Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘International Stuttering Awareness Day

I wrote this paper for this year’s International Stuttering Awareness Day online conference.

I’d love your thoughts and feedback.

“She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” (Elizabeth Edwards)

I love this quote above. It gets to the very core of resilience. For a long time, I allowed stuttering, which I perceived as a flaw, to hold me down and prevent me from living my best life. I did not think it was possible for a stutterer to live a life of meaning and purpose. I was so smothered in shame that I never even considered that I could do something about shame, that I could get up when knocked down.

I was knocked down a lot due to stuttering. I remember times I was laughed at, mocked, dismissed, and excluded. I remember how I reacted when these things happened. I cried and ran away, careful to not let others see how much it affected me. 

Stuttering began taking control of me in many ways that I was not consciously aware of. I did not raise my hand, volunteer to speak or even allow myself to be out front. I always hid in a corner, sat at the back of class, and avoided eye contact so that I would not be called on to speak. I had convinced myself that when I spoke, people would laugh and not take me seriously. It took me a long time to realize that I was the one leading the shame parade.

I have shared my story of hiding my stuttering many times. I have written articles for past online conferences such as this, I have made videos, I host a podcast about stuttering, and I have blogged about stuttering for more than 10 years. But it took me a long time to get to this point where I now willingly share my story and stutter openly.

I had a pivotal event in my life that paved the way for me to stop automatically equating stuttering with something bad, or believing that I was bad, flawed, or imperfect. Prior to this event, I did not know what resilience was.

I was fired from a long-held job because of stuttering in 2006. As you can imagine, that rocked my world. It was such a blow to my identity and self-esteem, for I had carefully constructed myself as someone who did not stutter, even though I do. I had successfully hidden my stuttering for so long that not many people in my world knew that I stuttered. 

In the process of crafting this “self who did not stutter,” I had unwittingly compromised my real self and tried to pretend that I was OK with being perceived as nervous, shy, quiet and a wallflower. I had created a “Fake Pam,” which I let the world see but I was totally unhappy with. 

Getting fired for stuttering was the beginning of shedding “Fake Pam” and letting “Real Pam” out. The whole process of reconciling the two vastly different versions of myself was the very definition of resilience. I just did not realize it in 2006. It took me a few years to say goodbye to “Fake Pam” and to welcome “Real Pam” to her forever home. 

Once “Real Pam” was out, there was no stopping me. Not only did I shed the fake persona, I also became real in other parts of my life. I learned that while hiding stuttering, I had also been hiding any open expression of emotions, which had suffocated me. If you have ever read the book “The Velveteen Rabbit,” you know that the stuffed rabbit became a real rabbit, which was very much like my own transformation.

Being resilient means facing pain, and choosing to walk through it, instead of around it or choosing to go down a different street. As I became real, I began to recognize powerful moments of resilience in my life. 

After getting fired, I had to go on interviews again to find a new job. I faced the fear of being judged because of stuttering by choosing to openly disclose that I stutter during interviews, for the first time ever. I quieted the inner chatter in my head that said I was not being hired because of stuttering but rather it could very well have been true that I just was not the right fit.

When I did get a job, I openly shared with supervisors and coworkers that I stutter and was still liked and accepted. I learned that I had worried about stuttering far more than anyone else did. Being real and true to myself was such a new and triumphant feeling. I wanted more of that. I wanted to take chances. I wanted to start living my best life.

I joined Toastmasters, attended stuttering support groups, and even found myself hosting a virtual stuttering support group for almost six years. I found myself doing lots of public speaking and making efforts to normalize stuttering as much as possible. I was asked often to speak to college graduate classes about covert stuttering, being asked to come back year after year by the same professors. I was afraid of rejection each time, but I persevered and let “Real Pam” come out and be heard. I liked her voice, my voice, the one that I had always thought no one could ever like because it shakes and shudders and stops and blocks. But I was at a point in my life where I could say “so what?”

I have learned that I can sail in a storm and adjust the sails to another course when I must. This is no longer fear but strength. And a belief that “I can do this.”

I have always had the resilience necessary to meet life’s challenges head on. I just did not know it for such a long time. “Real Pam” did the proper thing and introduced herself to “Fake Pam,” and “Real Pam” said “Nice to meet you, but you are not needed anymore. Get out of here.” And “Real Pam” never looked back.

 

 

 

We all are probably lining up to kick 2020 to the curb as soon as we can. It’s been an awful year for everyone. Lock downs, quarantines, social distancing and wearing masks. All of it has been relentless since early March 2020 when the USA joined other countries trying to battle the Covid pandemic. Most of us alive today have never experienced such a year of grave losses, of people, employment and our basic interactions with each other.

I am a hugger and I have not been able to hug anyone for 6+ months.

Almost all of our interactions with others has been virtual, using the many options for video chats. That’s been a great way to at least talk to people.

The stuttering community has felt all these losses, some more acutely than others. I’ve heard countless stories of people who stutter experiencing difficulty when masked up and trying to speak. But we’ve stood and fiercely showed our resilience.

The stuttering community has stepped up and many of the stuttering support groups have hosted quite a few virtual sessions to help people feel connected.

This brings a nice transition into my announcement. Every year in October, a small by mighty team coordinates a 3 week online conference that runs from October 1 – October 22, which is the annual “International Stuttering Awareness Day.” This is a day that people from all over the world celebrate stuttering in their countries to raise awareness and educate communities.

I want to draw your attention to the annual online conference. It is interactive, meaning people will have the chance to interact with authors of papers, videos, poems and other media platform. This is the one a year that people come together for a global conference.

This year’s theme is “Resilience and Bouncing Back,” a theme that many people who stutter can relate to. We have around 50 submissions, submitted by PWS ourselves, SLP’s and other professionals, and family members of a person who stutters.

It’s a great theme – I was excited to find out about the theme and I enthusiastically wrote a meaningful piece that speaks to me about my journey of resilience.

The conference will go live on September 30 at noon, since it will be October 1 somewhere in the world. Check it out – you’ll be happy with the many superb contributions and you’ll so many different things about stuttering.

The online ISAD Conference begins October 1, 2020.

Episode 209 features Phyllis Edwards who hails from New Zealand. Phyllis shares that she is 66 years young and has finally felt empowered to tell her story. I “met” Phyllis through her amazing contribution on the 2019 ISAD online conference. Phyllis has a supportive husband and children and works in an early childhood center, with 2-5 year old children.

Phyllis only discovered the stammering community about 18 months ago when she searched the internet about stammering and then found herself attending two conferences in different parts of the world, the BSA conference in 2018 in Cardiff, Wales and the World Congress in Iceland this past June 2019. To say that magic has happened in Phyllis’s life is really an understatement.

Listen in to this conversation, so full of emotion, from being a bit choked up to laughing quite freely, about a topic that Phyllis never dreamed she’d be so open about. Phyllis shares how her husband and children helped to make conference attendance a reality.

Part of Phyllis’s story that we as women who stutter can probably all relate to is that we have something in us – a seed – that makes us stronger, and it takes each individual to find that exact right time to be open to and embrace that we are worthy, stammering and all.

Phyllis believes it is time to pay it forward, and talks about how it “takes a village” to own our stammering.

I am glad I am a small part of Phyllis’s village.

Even though I really think every day is our day!

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Each year, the International Stuttering Association helps to coordinate a 3 week online conference where anybody who is interested can learn more about stuttering from experts in the field, first and foremost, people who stutter.

I have been lucky enough to be part of the small team that helps coordinate the conference “behind the scenes.” I help upload content, moderate and approve comments and help advertise the conference. I actually have been a participant in this annual conference since 2008, writing papers and contributing video presentations. I find this to be one of the most significant learning experiences for anyone in the world to learn more about this complex thing called stuttering, that affects 70 million people worldwide.

This conference is unique in that anyone can comment or ask questions to the contributing authors and the authors write back, so it is interactive and informative. There is no better feeling than knowing that this experience helps people who do not stutter better understand.

This year’s theme is “Growth Through Speaking.” You can interpret that anyway you wish, and read, watch and listen to how others interpret it. The conference is “live” from October 1 -22 every year, and everything is archived for viewing at any time after the conference concludes.

Visit and learn today. And hey, you might see something on there from me again this year too.

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.

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.

 

PamEpisode 169 features Yara who hails from Orange County, Southern California. Yara teaches second grade at a Waldorf school. She kind of happened upon this job, as it was not originally in the plan. Yara has a 12 year old daughter and loves chalkboard art.

Yara says she went from being in a band to now teaching little kids, singing songs every morning.

Listen in as we discuss covert stuttering and how Yara had always worried about stuttering, with everything. She got really good at coming off as fluent. She shares that for a long time she didn’t know that everyone wasn’t struggling to sound fluent.

Yara shares about her “aha” moment, how hard it is to have the conversation when telling someone she stutters and has been hiding it, and how a massive Google search helped her find stuttering resources. We discuss the NSA and how Yara would really like to go to a conference, how that might be easier for her than a small, intimate NSA chapter meeting.

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

Stuttering_Pride5-300x160Every year, the stuttering community celebrates International Stuttering Awareness Day on October 22. It’s a day for people across the world to recognize stuttering, educate others who don’t stutter and raise awareness of an often isolating difference.

For the last 12 years, the community has further celebrated by participating in a three week online conference about stuttering, hosted by the International Stuttering Association (ISA.) The conference is held from Oct 1-Oct.22 and can be found linked to the ISA site.

This year, the theme of the conference is stuttering pride. Yes, we can take pride in the fact that we stutter, that we’re part of a huge community that empowers each other and that can take responsibility for educating others about stuttering.

The conference needs to hear from you, people who stutter, loved ones of people who stutter and people generally interested in the stuttering community. The conference is seeking submissions of papers, audio or video around the theme of stuttering pride. Specific information can be found here at the ISAD section of the ISA site.

Won’t you consider writing something about your stuttering experience? Or sharing an audio or video message? It can go a long way towards the goal of educating others and creating a world that better understands stuttering.

My friends in the French stuttering community are launching a campaign to celebrate International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD,) which is today, October 22. Their initiative is to portray children who stutter in a positive and casual manner.

The initiative was launched by the mother of a child who stutters and quickly gained momentum with other parents. The French Facebook group plans to feature the children s’ stories on French blogs today and over the next few days.

I think this is a great idea and am so pleased to help “spread the word,” which is the theme of this year’s ISAD. What could be more positive and inspiring than children talking so matter-of-fact about stuttering?

Here is Rose, age 9, and her story.

“My name is Rose. I love drawing. My preferred colour, it’s turquoise. My best friend, it’s Cecilia. My preferred dish, it’s fajitas. And I stutter. It isn’t because I lack self confidence. It is not caused by a trauma. It isn’t my parents’ fault. I just stutter – it’s neurological”.

You’re right, Rose. We just stutter. Rose is beautiful and has so many interests. Help us spread the word.

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I had the opportunity to speak on Saturday via Skype at the Irish Stammering Association’s annual National Stammering Awareness Day event in Dublin, Ireland. I was asked to be a keynote speaker during their full day conference style event and speak on the theme of this year’s ISAD, “Spread The Word – Educate, Cooperate, Communicate.”

I wondered what I could speak about that would best convey how I have spread the word about stuttering awareness. Purpose came to mind.

I remember when I attended my first FRIENDS conference in 2008 and I realized that stuttering can actually have purpose. FRIENDS is the association for young people who stutter. It is a parent driven group that is all about support for young people who stutter and their parents.

I learned about purpose after hearing parents tell me how happy they were that I had come to the conference and shared myself and stories with them. For the first time in many years, I realized that my stuttering could be bigger than just me. That I could use it to spread the word and educate others about stuttering, if I dared.

After that FRIENDS conference, I became a real advocate for stuttering awareness. I had articles written in the local newspapers, organized several stuttering events in the community and began visiting middle schools to educate kids who don’t stutter on what stuttering is and tied it into teasing and bullying prevention. Doing these types of awareness activities became bigger for me than my stuttering.

So, that’s what I spoke about at the Irish Stammering Awareness event on Saturday – purpose. How a sense of purpose can be bigger than you and how my desire to help others has kind of transcended my own stuttering.

I shared with the group about the advocacy activities that I do and challenged them to consider doing similar. It was a great experience, even with some technology disruptions. I felt honored to have been asked to share my story and to talk about purpose. Here’s a picture of me as we were just getting started.

Pam at NSAD

The International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) online conference is going on right now and can be found here.

I have a paper in the conference this year addressing the issue of whether stuttering is viewed as a disability. And who gets to make that call, the individual affected by stuttering or society?

I relate some of my experiences with talking with high school students who noted my stuttering as a disability even though I had never articulated it as a disability myself. I find it interesting that I’ve also had a boss who referred to me as having a disability when I don’t really consider myself disabled.

However, I have “ticked off” the disability box on applications and questionnaires because technically, stuttering is covered by the Americans With Disabilities (ADA) Act of 1998 and 2010.

I would love your thoughts on The Disability Question.

What do you think? Do you consider stuttering a disability? Who gets to make that determination?

isad-20151-258x300Every year, International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) is marked on October 22. It is a day when people who stutter all over the world participate in events and activities that raise awareness about stuttering and educate the non-stuttering public.

The International Stuttering Association also sponsors an annual online conference. From October 1 through October 22, a variety of presentations are available for people to read, watch or listen to, all with the goal of learning more about stuttering.

Both people who stutter and speech professionals contribute papers, audio and video that conference attendees can participate in and engage with the author. There is a discussion option where people can leave comments with the authors and get feedback or questions answered.

There is also an “Ask The Expert” section of the conference where speech professionals volunteer their time to respond to specific questions asked by anyone in the stuttering community or general public.

It is always a great conference, with enlightening topics from people who stutter themselves and professionals.

Don’t miss it! There’s something for everyone. The conference starts next week, Thursday October 1, 2015. I will have a paper in the conference this year. I hope you visit, read and leave your feedback.

talking_and_supportingThis year’s International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) online conference begins on October 1, 2013 and runs for three weeks through October 22, 2013.

Authors will present papers on a variety of topics relating to stuttering – attitudes and feelings, therapy techniques, research updates and personal experiences.

Presenters are a mix of people from the international stuttering community – people who stutter, family members of people who stutter, clinical therapists and scientific researchers. This is an exciting conference where different voices from all over the world are heard.

This will be a treasure trove of information on stuttering, and you will have the opportunity to interact with the paper authors and ask questions of professionals in the field.

Plan to check out the conference and plan to learn a lot. Spread the word!


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