Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘bullying and stuttering


PamEpisode 119 features Heather Cazares, who hails from Edinburgh, Texas. Heather is studying to be a speech language pathologist at The University of Texas – Pan American. Heather is also mom to a three year old daughter.

Heather is a NSA Chapter leader for a new chapter she founded just last August. Heather was looking for ways to advertise her new chapter and sought out an opportunity to be interviewed on TV.

Listen in as we talk about Heather’s experiences with leading a new support group. We also talk about the importance of self-advocacy.

Heather also shares that stuttering runs in her family, on both sides. I ask Heather if she worries about her own child stuttering.

This was a great conversation with a strong young woman who is making a difference in her community. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions in the comment section, for feedback is a gift.

The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to DanoSongs.

Many of us in the stuttering community were happy to see stuttering realistically portrayed on the television show “What Would You Do?”  On the April 6, 2012 show, there was a segment about a teenage girl who stutters trying to simply order in a local ice cream shop.

Actors were hired to make fun of her, mimic and bully her while she was speaking. The premise was to see if ordinary, unsuspecting people would stand up and confront the bullies. You can see what happened here.

This was one of the most realistic portrayals of stuttering in the media I have ever seen. Why? Because the young girl actually stutters. She wasn’t acting. And the bullying she faced, along with rude remarks and general impatience, are faced by people who stutter every day.

It was refreshing to see ordinary people come to her defense, and confronting the people bullying the person who stutters.

My question today: how many friends of yours came up to you and said they saw the show and thought of you? Does that happen?

I had at least 5 people mention to me they had seen the show, and asked if I had. They said they thought of me while watching it.

Is it because I stutter that people I know automatically think of me when they see this stuff? Apparently yes!

At work yesterday, one woman said she thought of me when watching it Friday night. She asked if I  had seen it and had something like that (bullying) ever happened to me. Two other women said they had missed it. So we put on the video and all watched it together.

I asked them, lightheartedly, “do you guys always think of me when you see or hear something about stuttering?” They said, “YES.” I said, “Why?’ They said, “because you are so open about it.”

They then asked me if anything like that had ever happened to me. I shared the time a few years ago when a deli clerk made fun of me when I couldn’t say “ch-ch-ch-cheese.” The guy went on to say if I couldn’t say cheese, I’d have to take chicken wings.

My friends  were shocked and asked me how I had reacted. I said I felt humiliated and didn’t do anything – left as quickly as I could and was in tears by the time I left the store. They said I should have called the manager and complained. It’s easier said than done. This happened with 3 people standing in line behind me. No one said anything or came to my defense.

Anyway, does this ever happen to you? Friends see or read something about stuttering and they mention it to you? Or cut the article out of a magazine and give it to you? 🙂

Episode 7 of the conversations with men who stutter features Jon Symons, who currently lives in Chaniá, (the island of Crete) Greece.  Jon is originally from The UK and worked in the oil drilling industry for over 30 years. His work in oil took him all over the world.

Jon recently inspired me to write a post called “Be Memorable!” Jon points out that stuttering makes us memorable, and that’s a good thing, especially in business. Any time we can be remembered, we can use that to our advantage.

We talk about the pros and cons of stuttering, and how we as stutterers need to be our best advocates.

Listen is as we chat about lessons learned, being fired, advocacy, differences and being bullied for being English! Yep, poor Jon was bullied not for stuttering, but for being a Brit!

We also discuss how our stuttering, and dealing with it, get easier with age. Take heed, young ones!

This was a great conversation filled with candor, wit and lots of laughter. It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn from other peoples’ stories.

Please leave comments for us here, or just let Jon know how much you enjoyed his honesty. Especially about who wears the pants in the family!

Music for this episode is credited to ccMixter.

I was a little reluctant to post this information here, but some friends encouraged me to do so. Last Monday, April 4, I was honored at an awards ceremony for the Jefferson Awards. These awards were begun in 1973 in the United States by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft Jr. and Sam Beard.

The Jefferson Awards annually celebrate America’s commitment to public service. Recognizing both the famous and the unknown, individuals and organizations, the young and old, the awards reflect one of the founding ideals of our nation, that of contributing toward the larger good.

In our local area, the focus is on ordinary, non-famous people doing extraordinary things. My sister Kimberly nominated me for work I have done to raise awareness and tolerance of stuttering. She submitted an essay about my visiting schools to talk about bullying prevention, advocating in the media by having articles published and appearances on radio and television, and the podcast I started last year giving women who stutter a space to share their stories.

Of hundreds of nominations, 18 of us were chosen as finalists. I was then notified that I was chosen as one of 7 Jefferson Award Medalists. One of the Medalists was chosen to attend a ceremony in Washington DC in June to represent the Capital Region of NY. That person is a man whose son committed suicide at the age of 18, and his efforts since to raise awareness to schools, teens and parents. I was honored and touched to be part of this elite group of 7. The others were working to improve and raise money for important social causes.

I was chosen as part of that field for bringing a local voice and face to stuttering, and for giving women all over the world an opportunity to share their stories. Thank you to all of the women who have so beautifully and courageously shared your stories. Together, we have showed the world that we do have stories that need to be heard.

Thank you also to my sister for having the courage to nominate me for recognition for something that was always a taboo topic in our family. And thank you to my friends and family who attended the ceremony and cheered me on and made me feel so special.

Thank you to Claudia for immediately forwarding the details to the National Stuttering Association. They have posted this information on their page as well, which made me proud.

And thanks to my friends and listeners who encouraged me to post this here on my main page. They reminded me doing so is not bragging, rather it is inspiring. And the best way for regular readers/listeners to know that this special honor even occurred.

Episode 50  features Jenny who hails from Santa Clarita, California. Jenny and her husband are the proud parents of two boys, Matthew and Nathan, with a third boy arriving in July. Congratulations to all!

Congratulations also to “Women Who Stutter: Our Stories”, for this milestone 50th episode. I am proud to be part of this magical telling of stories that have just been waiting to be heard.

Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, Jenny was pursuing her doctorate in higher education at UCLA. She was researching what impact choosing two year community colleges before transferring into four year schools might have on the typical college student.

Jenny jokes that she had vowed that she would not be one of those women who did not complete her educational goals because of pregnancy, but so far, parenting has kept her busy enough to not finish the PhD yet!

Listen in as we talk about acceptance, guilt and shame, and what it has been like for Jenny’s son Matthew, who is 9 years old and also stutters.

Matthew was having a hard time with bullying and teasing by peers, which ultimately helped Jenny begin to resolve her own acceptance issues with being a woman who stutters.

Jenny found a great speech therapist for Matthew, who has also met two other kids his age who stutter. Jenny herself has recently begun attending the NSA chapter in San Fernando Valley and hopes to attend her first NSA conference herself in 2012.

Credit for the podcast safe music clip used in this episode goes to DanoSongs.

As always, feel free to leave feedback for either Jenny or me. We’d love to hear your thoughts on being a woman who stutters who also has a child who stutters.


Two friends and I did a workshop on stuttering a couple of days ago at our community library. We submitted the proposal in early January to conduct a workshop in February, timing it about a month after the movie “The King’s Speech” opened here in my area.

We have done these before over the last few years and have had good turn-outs. In fact, from prior workshops, we have been asked to speak to practicing and student SLPs. Seems the speech community is always wanting more information on stuttering.

This time, Steve and I planned a 75 minute workshop that would give participants an opportunity to ask questions and share their thoughts about the movie. We also planned to provide accurate information and resource links. We met only twice before presenting. We advertised it quite heavily, through social media, our local newspaper, and the local speech and hearing association. At the last-minute, another friend offered to help and we gladly let him deliver a third of the material.

We had a great turnout, between 40 and 50 people. We asked people to provide their name and email if they wanted a copy of our Powerpoint presentation, which many did. A friend recorded snippets of our talk and I was able to put together a video summary of what we discussed.

What I want to share here is the mix of people who were in the audience, why they were there, and some of the comments we heard that night. We went over time by more than 30 minutes. People stayed behind to ask questions, comment, and thank us. No one left early! The library guy finally cued us that we had to get out, so he could lock up and go home.

I walked around before we started and introduced myself to people and asked what brought them to the workshop. There were 6 people there who stutter, who we had never seen at any of the local support avenues in town. They all mentioned in some way that the movie, and a local talk about it, seemed a safe place to come to learn and share.

One couple was there because their 7-year-old son stutters severely and is teased and bullied on the bus. They wanted to learn as much as they could. Thier son’s SLP had recommended they come. There were 3 SLPs in the audience, and two SLP students. One came with her mom, who recognized my name and wanted to know if I was the same person she had gone to high school with. I was!

One woman was there because she has a new staff member who stutters severely and she wants to make sure “she does right by him.” She said it seems no one else was willing to give him a chance.

These are some of the comments people made during our presentation or afterwards.

** A 68-year-old woman told us she had never dated, never married, and didn’t do what she really wanted to in college because of her stuttering. She commented to the father of the 7-year-old, “I wish you had been my father when I was a little girl”.

**A man originally from the Ukraine thought the movie and talking openly about stuttering was so important because “back in my day, we were told there was nothing that could be done.”

**A woman mentioned that she and her family had never, ever talked about stuttering. She shared “just this movie’s very presence has opened the door for conversation. My sister called me and said she had seen the movie. She wanted to make sure I had.”

**A co-worker of mine came with her mother. She shared that when she and her husband had seen the movie, her husband had commented “oh, I see it’s an emotional problem.” She shared that she corrected him, and had been able to do that because she works with someone (me) that stutters. She added that she felt community discussions like this were important to be sure people didn’t walk away with the wrong impressions.

**A woman came up to me afterwards to let me know she knew me. She said when I mentioned I had been fired several years ago, she knew about it. Her niece had told her all about how terrible it had been when they let me go, and that most people knew it had been because of my stuttering.

By the end of the workshop, both parents were emotional, mom especially. She never said a word – she didn’t have to. We were so glad these parents came. I have emailed them already, sent the presentation, and offered to come to their son’s school to talk about stuttering, teasing and bullying, if and when they think that might help. I told them it would have made a HUGE difference in my life if I had met another person, especially an adult who stutters, when I was a kid.

We made a difference Thursday night. Below is a 15 minute summary of some of the topics we covered in our talk. I am not a professional editor. The clip is not perfect. My voice sounds like I sucked on a helium balloon. But you will get the point.

A new friend to the stuttering community has self-published her very first book. Karen Hollett has written Hooray For Aiden, a story book for children ages 4-9.

It is a touching story of self-discovery as young Aiden moves to a new town and worries about how her second-grade classmates will react to her stuttering.

At first, Aiden tries to hide her stutter from her classmates, which makes her sad. She has a caring teacher who helps her learn that it is OK to stutter and OK to be herself.

Karen is a person who stutters herself and knows first hand how challenging it can be for a young person in school dealing with any kind of difference. Karen sought advice and guidance from members of the stuttering community to make sure the book would help children, and parents and everyone else, get the message that stuttering doesn’t have to hold you back.

Hooray For Aiden has received positive reviews from professionals in the stuttering community and is sure to be a wonderful resource for kids who stutter. See some of the reviews here!

I am looking forward to hearing more about Karen’s journey with her stuttering. She will join me on an upcoming episode of the podcast “Women Who Stutter: Our Stories” . She will, of course, tell her story.

For more information about Karen and to buy the book, visit Hooray Publishing. Looks like Karen’s on to something.

Congratulations, Karen!

This will be short and sweet today. This video speaks for itself.

I have been asked to co-facilitate a 6-hour professional development training on Bullying for teachers and other school staff. We will be doing it in three parts, focusing on bullying in schools and the effects on children, bullying in the workplace and its effects on adults, and how to stand up for yourself and keep from being bullied. We will offer it at the start of the new school year. Of course, I am honored to have been asked to co-present this. I will share my stuttering story as a personal example of how “names” can hurt more than “sticks and stones.”

We have begun to pull together some resources and I came across this video. We will share this with folks. It is really powerful. We all know that kids who stutter, and adults, get teased and bullied. This short video clip drives home what can happen if we ignore bullying. We can’t ignore it.

Please, lets do our part. Let’s be sure to educate everyone about stuttering, teasing and bullying. Enough is enough. Stand Up To Bullies.     We Can Make A Difference.

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2022. 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 2022.
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