Make Room For The Stuttering

PamEpisode 176 features Lisa Wilder, who hails from Toronto, Canada. Lisa has been involved with the Canadian Stuttering Association for about 11 years. She prefers behind the scenes work and thus enjoys serving as the webmaster for the CSA.

Listen in as we discuss the goals and vision of the Canadian Stuttering Association, it’s annual conference held in October and how the CSA is essentially a labor of love for those involved.

We also discuss speech therapy, keeping up on research and new ideas in the field of therapy, and how change in attitude and mindset is often more of a game changer than actually focusing on speech strategies.

We also talk about the importance of not caring so much about what other people may think about your speech and looking at options if you think stuttering is holding you back.

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

 

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Jill's class

Recently, I had another opportunity to speak to a master’s level fluency class about my experiences with stuttering. Good friend Jill had asked me to guest lecture to the class and cover the piece on covert stuttering.

I always enjoy doing this. I know many other persons who stutter are invited and take the opportunity to share our stories with the people who will be working with us in the future. It’s critical that future therapists understand stuttering from the perspective of someone who has stuttered all their life. You can’t fully understand the stuttering experience just by reading about it.

I found myself talking to the students just briefly about my journey with stuttering, and how essentially I overcame the fears of stuttering to transition from covert to overt. I spent more time talking about lessons I had learned when I was in therapy as an adult and what I thought are the most important things for SLP students to focus on when working with people who stutter covertly.

I talked about being sure that the therapist is treating the right thing. When I was in therapy, I did not want to learn about techniques that would hide my stutter and make me sound more  fluent. I needed to stutter, after hiding it for so many years. Understanding what the client needs and wants is crucial for successful therapy. Not everyone is looking for fluency. Many people who stutter want to work on acceptance and have someone affirm for them that stuttering is indeed OK.

I think tomorrow’s therapists really need to wrap their head around that today.

 

PamEpisode 175 features return guest Rachel Hoge, who hails from Springfield, Tennessee. Rachel was a guest here in 2011, when she was 19 and in college for her undergraduate degree. She returns now, at 26, with her Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing. You can check out her first podcast, Untamed Tongue.

Rachel now has a full-time job as a Production Book Editor and she writes freelance on the side. Her eventual goal is to write a book on the intersection of stuttering and gender. In this episode, we discuss the perspectives of women who stutter in the context of several beautiful essays that Rachel published recently.

Listen in as we discuss how her articles on stuttering helped her transition into a new workplace, as her articles were shared with her team. She didn’t really need to “come out” at work as the team already knew her thoughts on her stuttering. We also discuss how Rachel gets her ideas for her pieces and how she pitches them to editors.

We talk about self-expression and embracing self as a woman who stutters through the lens of her piece, Lipstick Highlights My Stutter, But I’ll Never Stop Wearing It.

And we talk about how our perspective as women who stutter has value, even though society may not recognize that yet. Rachel shares that most women who stutter are warriors, initially misunderstood and overlooked, but now forces to be reckoned with. See her provocative piece on silencing women, What Do You Call a Woman With A Speech Disability? Invisible.

We also discuss the National Stuttering Association and the importance of community.

I absolutely loved this conversation with Rachel, as we delved into the very soul and purpose of this podcast. I am delighted to see how Rachel is gaining visibility through her writing and thus shines a light on women’s issues as we manage stuttering in a fluent world.

Music used in today’s show owes to ccMixter.

PamEpisode 174 features Tiffani Kittilstved who hails from Seattle, Washington. Tiffani just completed her clinical fellowship year to become officially licensed as a SLP. She works in private practice and has a caseload that includes about 20 kids who stutter. Tiffani is also actively involved in the stuttering community.

Tiffani leads a family chapter of the National Stuttering Association in Seattle and is also involved with FRIENDS. She is organizing a one-day FRIENDS conference to be held in April, also in Seattle.

Listen in as we talk about the journey Tiffani has had to become a SLP. She had a rocky road in college, first starting out as pre-med and then realizing that she didn’t really like it. Tiffani realized she liked neuroscience and wanted to do something that involved stuttering. She switched majors to SLP and after her first class, the chair of the department told her she should quit, because parents would never want to work with her because of her stuttering.

She tells her story of deciding to pursue graduate school for SLP and doing a lot of research on “stuttering friendly universities.” They are out there!

And we talk about covert stuttering, offering hope and empowerment to parents of kids who stutter, and the importance of counseling in good therapy. Fun fact about Tiffani – she has a twin brother and they both stuttered, but he recovered.

This was such a fun conversation with a very inspiring young woman who stutters. I am looking forward to meeting Tiffani in person in July at the annual NSA conference.

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

I came across a post in one of the stuttering forums written by a young man who shared that his assistant manager at work has been blatantly mocking his stuttering. This has occurred in front of other co-workers and sometimes in front of customers as well.

The young man wrote that he’s talked to the owner in an attempt to get some assistance. He feels the owner can only do so much as the assistant manager doesn’t do the mocking in front of the owner.

He is considering contacting someone at the corporate level to ask for help in getting the harassment to stop. He worries that may be “too much” and asks if there is anything else that could be done.

I feel for this person. It is utterly disrespectful to be mocked at work by a manager. I remember when this happened to me, many years ago, before I was fired from my job because of stuttering. My director would laugh, slap his face and roll his eyes when I stuttered during meetings. He had no problem doing this in front of others. I felt embarrassed and ashamed and helpless to stop him, as he, after all, was a director and an authority figure. He was also a big guy and I honestly always felt intimidated by him.

I didn’t do anything when he harassed me. I just sucked it up and wound up feeling like crap and let negative self-talk take up space in my head. When I left meetings after such ridicule and disrespect, I would go to a bathroom and cry and then compose myself.

Now, years later, after finding support and empowerment through support organizations such as the National Stuttering Association, I have learned to advocate and stand up for myself. I would feel OK to let an offender know that it is unacceptable workplace behavior and I would attempt to educate about stuttering. I would also not hesitate to involve Human Resource staff so that they too could take steps to eliminate a hostile work environment.

Not everyone is in that place to stand up and confront harassment. You really have to have reached a place of acceptance and self-actualization in your journey in order to advocate for yourself.

So, what would you do? How would you handle this if it was you? What advice might you offer someone facing this type of behavior at work?

I’d love your thoughts.

 

PamEpisode 173 is a departure from the usual format of this podcast. I am excited to bring you a wonderful conversation with four individuals who are helping to organize the first ever Joint World Congress for stuttering and cluttering. This inaugural conference will be held this summer from July 13-16, 2018 in Hiroshima, Japan. It’s a “must attend” event.

Today’s episode features Annie Bradberry, who stutters and is the Chair of the International Stuttering Association  (ISA.) Joining her is Kirsten Howells, representing the International Fluency Association (IFA.) Kirsten, a British trained SLP, also stutters and represents the covert stuttering community. We have Susie Cook, a SLP, who is the Chair elect of the International Cluttering Association (ICA.) And last but not least, we have  “honorary” woman Charley Adams, who is a SLP and current chair of the ICA.

These heavy weights in the fluency disorder community come together to share some of the highlights of the upcoming Joint World Congress and they, along with Japanese associations, have all collaborated to ensure this event has something for everyone.

Listen in as we chat about the visions of the three different organizations, which strive to improve the quality of life of the people they serve. We talk about how the vision for this sprung from David Shapiro’s work to bring the organizations together, with the idea that together, they are strong. We talk about what each individual, as an attendee of the conference, is most looking forward to about going to Japan.

For good measure, we also discuss disk golfing, revolutionary war re-enactments, polar explorations and a stellar bungee jump opportunity.

This is a “don’t miss” episode if you are thinking about, or planning to attend this first of it’s kind opportunity in Japan this summer. You’ll find everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable adventure. Please feel free to leave feedback or questions. We’d love to hear from you.

 

I am one of the administrators of the Facebook group “Stuttering Community.” There are over 8000 members from all over the world. People use the group for various reasons. Most people come for support. Many are looking for information about stuttering and just as many are looking for quick fixes.

As an administrator, I occasionally see posts that are inappropriate and need to be removed. But largely, the group goes uncensored and people are free to post what they want. We do have basic ground rules that all people are expected to read and follow. They’re pretty common – no talk of politics, religion or sex. Those are pretty much the big three that we ask people to refrain from. It’s a virtual stuttering support group and we try to keep things relevant to stuttering.

We get people who share success stories and frustrations. People then post words of encouragement and share their own stories. We’ve had people post videos as well, which really is a testament to how supported people feel in the group.

One of the trends has always been that people ask all kinds of questions about stuttering causes, treatment, management, support and cures. It’s always interesting to see how many people are really misinformed about stuttering. People come into the group with very little prior factual knowledge and appear to not be doing any research from the many reputable online resources out there.

Utilize those resources. There’s the National Stuttering Association, the Stuttering Foundation, the International Stuttering Association and the British Stammering Association, to name a few. It’s really important to not trust all of the information that you get from people in a Facebook group. People are often perpetuating myths that have long been debunked. There’s a lot of research available to show that stuttering has a neurological and genetic base and that it’s not simply a bad habit that we can break like biting our fingernails.

Social media is here to stay and it’s wonderful that people are finding support in these virtual stuttering communities. But don’t trust everything you read on the internet. People have good intentions but often are misinformed.

 

 

 

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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.
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