Make Room For The Stuttering

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PamEpisode 193 features Hannah Dunn, who hails from San Antonio, Texas. Hannah works as a Senior Lead Supervisor at Marriott Reservations Center, which is a call center. It is so inspiring to chat with someone who stutters who intentionally works at a call center answering phones all day and likes it and is good at it.

Hannah is very interested in getting the National Stuttering Association San Antonio Chapter back up and running to a thriving level. After attending her first NSA Conference this past July in Chicago, Hannah feels empowered and confident to lead the chapter back to greatness.

Listen in as we chat about self advocacy, proving to others that “she can” when she’s been told that “she can’t” and how she doesn’t run away from things, but rather chases after them.

Hannah talks about how wonderful it was to meet in person people she had only met online. She gives shout outs to Steven Kaufman, the girls from the San Diego Chapter who had a room adjoining hers and Doug Scott, who introduced her to Rosie Brown before the conference so she had a connection and got questions answered.

It was so much fun chatting with Hannah and getting to know her. We’re going to see big things from Hannah over the years.

Music used in today’s episode is credited to Bensound.

PamEpisode 192 features 19 year old Grace McMahon who hails from Long Island, New York. Grace attends SUNY Geneseo in beautiful western New York. She is a sophomore studying psychology with the hopes of one day being a therapist or counselor.

I loved having Grace on today’s episode. I met her at my first FRIENDS conference back in 2008 when Gracie was 9 years old and it turns out that conference was Grace and her mom’s first one too. I saw Gracie grow up for the 5 years I attended FRIENDS conferences and she was a spunky, feisty 13 year old when I last saw her. I knew her as Gracie in those days.

I have followed Grace over the last few years through mom Stephanie’s updates of her superwoman daughter on Facebook. So imagine when I saw Grace herself on her video response (see below) and saw how beautiful and grown she is. It was a given that we connect so that we could catch up and Grace could share her amazing story.

Listen in as we talk about Grace’s simple message about stuttering that she hopes to share with the world, what she has learned about self-advocacy and how much happier you can be when you let go of what you hate and just accept it as a part of you that makes you “you.” Grace also comments on the notion that we have to “stop stuttering” in order to be liked, as conveyed in part in the “Steve Harvey” video below and Grace’s response video.

The whole time I was chatting with Grace I had this big grin on my face and could feel my heart swelling with so much pride, that I know her, and for what she’s doing to lead change in the stuttering community. This one will move mountains, you just wait and see.

Music used in today’s episode is credited to Bensound.

 

I love this video that Vikesh from Australia created with the many faces and voices of people from all around the world just simply saying “I have a stutter.”

This wraps us the three week long celebration of ISAD 2018.

Sometimes, short and simple is more than enough.

PamEpisode 191 features Mara Ormond, who hails from eastern  Maryland, where she, her husband and 5 year old daughter Lula have been for about a year. Mara has moved around a lot, but identifies DC as “where she’s from.” Mara is a leadership coach, helping people with workplace and life issues. She’s also an avid swimmer.

In this episode, we focus on the many new situations in Mara’s life and how she has to stay on top of making room for stuttering in her life.

We explore how harmful hiding stuttering can be to one’s self image and psyche, and even physical health, as Mara notes. We also talk about how spending so much time hiding hinders development on all counts – career, emotional and social.

When you don’t go through regular adolescent and young adult experiences, like active socializing and making friends, because of fear of stuttering, you miss out on becoming self actualized. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’ve missed those opportunities until well into adulthood.

And we spend time dissecting shame – probably one of the core issues with stuttering.  Mara shares an important “aha” moment – when she realized that “everyone feels shame.”

Listen in a to great conversation that once again dives deep into how complex stuttering really is. It was wonderful getting to know Mara better through this conversation.

Music used in today’s episode is credited to Bensound.

Hey everyone! Check out this year’s International Stuttering Association 3 week online conference.  The theme this year is “Speak Your Mind” and my, oh, my, there is speaking of the minds going on over there.

There are 37 wonderful contributions from people who stutter and professionals in the field from all over the world. There are some really interesting points being made. There is also a section where you can ask specific questions of professionals who have volunteered to be on a “panel” for the 3 weeks. Good stuff, I promise!

I have a contribution this year. I’ve love to hear your thoughts on this.

 

He-StuttersEpisode 25 of this occasional male series features Rob Dellinger who hails from Raleigh, North Carolina. He is a school-based SLP who stutters who also serves as a consultant for peers who work with students who stutter.

This episode is a little longer in length than I usually like to go but it is important, compelling and current. We both share a little bit about our stories of trying to hide our stuttering and how stuttering dictated our career choices.

We focus very much on how to go about helping kids who stutter, or have any diagnosed mental health issue, like anxiety, learn healthy strategies to develop successful communication skills, stuttering and all in some cases. We talk about not perpetuating avoidance when kids “opt out” of public speaking in school or college.

We emphasize the importance of having compassion and meeting kids “where they’re at.” Pushing kids who may not be ready to be pushed may actually “tip the scales” in favor of a kid who stutters choosing silence (like I did) or a kid with anxiety being caused needless harm.

There are ways to hierarchically help kids start with small challenges and then move up to bigger challenges as they are ready. Rob mentions how he does this in therapy with kids who stutter. This helps the kid feel like the adult/teacher/SLP cares about them and helps them develop crucial communication skills that we all need for college and careers.

We reference the article Teens Are Protesting In-Class Presentations. Take a few minutes to read the article. It’s not long and it is really important.

This was an amazing conversation. Both of us would love your feedback.

The music clip used in this episode is credited to Bensound.

 

I am so proud and excited to share that I gave a 90 minute presentation on Monday at the annual national conference of The Indian Stammering Association.

The session was presented remotely of course, but I felt like I was there as we did it through Google Hangouts live and I was able to see and hear everyone, and of course they could see and hear me as well. I did a couple of interactive activities, which members of the audience participated in and there was lots of audience sharing and feedback.

What a great experience for me. It was an honor to be asked to help be part of such an empowering process. I didn’t even mind that I got up at 4:30 for the 5am start time.

If you’re interested, here’s the whole thing, complete with the “muskmelon” activity and questions and sharing from people who stammer in India.

 

PamEpisode 190 features Saundra Smith, who is originally from Chicago, Illinois but currently lives and works in the suburb of Joliet, IL. Saundra is a wife and mother and an elementary school principal.

Saundra had teachers who told her when she was 5 years old that she was amazing and wonderful and could do anything she ever wanted and she believed them. That set her course for a wonderful career in education, where she is currently in educational leadership.

Saundra went to her very first National Stuttering Association conference in Chicago in July 2018. She was only able to stay for one day. But as she tells us in this heartfelt conversation, she was profoundly affected by what she learned and discovered about herself. A particular “aha” moment at the Women’s Empowerment workshop really made a big difference for her.

Listen in as Saundra talks about how much she has done to finally release her true authentic self in just over two short months.

The music used in today’s episode is credited to Bensound.

 

I wanted to take a moment to share an experience that I vividly remember and that may have shaped me into my lifelong, hard to shake, covert stuttering behaviors.

I posted a recent article on my Facebook wall, with facts and statistics and anecdotes about students advocating to “opt out” of required oral presentations in school when they have a diagnosed disability, to which they are legally required to receive  alternate assessments  or reasonable accommodations.

Here’s the article if you’e interested – Teens Are Protesting In Class Presentations.

Here is my video excerpt self-explained.

 

warrior not worrierIt’s that time of year again and I find myself making tons of presentations to high school kids. Right at the beginning of the year, I start off with presentations on sexual harassment prevention to every student in our building, plus four remote sites.

So, I am doing about four 40 minute presentations a day that cover what sexual harassment is and isn’t and also discuss and explain tolerance and respect of differences to ensure we have a school environment free of bullying and discrimination.

It’s a lot to cover and not particularly easy topics to discuss with high school age kids. Talking about anything sexual gets major giggles going and red faces, but for the most part, they go well. It’s amazing – when I feel confident and on top of things, the talks go exquisitely. Everything just flows, I get the kids involved by asking questions and it generally becomes conversational, instead of me standing in front and “lecturing at them,” which I hate and I am sure the kids do even more.

I had an interesting conversation with my friend Annie about this just the other day. I confided in her that I always find this time of year, and these presentations, really stressful. They shouldn’t be at all – I am so good at these now after years of doing them that I can just talk and don’t really even need notes or cues.

But I always worry about what will happen when I stutter and someone notices and laughs. Annie wanted to know why I just didn’t relieve myself of that stress by simply starting off each presentation with a quick “disclaimer” that I stutter and get it out there. I’ve talked about this here before over the years. I never know if I should really do that because I’m afraid of drawing attention to me and away from the topic at hand. I’m not there to talk to the kids about stuttering and I always worry (quite obsessively) about how that will go over.

So I usually don’t disclose or advertise that I stutter at the beginning of my talks. I “hope” that I’ll be largely fluent and that it won’t come up and I won’t have to deal with it. Not the best plan, because then I need to be prepared for addressing reactions when I do have a big juicy block or long repetition in the middle of a sentence. When that happens, I figure I’ll deal with it then.

I would never take this approach with adults. I am totally comfortable letting adults know at the onset of a presentation that I stutter and that I’m OK with it and hope they will be too. But there’s just something about the kids that makes me feel more anxious about turning this talk around and making it about me.

So far, my first four talks yesterday went well – really well, in fact. The kids were super engaged, interacted, asked lots of questions and we had a good conversation in all four classes about current events, like the #MeToo movement.

Maybe I just worry too much.

He-StuttersEpisode 24 of this occasional male series features David Alpuche, who originally hails from Mexico City, but presently makes his home in Dallas, Texas. David is a self-employed photographer and also created a company where he sells photography inspired yoga mats.

David shares that someone like him with a stutter and who is really creative would do better here in the US than in Mexico and he has found that to be true. He shares that years of experience and good therapy helped him grow into the person he wanted to be.

David got into the creative arts because of stuttering itself – he found drawing and photography a way to “say things without having to say things.”

We talk about the importance of community and how growing up, like so many of us, he felt he was the only one who stutters. When he found the NSA and went to his first conference, he was “blown away.” And now he attends the oldest NSA Chapter in the US, Dallas, which is 36 years old.

David realized that the thing that isolated him all his life was actually the secret key to a world wide community of really cool and interesting people.

The music used in today’s show is credited to Bensound.

 

I had the amazing opportunity on Saturday to attend a performance of “Kirtan,” an ancient storytelling vehicle from Sanskrit India. My friend Maddy, who stutters too, is in a band called The Turn-Ups and it’s been a dream of hers to perform this live for audiences.

She invited me to come along to only her second performance and I’ll admit, at first I was skeptical. I am not spiritual and was not sure I’d like this. But I have been trying lately to be much more open to new experiences as I think we all should be.

Well, I was stunned and mesmerized and awestruck by the beauty of what unfolded before my eyes and ears. I had looked up “Kirtan” so I’d have a basic understanding of what I would see. Boy, was I unprepared. It was simply a visual and audio feast.

What I saw was beauty, purity of voice, passion and full on spiritual expression. It really is true: you don’t stutter when you sing and Maddy was brilliant when she sang for the transfixed audience. She is beautiful in her attention to detail and humility. She needs to do this again and again and help audiences see how gifted she is and that we all should look beyond a stutter and see and hear the gift of a golden voice.

Here are two quick snippets from my day on Saturday September 1. Maddy and her band played to an enthusiastic crowd that cheered her on and didn’t care when it ran over the allotted time.

 

After the performance, a group of us went to dinner and shared the pleasure of the evening. These were Maddy’s friends and I felt welcomed and embraced into their circle.

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PamEpisode 189 features Sigriour Thorlacius, or Sigga, who hails from Reykjavik, Iceland. Sigga is in her second season of being Chair of the Icelandic Stuttering Association and is only the second female to have this role since the beginning of the association in 1991.

Sigga is also a student and is particularly interested in public education and how we are raising our citizens. She has decided to focus in on Adult Education, as adults who return to school at non-traditional ages face stigma and pressures that are very parallel to that which people who stutter face.

This conversation was one of those where we had no clue we would wind up doing such a deep dive. We talked about self advocacy, unintentional authenticity, reacting to other people’s reactions to our speech and the energy drain we who stutter face when we are constantly thinking and listening to our inner head chatter.

We also talked about listening and how people who stutter actually get people who don’t stutter to listen closely to what we have to say.

Sigga also spoke about her experience at the recent Joint Congress in Japan and what participants have in store for the ISA World Congress being held in Iceland in 2019.

The music used in today’s episode is credited to BenSound.

 

 

In a recent Stutter Social hangout that I hosted, the group of five women and two men happened to have a very powerful conversation that turned into a really moving moment for me.

I decided to talk about that in a quick video because I honestly couldn’t find the right words to write. At the end of this hangout, it was crystal clear how important these connections really are.

I found myself crying during the hangout which I never do or have done and I noticed that several of the other women in the room were equally as moved. So I hope I explain it well here.

 

 

 

PamEpisode 188 features Sarah Albannay, who hails from Kuwait, but is presently living in Pocatello, Idaho while attending college. Sarah has been in the USA for four years now, and is studying Political Science. She says she’ll know what to do with her degree when she’s done.

We had a really interesting conversation. Sarah finds it so much easier to stutter here in the USA. Americans are so much more open about personal issues than she finds people to be at home in Kuwait. She feels quite comfortable advertising that she stutters with classmates and professors here. Sarah says she was a totally different person in Kuwait. (You’ll have to listen to hear her explain that!)

Sarah feels there is so much support here in the USA. She’s found the NSA and good stuttering therapy which has included participation in “intensive stuttering programs.”  Sarah wanted to be sure she gave a shout out to Dan Hudock, the professor at Idaho State University that has really helped her see stuttering differently.

See below for a one minute look at what Professor Hudock is doing at ISU. I also included a fantastic Tedx Talk that Dan did about stuttering. Couldn’t resist – had to include it.

 

 

The music used in todays episode is credited as always to ccMixter.

 

 

 

 


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