Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘National Stuttering Association

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.

 

 

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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?

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Yesterday I had an appointment with a health care provider I’ve seen for over 3 years. I see him once every other month for a quick maintenance visit. At this visit, we exchanged small talk which included him asking me about my weekend.

I shared with him that I’d been in Chicago for a long weekend to attend a Board meeting of the National Stuttering Association. He asked if I had ever had a problem with stuttering and I told him that I stutter, and that I was sure I had at least once shared that with him. He said he’s never noticed.

He asked me a little about my experience on the Board and what ways I contribute to the organization. As I was talking, he acknowledged that he indeed heard me occasionally stutter and found it interesting that he never really heard it before. I thought to myself that probably that was because he usually does most of the talking and our visits are always really brief.

He went on to say that he has a large family and eight males in the family stutter. He wondered if there was a genetic link. I told him yes, that there is recent and current research that supports a definite genetic influence and that a NIH researcher has even identified three genes for stuttering.

He was fascinated and I took the opportunity to educate a bit more. I shared that the male to female ratio in stuttering is 4:1 male and that most children often stutter during language development but that about 80% recover naturally and that early intervention was key for children who stutter for more than six months.

He asked a few more questions and then we got to the business at hand! It was the longest conversation we’ve had outside the confines of the reason I was there. I was pleased that he shared his family history with stuttering and that we made a little connection about it. We concluded our visit with comments about how it was nice to have had that chat and interesting how stuttering just came up casually after making small talk for a moment.

I believe I educated this doctor while at the same time I shared something personally important to me. Educating and talking about stuttering with the medical community in a positive and non-shameful way is so important. I’m glad I took the opportunity that was presented to me. And I’m glad I was able to answer some questions for him as it was clear that he was lacking education about stuttering despite having so many family members that stutter.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be interviewed recently by a freelance journalist in the Albany, NY area. He was looking to do a piece on stuttering and wanted to both write an article and produce a podcast.

I got to give a shout out to the National Stuttering Association and shamelessly plug my own work here on this blog. I am very happy with how it turned out, even the picture. Please take a listen when you get a chance – it’s not too long and you can see how I responded “off the cuff” as the interviewer had not sent me the questions in advance!


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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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