — I’m curious — did any of them stutter? I was just wondering because well, honestly, if someone who stuttered came to talk to our class, I don’t think I would have liked it at all. But that’s because I was trying to avoid being associated with the stutter. And I’d be afraid that the kids would say, “oh, our classmate does that!” and get all that attention.

Hi Rehan – no one told me if any of the kids stutter. It stands to reason, according to current statistics, that should be at least 2 in the group of 200 kids I spoke to. Maybe there was a couple of kids who stutter but are covert. Maybe they are known as the really quiet ones, who don’t speak up because they’re afraid to show it.
Who knows?

I would have loved it if an adult who stuttered came and talked to my class when I was in middle school. It would have helped me feel less hopeless – I thought I was the only one.

Several times in the past, when I’ve spoken at other schools, teachers have pulled me aside and let me know there is one or two children who stutter, and my presence could go either way for them. But they never told me who.

I think it’s critical for adults with differences to openly show that to kids, so they learn to celebrate their uniqueness and also to foster tolerance.

We should chat sometime!!

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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.