Make Room For The Stuttering

PamEpisode 172 features Jaymie who hails from San Diego, California. Jaymie works for the San Diego Courthouse, in the Human Resources department. She welcomes new hires into the organization and helps them make benefit decisions. She also enjoys reading and writing and is actively involved in her local NSA chapter.

Jaymie shares that she was lucky to have a very supportive supervisor in her first job. She started in Payroll and her supervisor was accepting and supportive of her stuttering. Her supervisor told Jaymie that during the interview process she knew she wanted to hire Jaymie, “stutter and all.”

Listen in as we discuss how that one powerful comment reshaped how Jaymie viewed herself and stuttering. She’s come to believe that stuttering is just another type of communication. We also discuss open stuttering, acceptance, and being friends with other people who stutter.

Jaymie shares how she first heard about the NSA after seeing then student Morgan Lott’s documentary This Is Stuttering. She has attended two national NSA conferences and presented at two workshops at just her second conference. Kudos to her!

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

 

 

 

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I am sure most people who stutter have experienced negative self talk. When we are faced with a challenging speaking situation, a little voice in our head tells us that we shouldn’t be speaking because we might stutter. Or when we do stutter, that voice reminds us that we’re stupid, inadequate or embarrassing ourselves.

I’ve definitely experienced this. Less so these days now that I’m more comfortable in my skin. I can remember hearing that voice tell me all kinds of things. Sometimes quite loudly too!

I have also heard the voice tell me positive things. I have heard my self-talk be encouraging, reminding me that my voice is worthy to be heard and congratulating me after getting through a challenging speaking situation unscathed.

What if you were hearing both negative and positive messages at the same time? Would that be confusing? Would the positive messages override the negative ones?

This weekend at the NSA’s 4th Annual Fall Gathering, we had a number of opportunities to explore our speech, play with different scenarios and see what happens when we listen to the voices in our head.

One particularly powerful exercise involved a fluent speaker who was asked to describe what she was planning to do for Halloween. She stood in the front of the room preparing to speak to the group. Two people who stutter were asked to stand on either side of her and whisper in her ear, one saying negative things and one saying positive things.

She was so flustered by hearing these different voices that she was unable to speak clearly. She gave up. It was a very good illustration of how listening to conflicting voices can impact our ability to think and speak clearly.

What do you think? Do the voices in your head affect how you speak? Do you ever find yourself giving up in a speaking situation?

 

I had an interesting comment on the paper I submitted for this year’s International Stuttering Awareness Day online conference, which is going on now through October 22. Please read my paper, 5 Ways The World Can Better Understand Stuttering.

In one section of my paper, I talk about how the media needs to do a better job in portraying people who stutter on TV and in films. I think we as people who stutter can influence more positive portrayals in the media by continuing to raise awareness and educate people at every opportunity about what stuttering is and isn’t.

Someone who commented on my paper wrote that people who suffer from stuttering can be helped by the celebrities who “used to stutter” because they are good role models for overcoming stuttering. If they can do it, so can we. I gently commented back that I disagreed with her thought that celebrity recovered stutterers can help those of us who suffer from stuttering.

This gave me pause. Do we “suffer” with stuttering? I looked up the definition of “suffer.”  Miriam-Webster offers this: “to become worse because of being badly affected by something.” We certainly can agree that most of us who stutter are badly affected by it in some way. Teasing, bullying, exclusion, workplace discrimination all are examples of what people who stutter experience. But do we become worse because of stuttering?

I’m not sure. I’ve heard many stories where people who stutter think that stuttering has made them stronger, more resilient, compassionate and empathetic. Had we not been dealt the hand of stuttering, we might not have developed the strength that many, many people who stutter have. And that’s a good thing.

So weigh in. What do you think? Do we suffer from stuttering? Are we worse off as people because we stutter?

 

 

 

I know someone who stutters who refers to himself as someone who stutters “some of the time.” He mentions this in email and Facebook posts every time he comments about something stuttering related.

He’s right, you know! All of us who stutter only stutter some of the time. We generally don’t stutter when we’re alone and talking out loud. We usually don’t stutter when talking to children or animals. And most of us don’t stutter on every single word when we stutter.

This individual often brings up the notion of the “fragmented self” that pioneer speech therapist Charles Van Riper coined. Basically this means that those who stutter see themselves as two beings – one who sometimes stutters and one who is sometimes fluent. Interestingly, I wrote about this six years ago in a post titled Self, Divided. I talked about how I often felt that I lead two separate lives – one being a covert stutterer and the other passing as fluent.

I really don’t do that anymore. Since “coming out,” I largely stutter openly and do not attempt to “pass” as normally fluent. I’ve shared before how liberating it is to not worry about being found out or exposed as a stutterer.

I wonder how you feel about this. Can you relate to the notion that we can be people who stutter some of the time? What does this mean in terms of how you see yourself?

 

PamEpisode 171 features Catherine Moroney, who hails from the Los Angeles, California area. Catherine is your friendly neighborhood rocket scientist, with masters degrees in both computer science and physics. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling a fair bit and her cats, who sometimes get mad at her.

Listen in as we talk about how she got her first job, which Catherine describes as “sheer dumb luck.”  She was lucky to find an employer who didn’t care about her stuttering who gave her lots of opportunities to show what she could do. She says she quickly became known as Catherine and not just her boss’s hired programmer.

We also discuss what a rocket scientist actually does, most of which I didn’t understand. And we talk about how stuttering is just another physical characteristic, like being tall and having silver hair. We also chat about interviewing for jobs when you stutter and the importance of disclosure.

Catherine has been involved with the stuttering community for over 20 years, having gone to her first NSA conference in Cleveland in 1994.

The musical clip used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

ISAD2017

The annual online conference for International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) is coming soon. The conference starts on October 1 and runs through October 22, the day officially designated as International Stuttering Awareness Day.

The conference is a smorgasbord of papers, videos and other multi media presentations submitted by professionals in the field of stuttering and people who stutter themselves.

You have the opportunity to read a paper or watch a video and then comment and react to the piece via a moderated discussion thread. The author of the piece will then respond back to you, with either general feedback or answers to questions you may have asked.

There is also an “Ask An Expert” section, where you can pose questions to therapists or researchers in the field and get responses very quickly.

This is a great learning experience and we have a great theme this year, “A World That Better Understands Stuttering.” And this author has a submission this year too!

Check in here on October 1 and find all kinds of stuttering goodness.

People who stutter often have difficulties knowing when to join in a conversation already going on. We’re not sure when to interject and we want to make sure that by doing so, we are not interrupting. And of course we worry about stuttering and going to say something and have nothing come out.

I recently read a Forbes article titled Nine Things That Make You Unlikeable. I really don’t like the title but the article does outline things you can do to make yourself more approachable and to better engage our interpersonal skills.

One of the sections was on how to be successful in conversations, whether we are initiating one or joining in on one. The key is to be sure to ask enough questions.

The biggest mistake people make in conversation is being so focused on what they are going to say next that they don’t focus on what is being said. Sound familiar? People who stutter do this a lot – we are rehearsing what we are going to say next and employing strategies so that we won’t stutter. Or at least we try to! But we miss out on what the person is actually saying because we fail to hear while we’re concentrating on ourselves.

A simple way to avoid this is to ask a lot of questions. People like to know you’re listening and something simple as a clarification question shows not only that you’re listening but that you also care about what the other person is saying.

The article states that you’ll be surprised by how much respect and appreciation you gain just by asking questions.

I think asking questions is a great way to join in and sustain a conversation. It gives the other person more time to talk and you can ease up and really listen to what they have to say. For stutterers, and anybody for that matter, asking questions will probably take less time and make for a more enjoyable conversation.

What do you think? Can you see how asking questions can help you become a better conversationalist?

You could also see the added benefit of being more “likeable.”

 

 

 

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. 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 2017.