Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘media coverage of stuttering

when I stutterI recently had the privilege to see the documentary When I Stutter, a film by John Gomez. This is a film about people who stutter and portrays how people who stutter actually feel about stuttering, which is not always talked about. It is an honest examination of the sometimes dark side of stuttering, which often doesn’t get explored.

The film is currently making the rounds of private screenings and film festivals. It is being sponsored by colleges and universities that have communications disorders programs and being promoted by the National Stuttering Association.

It is a powerful learning experience for speech language pathologists and students studying to be future therapists. But it also demands and deserves to be seen by anyone who has an interest in the power of people who stutter daring to express themselves no matter how their voice might sound or how long it may take to speak.

That’s what hit home for me. The power of the voices. These are real people who stutter. Not actors portraying people who stutter, which is the sad norm when stuttering even gets a mention today. And we hear from both men and women and people of color, again an anomaly. So the film, by its intentional design, promotes diversity and inclusion.

Listening to the voices and seeing the facial expressions of people like me sharing their stories was visceral. Partly because I knew some of the people, especially the women, Rachel and Jenny, who have both been featured as guests on my podcast, Women Who Stutter: Our Stories.

So, knowing these people made it personal. Knowing the stories as my own made it real. Understanding the dynamics and complexity of stuttering made me nod my head in some parts. And tears welled up easily at other parts.

This is a must see film if you have any interest at all in the human condition. Even if you don’t stutter, you will identify with the shame, isolation and feelings of inadequacy that anyone with something that makes us stand out from everyone else can so easily relate to.

Kudos to John Gomez for bringing this film to light and to the stuttering community and the communities at large that we inhabit. We all have something that makes us different, stand out, unique. It is vital that we share our stories about whatever that is in as authentic a voice as possible. And “When I Stutter” accomplishes this, with grace and respect and actually honors the people who dared to be real with us.

Go see this film. It’s important.

 

PamEpisode 184 features Madeline Wahl, who presently lives in New York City. She moved to NY from Florida five years ago to take a job with the Huff Post. She currently works as an opinion editor with the Huff, has always loved writing and writes a lot in her spare time. Madeline also greatly enjoys solo traveling and talks about how your “travel self” is your “true self.”

I first “discovered” Madeline when I read a few of her articles about stuttering that were published on the Huff Post. I remember being so thrilled to see pieces about stuttering in a popular site that I read and I really wanted to see if I could get Madeline to come on here as a guest. I emailed her, but didn’t hear back. So, I honestly forgot about it!

Then, shortly before this year’s NSA conference I  heard from Madeline. She had archived my email and reached out, saying she’d love to be a guest if I’d still have her. Of course, I was thrilled to hear from her. We started corresponding through email, as Madeline was planning to attend that NSA conference for the first time. I offered her some tips and suggestions and we vowed to meet in person at the conference.

Well, we did, very briefly. Then we followed up about two weeks later, and here’s this conversation we had. Listen in as Madeline shares what that first NSA conference was like, some really deep thoughts about the value and importance of words, and the deep emotions that get stirred up when being surrounded by other people who stutter.

We also talk about intense listening, patience being mindful, and the true spectrum of stuttering that exists within the stuttering community.

I was grateful for this “deep dive” conversation and hope you find it as compelling as I did.

Here are links to several of the articles that Madeline mentions in this episode.

What It Actually Feels Like To Stutter

Why I’m Thankful That I Stutter

As always, the podcast safe music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

This wonderful piece by film maker Luke Collins hit YouTube this week and is circulating through the stuttering community. It is receiving high marks. The film exquisitely captures the intimidation and panic that a person who stutters feels and imagines.

I commented on the piece on YouTube and the film maker responded back. He is pleased that people who stutter think this is authentic representation. I asked him why he didn’t portray the character himself. He said he didn’t feel he has the “acting chops.” He also shared that directing the actor was an interesting way to explore the process that he experiences. Kudos to Luke for sharing a piece that people who stutter can all relate to.

Well, last week was a very busy one for me. Like I mentioned in my last post, I had several opportunities to talk about stuttering and hopefully raise awareness in my little corner of the world.

Last Monday, I was a guest on a local media production’s podcast where they interviewed me about stuttering. They sent me the link a few days later and I was really happy with how it turned out. The interviewers had done some prior research and asked me some great questions. Take a listen if you’d like. (Although that is an awful picture of me! Ugh!)

On Wednesday, I had the chance to “tell” my story at a 25th anniversary celebration of the Interfaith Story Circle, which is a local group here in Albany, New York that focuses on the power of storytelling. I was so delighted to have my story about women who stutter sharing their stories included in their celebration event.

And on Thursday last week, my podcast was featured on one of our local news channel’s segments highlighting women. That was such an exciting experience, as being on TV is a big deal, at least to me anyway. Fortunately, I was more photogenic in this clip here.

http://wnyt.com/news/pamela-mertz-podcast-for-women-who-stutter/4902733/?cat=11883

 

 

Hey everyone! It’s that time of year again! Here in the United States, it’s National Stuttering Awareness Week. In fact, it’s the 30th anniversary of this special week. In 1988, the second week in May was declared as National Stuttering Awareness Week. 

Two individuals that were involved in what was then the National Stuttering Project (NSP) were the driving force behind making this happen. Paul Castellano and Barbara Hubbard Koval, with the support of their NSP chapter, pitched the idea to their local Congress members in 1986.  Eighteen months later, in 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the proclamation making the second week in May National Stuttering Awareness Week and it’s been commemorated every year since then.

While I believe that every day should be used to raise awareness for stuttering, this week is a great opportunity to talk about stuttering to people who don’t stutter and try to get some media attention to bring it into the spotlight. Many people involved in what is now the National Stuttering Association (NSA) contact the  media to get people talking about stuttering. Here are some good ideas from the NSA on what you could do!

I am really psyched that I have two media opportunities this week. Tonight I am going to The Sanctuary For Independent Media which is local for me and will be a guest on their live podcast. I am excited that they were interested enough to bring someone on to talk about stuttering.

Tomorrow morning, I will be interviewed by a local TV reporter for a segment on her Today’s Women which airs weekly on the local evening news. The piece will run on Thursday evening. I was a guest on her show seven years ago, and she is doing a follow-up with me about stuttering in general and the growth of my podcast. I’m definitely excited.

What can you do to raise awareness about stuttering?

 

 

 

 

“Stutterer” won the Oscar last night at the Academy Awards for best live action short film. It was up against 4 other short films and clearly moved audiences. The Academy got it right by bestowing the award on “Stutterer.”

Have you seen it yet? It is only 12 minutes long  and you can buy it from YouTube and make it part of your personal library.

The stuttering community is abuzz about the film, with people offering mixed feelings about how the character’s stuttering was portrayed. People are also talking about how they feel about another character with “flawed” communication being the one to interact with the stutterer.

The film really helps put into perspective the whole notion of imperfections.

Do check it out when you can.

 

 

Spoiler alert!!!!

I recently went to see the short film “Stutterer,” which was shown as part of five short films nominated for Oscars in the live action category. It is exciting to see another film about stuttering up for an Academy Award. Hopefully it will ignite stuttering awareness.

The short film is only 12 minutes long, but packs a punch. On opening, you see the main character, Greenwood, struggle to speak on the phone. Later in the film, we see Greenwood’s father make the phone call for him.

The film conveys how much of a struggle it is for Greenwood to speak, yet in his head, the words flow eloquently and effortlessly.

He is lonely, because he is terrified of communicating with anyone. He is studying sign language and pretends to be deaf so he can communicate without having to speak verbally.

The crux of the film centers around a relationship he has with a beautiful girl he has met online. He can communicate with ease as he types out witty responses to this girl.

But soon she wants to meet in person. She writes him suggesting a meet up, as she is planning a visit. This brings him to a panic, and he doesn’t respond to her right away.

She assumes his non-response means that he doesn’t want to meet. Finally, after much delay, he gets up the courage and writes to her saying he’d like to meet if she was still interested.

When they meet, he discovers she is deaf and communicates through sign language.

The short film was deeply satisfying and left me wanting more. I wanted to see what became of their meet up and if they started dating. I wanted to see if he got up the courage to seek out speaking situations despite his severe stutter.

I felt the character’s stuttering was very realistic, as was his fear of negative social reactions and judgement.

My concern is the portrayal of sign language as a viable alternative to speaking. I worry that stutterers will see this film and get the idea that using sign language to avoid speaking is OK. That’s not the message we should send to the stuttering community, especially young people who have not yet found their voices.

The film is a romance and really doesn’t aim to raise stuttering awareness. But maybe the title will do the trick and get people talking about stuttering which always provides a good opportunity to educate and raise awareness.

 

 

 


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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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