Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘kids who stutter

Episode 207 features Rivky Susskind, who hails from Brooklyn, NY. Rivky is a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) who recently has decided to open her own private practice to help clients who stutter. Rivky also loves music, singing and writing.

Rivky has immediate and extended family that also stutter so it was “almost normal” that she stuttered, yet feelings about stuttering were never talked about. Rivky describes the shame she grew up with and the “mountain of shame” she finally confronted when she was ready. She mentions always hoping that someone would find out she stuttered so she could be “fixed” and then help “cure” others. As you’ll learn from listening, that’s not what happened.

Listen in as we discuss covert stuttering, change versus acceptance, the incredible power of community and meeting others who stutter and the “legacy” Rivky hopes to leave.

The music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

PamEpisode 206 features Isabell Rennie, who hails from Provo, Utah. Isabell is 24 years old and a recent college graduate. She has a degree in Wildlife and Wild Lands Conservation and is figuring out her career path. She loves animals and loves to teach so it’s highly likely that’s where she’ll find herself.

Isabell is active in the stuttering community. She co-leads the Provo chapter of the National Stuttering Association and has worked as a Counselor at Camp SAY for two summers.

Listen in as we talk about what happened when Isabell finally addressed the “volcano of feelings” she had but never talked about. She is learning to love this part of herself. Stuttering has made her a better person and helps her treat people the way she wants to be treated. Isabell feels more equipped to handle hurt feelings. She said something that really resonated with me: “Be loud and be in charge of how people treat you.”

We also chat about how incredibly important it has been to find the stuttering community. Her advice to young women just starting out on the stuttering journey? “It’s OK to take your time to get there.”

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

 

PamEpisode 178 features return guest Annie Bradberry, who hails from Corona, California. Annie is the Executive Director of a non-profit, former Executive Director of the National Stuttering Association and current Chair of the International Stuttering Association.

She is married almost 30 years to husband Bob and is loving her newest role as grandma to three. And today is Annie’s birthday. What a great way to celebrate by hearing what she’s been up to recently. Happy Birthday Annie!

Listen in as we talk about the sense of purpose Annie has that fuels her sustained involvement in the stuttering community. We discuss a recent opportunity she had to meet with some elementary school kids that stutter. And we also discuss a local TV program that Annie filmed about stuttering, along with two other people who stutter. The program, called Lifestyle Magazine, will air in October.

Finally, we discuss two upcoming keynote opportunities for Annie – one for the NSA conference in Chicago and one for the Joint World Congress for People Who Stutter and Clutter, in Hiroshima, Japan, both in July. And we wrap up with talking about struggling with small talk and how that can be so challenging for people who stutter.

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

 

 

stuttering presentation NovemberI had the opportunity earlier in the month to talk to middle school kids about stuttering. I gave three presentations, one each to the 6th, 7th and 8th grades. There was about 100 kids in each group. This is a piece the school did about the presentations and put on their website.

It went great. I talked about what stuttering is and isn’t, discussed myths about stuttering and how to interact with someone who stutters. I had several interactive activities for the kids to participate in, so they could “try on” stuttering and so that I could normalize it for them.

I had several large grapefruits and asked a few students to come up to the front of the room and try to hide them somewhere on their person where no one would be able to see them. They had fun trying to conceal a big grapefruit. I explained that it was like when I tried to hide my stuttering – as much as I tried, it still showed.

I also had Chinese Finger Traps for the kids to play with and experiment with getting stuck. I explained how it feels to get stuck when you stutter and get a block.

And I had the students experiment with a quick moment of voluntary stuttering. There were lots of reactions to this. Many felt uncomfortable, awkward, aggravated, found it hard to do. A teacher in the audience shared that she felt many students didn’t want to do it as it might seem disrespectful to someone who really stutters.

The best part of the morning was when a SLP came up to me and said that there was a 6th grader who stutters and she really wanted to come up and meet me and ask some questions. Keira came up after the presentation, introduced herself, stuttered openly and asked several very insightful questions.

She told me I was the first person she had ever met that also stuttered. I could tell it was a big deal for her to have come up to me. I was so glad she did. Hopefully, the experience reassured her that stuttering is not the end of the world and it’s just another way of talking like I had mentioned in the presentation.

Anytime we can, people who stutter should share our experiences, especially to young people. It teaches them about compassion, tolerance and diversity and that’s what makes the world go ’round.

Last week I had a wonderful opportunity to speak to kids who stutter at a stuttering camp. The director had invited me to meet with the kids, ages 8-12, via Skype. Before my talk, the kids explored this blog and my podcast and prepared some questions.

The goal of the week was to get the kids talking about stuttering, to gain confidence and to learn how to create their own podcast.

My chat with the kids was great. They asked about how I feel when I stutter, if I ever get nervous when talking in front of people and what I’ve done to get comfortable talking. We had a real back and forth conversation and we all learned from each other. The kids had never met an adult who stutters. I think they thought it was cool!

Later in the day, the director emailed me. The kids were asked to reflect on their day and several said my talk was a highlight. One kid drew a picture to illustrate what the room looked like when I was talking to them via the computer.kids listening to Pam

Later in the week, the kids learned how to create a podcast and they did several, on all kinds of creative topics. They also presented on the last day to their parents and SLP students about facts on stuttering, what they learned during the week and what they’re thinking about for the new school year.

This was a unique opportunity for these children. They focused on talking and having fun and gaining skills and confidence. I was happy to have a small part in the week.

I just recently returned from a trip to the west coast, that included a weekend in Tempe, Arizona for the 2nd Annual National Stuttering Association Regional Fall Conference.

The regional conferences are similar to the national conferences except that they are on a much smaller scale. 104 people attended this event in Arizona, making it a very intimate gathering where you actually got to know and talk with one another.

There was a mix of adults who stutter, parents, kids and teens and some SLPs. I had a great experience at the workshops, which focused on communicating with ease, managing anger and successful speech management. There was also a great Open Mic session where people told very personal, inspiring stories.

But the best part for me was seeing young people embrace the experience and totally blossom in the presence of other people who stutter. That almost always happens at stuttering conferences but it was magnified this time since it was such a small group.

Young people like Aiden, Diego and Regan felt comfortable to get up and speak to the whole group several times and they shared such pearls of wisdom. They talked about it being OK to stutter, that if you stutter, you’re not alone and that together, we are strong. These are mottoes of the NSA, but to hear them come out of the mouths of babes, so confidently and convincingly, was so inspiring.

Young people who stutter today are fortunate to interact with adults who stutter and vice versa. We adults got so much out of the kid’s confidence and were reminded that if they can speak up and advocate for themselves, then we certainly can too.

Young Regan, 11 years old, really impressed me. She has the self-assurance and sense of humor of a much older teen and clearly feels comfortable in her skin. Her mom was thrilled that they were able to attend their first conference. I fully expect Regan to one day be in a leadership position for the NSA. The kids are our future and it seems like we’ll be in great hands.

EpiPamsode 136 features Dori Lenz Holte, who is a parent of a child who stutters. Dori hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota and is the author of the book, “Voice Unearthed: Hope, Help and a Wake-Up Call for the Parents of Children Who Stutter.”

Dori also has a blog and a Facebook group offering support for the parents of children who stutter.

Dori says she wrote the book she wished she had read when she was starting out on the journey with her son Eli, who stutters and is now 18.

Listen in as Dori describes how traditional speech therapy affected her child and the frustration and desperation she and her husband felt as parents.

She talks about being told to “keep looking” for a speech therapist who was a specialist in stuttering.  That period of “keep looking” added to the silence and withdrawal that her son was experiencing as a young child who was trying, and failing, to use speech tools and techniques.

Dori also discusses the need for parents to keep their eye on the big picture, which is to raise confident and happy children. And parents should listen to their instincts.

This was an important conversation. Thanks Dori for being a guest.

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

 

No words needed for this one – watch this truly inspiring video of a dad talking about what he learned at the recent National Stuttering Association 2014 conference.

I just finished the excellent book Paperboy by Vince Vawter and couldn’t stop smiling.

Paperboy is the story of an 11-year-old boy who takes over his best friend’s paper route for a month during July in Memphis. Victor is happy to help his friend out, but secretly obsesses over having to communicate with customers when he collects the weekly fee.

Young Victor stutters and the author perfectly captures the feelings, fears and worries that come with being different. We are able to get right into Victor’s head as he practices speaking to some of his customers and as he fervently switches trouble words for words he can say without stuttering.

The author uses a unique style to depict dialogue throughout the story and conveys through words what Victor’s stuttered speech sounds and feels like.

This story will resonate with young people and adults who stutter, as it depicts a real life situation that all of us who stutter can relate to. Victor uses some speech therapy techniques to make his stuttering easier, and he also uses avoidance, which will be all too familiar to many of us who try to be covert!

Paperboy is the story of a kid who is a great baseball pitcher, a friend and a youngster who is learning how to communicate with adults, stand up for himself and learning about empathy.

We learn about his relationships with his parents, his Mam, his peers and the adults he encounters on his paper route. And we root for him as he finds himself in some tough situations and as he gradually becomes more self-aware.

This is a great book about stuttering, life and coming of age. It’s geared for young people, but adults (including parents of kids who of stutter) will love it too.

Put it on your reading list. You won’t be sorry!

I am thrilled to be featured this week on my friend Daniele’s site, Stuttering is Cool. Daniele is working on a book offering advice and coping strategies for people who stutter. He is aiming for a Spring 2014 release of his book.

Daniele interviews me on who I am, what I do, my stuttering history and what advice I offer to kids who stutter. Check it out HERE!

Check out the drawing of me Daniele has done. He has done caricatures of people in the stuttering community that will be included in his book.

Very cool!

It’s that time of year when it’s back to school or college. For young people who stutter, this can be a tough time, as it means meeting new people and teachers and having to introduce yourself, which can be very difficult for people who stutter.

Many people who stutter have trouble saying their own name, which of course results in often dumb comments by listeners, like the famous, “did you forget your name?” That’s happened to me as an adult, and it’s hard to take, so for kids and teens who stutter, it can be particularly tough.

I know a lot of young people who stutter who have learned how to self advocate and talk to their teachers about their stuttering, what it is and what the young person needs from his/her teacher in order to be their most successful.

I heard today from the mom of one of these great kids who is starting high school this year. Transitioning to high school is tough enough but add stuttering to the mix and it can be a terrible experience for kids who stutter. Fear, embarrassment and avoidance can become the norm unless the kid knows good self-advocacy skills.

My young friend wrote a letter to her teachers and met with the vice principal of her new high school to let him know she stutters, what will make things easier for her throughout the year and to ask his support in getting her letter to her teachers. The letter basically states, “Hey, I’m Anna and I stutter” and goes on to state what stuttering is and how she and her teachers can work together to ensure Anna has a positive and productive year.

I am so proud to know this kid. Being able to self-advocate is a skill we all need in order to successfully navigate through life. And this kid is 14.

Good for her.

What are you doing to get ready for back to school or college? Not even as a student – are you an adult who stutters who works in education and maybe tries to hide your stuttering? We can all learn from Anna!

I want to share a good stuttering experience I had this week.

On Saturday, I participated in a Block Party held in my community and represented the National Stuttering Association at an information table. It was a great day – the weather cooperated and it was warm, which brought a lot of people out.

I had many visitors to my table and delighted in being able to share information about stuttering, both to those who did not know much about it and to several who did.

One of the first visitors to my table was 6-year-old Charlie who stutters. He was with his uncle. We talked about stuttering and I gave the uncle some resource material. I gave Charlie a pin, a wrist band and a chinese finger trap, which illustrates what it’s like to get stuck in a stuttering block.

By the end of our brief conversation, Charlie was stuttering like a rockstar and grinning from ear to ear.

I also met 9-year-old Taylor who also stutters. He shared with me the 3 ways he stutters – repetitions, stretches and blocks. He knew blocking very well and schooled me on it. He too left the table with a big grin.

Later in the day, the city mayor came over and introduced himself and we chatted a bit. The mayor shared that he had stuttered as a kid, which led him to be quiet. He said, “when you’re quiet, you don’t stutter.” He said his stuttering stopped when he was in his teens.

He also asked me if I knew the former mayor of another city near us, who stutters. I did and we talked about our admiration for his willingness to be vulnerable every day in his public speaking. He is no longer the mayor, but holds a different role in state government.

It was a great day to raise awareness and educate about stuttering. The two little guys who openly stuttered made my day!

Several years ago I would never have imagined that I could be out in public willingly talking about stuttering, while stuttering, just to educate others. I have grown so much in my journey.

I encourage all of you to take opportunities when you can to participate in community events and volunteer to be an ambassador for stuttering. You will reap the rewards, I promise you.

There was some discussion on one of the stuttering email groups about this young man’s choice to deliver a rap for his graduation speech.

A comment laments the fact that this kid, Colin, might give the impression to those that don’t stutter that he had no choice but to use a “trick” to deliver his graduation speech.

I applaud Colin’s very choice to take a risk and be innovative. It shows me that he did not let his stutter prevent him from participating in his graduation ceremony.

I saw this question posted on Yahoo Answers by a young girl who was looking for alternatives she could try to help with her stuttering.

I am a 15 year old girl who stutters. Lately, I have been letting it get the best of me. Last year, I didn’t care who thought I was weird if I stuttered and if someone did, than they are an idiot. But now that I am in high school, I have been figuring out that people don’t want to be friends with someone who is different…if you understand what I mean. The sad thing is though, I understand them and frankly agree (in my 3rd person world). I took speech therapy for 13 years and it has had no effect. I was wondering if there is anything different than the speech easy and therapy? (Both haven’t worked in the slightest.) I have lost most of my friends because I am afraid to talk to them now… Katie

A couple of people recommended this young girl try practicing reading out loud, singing, or Reiki.

I posted a response to her on the Yahoo site. Rather than just reprint what I posted, (which is not one of the above ideas) I wondered what some of you might suggest to her!

Please leave comments or give some ideas for this 15-year old. What have you learned about making room for your stuttering that might help Katie?

I will try to post some of these to her original question on Yahoo in the hopes that she will see them, or link over here so she can see your comments!

Kudos to my young friend, Philip Garber, who is featured in this New York Times article today, A Stutterer Faces Resistance, From the Front of the Class.

I know Philip, who is 16 years old, from the NSA. I have known him for a couple of years, so have had the opportunity to see him “grow up” as a young person with a profound stutter.

I also know Philip’s mom, Marin, who is mentioned in the article. I got to spend more time getting to know Marin at this year’s NSA conference in Ft Worth, Texas. We ran into each other at the airport on the way to Texas (!), and hung out quite a bit, sharing some meals together.

When this discouraging incident happened with Philip last month, Marin emailed me and asked my opinion of how Philip might handle the matter. We bantered a few thoughts back and forth, but ultimately Philip decided how it would be handled. He is quite skilled at self-advocacy.

I suggested that Philip should do a presentation to the faculty on stuttering awareness, and am pleased that he IS going to do this at some point.

Please take the time to read this article and the many comments (355 the last I saw!) The reactions are mixed.

What do you think? Do you think Philip was discriminated against? Do you think that the professor was reasonable in asking that Philip not speak in class? Is the article too one-sided? What lessons can be learned from this scenario?

Here’s a video that Philip did last year to commemorate International Stuttering Awareness Day, which is October 22. Hard to remember he is only a kid!


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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2020. 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 2020.
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