Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘stuttering self-help

It’s almost time, unbelievably, for the annual conference of the National Stuttering Association. The 2019 edition will be in beautiful, warm Fort Lauderdale, Florida, officially beginning Wednesday July 3. I am arriving a day ahead to have time to “ease into” all of the activities. This will be my 14th consecutive conference. My first one was in 2006 and I haven’t missed one since.

I almost thought I would have to miss this year’s conference. I have been weathering a physical illness for months now that still seems to be a mystery in it’s root cause. It’s something fancy called “small fiber polyneuropathy” which basically means chronic pain and inflammation. It began in my ankles and legs and has migrated to my hands, wrists and fingers. It’s been really frustrating because I have worked with a team of medical professionals and no one can seem to find a cause. It’s sort of like stuttering in that there’s no known cause. Lucky for me, right?

I missed a month of work this past fall and since have had a lot of follow up appointments so I can function and manage as well as possible.

But the “shit hit the fan” when I learned that my job has been eliminated effective June 30. Along with loss of income comes loss of health insurance which is a huge concern at the most medically vulnerable time for me.

So I have had to think long and hard about spending money to come to the conference, as quite understandably, I’m a bit panic stricken about losing health care access. The United States has a broken health care system. But you know that already.

Ultimately, I have decided to attend anyway, for my mental health. To miss out on the conference after the rough few months I have had would devastate me. I have been actively involved in the NSA’s workplace stuttering initiative and I want to see out the end of my term on the Board of Directors of the NSA. I still have work to do, with lots of ideas to continuously improve outcomes for people who stutter.

So I need to be at the NSA conference next week. The support and empowerment and the many friends I consider family is way too important for me to miss. I need to see my people, my tribe and ask for help from some of those individuals who might just help me find my next opportunity.

This will be the first year since 2007 that I am NOT doing a workshop. That feels a bit weird but at the same time empowering because now I will have time to attend a lot of workshops that sound intriguing and meet new people. To me, that is always the best part. The people, the connections, the love.

So I will be there next week and I can’t wait. I’ve got things to do and people to see and hug. My chaotic world will still be here when I get back, right where I left it.

Looking forward to seeing you.

PamEpisode 162 features Alexandra D’Agostino who hails from London, Ontario, Canada. Alex is 23 years old and is going into her last year of university where she is pursuing a double major of psychology and anthropology.

Alex is considering a Master’s degree in either music therapy or nursing when she completes her undergraduate work. She loves traveling and music, playing seven instruments and singing in her university choir.

Alex is very actively involved in the stuttering community. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Stuttering Association (CSA) where she is part of the social media team. She runs the CSA’s Facebook page. The CSA is holding their annual One Day conference on October 22, 2016. Both Alex and her mom are running workshops.

Alex has also attended conferences of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) since 2011 when she was 18. Her parents have come with her to the annual NSA conferences. Alex served on the NSA’s Teen Advisory Council for three years.

Listen in as we discuss growing up with a stutter, being bullied and speech therapy experiences. We discuss how cyclical stuttering really is and how it affects our life differently depending on what stage of life we are in. Right now, Alex is happy with her speech and feels she has accepted her stuttering.

This was a wonderful conversation with a wonderful young woman who wants everyone who stutters to know that they are not alone. Music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

communitySeth Godin in his book “Tribes” writes:

“A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). It’s our nature.”

People who stutter are connected. That is never more evident than at a stuttering conference.

I just returned from the National Stuttering Association‘s 33rd annual conference, which was held this year in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference was held jointly with the International Stuttering Association‘s World Congress For People Who Stutter, so there were people at the conference from all corners of the world. We came together 825 people strong to celebrate the connection that we have with each other – stuttering.

First timers to the conference and veterans alike all feel an instant connection when they meet someone else who stutters. We feel an incredible sense of community, empathy, freedom and vulnerability. Sharing these feelings and connections together makes us a tribe, at least as far as I’m concerned. And I like being a part of this tribe.

I feel full and whole when I am with other people who stutter. I feel gratitude when other people “get me” without me having to fully explain myself or how I feel about stuttering. A new friend I met at the conference, Dustin, put it quite simply and well: “I’ve never felt more human.”

This was my 11th consecutive conference and I felt the same emotions and sense of family that I did at my very first conference in 2006. I  met a lot of first timers this year, who got to experience the life changing impact that being part of a tribe, or community, has on us. I heard first timers comment that they felt instantly loved and connected upon entering the mix.

And I heard veterans reflect on how amazing it is to catch up with old friends and meet new ones as well. I seized that opportunity – I hung out with friends from previous conferences but also made it a point to meet and interact with as many new people as I could. It was so gratifying to meet people in person that I’d already “met” online in the many stuttering communities, which are also our tribes.

I am at my best when I am with my stuttering community. I feel the sense of belonging and wholeness that I don’t feel in other parts of my life.

The workshops, keynote speakers, and conversations in the hotel lobby and bar, and over dinner, were priceless. But more so was just the general sense of community and being with my tribe. That sense of community was palpable and hung in the air.

It was a great conference. I feel a little “let down” now that I’m home but writing and reflecting always helps me, as does carrying my tribe in my heart.

PamEpisode 147 features Mona Maali, who hails from Austin Texas. Mona was the chapter leader of the Austin National Stuttering Association (NSA) chapter for four years, and was named the NSA Adult Chapter Leader of the Year in 2010. Presently, Mona is a bookseller at an independent book store in Austin.

Mona also compiled, edited and published a book called Turning Points, which features the stories of many people from the Austin NSA chapter.

Listen in as we discuss parts of Mona’s story, where she honestly and courageously shares her journey both with stuttering and ADHD. She has lived with ADHD as long as she has with stuttering and both have had a profound impact on her life.

We discuss whether Mona thinks there is a connection between stuttering and ADHD. Mona shares that both disorders are highly stigmatized and often the individual is “blamed for” having the disorder. Mona didn’t receive help for either stuttering or ADHD while growing up.

The second half of our conversation focuses on how the book, Turning Points, came to be. It was a two year process of gathering other people’s stories and at the same time overcoming and delving deeply into Mona’s own personal journey.

turningpointsMona shares quite eloquently why she didn’t include her own story, and how she feels very hopeful to have published a book. She is very pleased with how it turned out. You can purchase the book at Amazon or at the NSA online store.

Today’s music is credited to ccMixter.

I was interviewed by a friend last Wednesday for an article she wrote about how people who stutter use the internet to form communities. The article is called “The way we talk when we talk about stuttering” and it was published this Sunday January 18 in my friend’s home town of Austin, Texas.

Talking to my friend was a great opportunity for me to reflect on all the different ways I use the internet to form communities.

I have the community that follows this blog, which is still going strong after almost 6 years.

I have the community of women from all over the world that have been part of my podcast “Women Who Stutter: Our Stories” for almost 5 years.

And I have the community that has formed from being a Stutter Social host every other week.

Read the article. It’s great, thorough and mentions me. What more could you ask for? 🙂

PamEpisode 128 features Farah Al Qaissieh who hails from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emerites. Farah works in the strategy department of a government office.

She is also the co-founder of a stuttering support group, called “Stutter With A Smile“, which began in July 2013.

Farah and a friend started the group through Meet-Up.com and advertised through social media and word of mouth. Their first meeting attracted 15 people, and has since averaged 10 people of all ages, including speech language pathologists.

Listen in as we discuss why she wanted to start a support group, the impact it has had on her and members and the group’s goals. We also discuss Farah’s own personal journey with stuttering and what it has meant to her.

This was a great conversation, where we hear a voice from another part of the world. Listen and feel free to leave comments. Feedback is a gift.

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

This is the documentary that appeared in the UK about two weeks ago, featuring several people who participate in the 4 day McGuire program, an intensive stuttering management program.

All of the participants bare their emotions for us during the documentary, so we get a real glimpse as to how complex stuttering really is.

Thank you to Maria McGrath for sending me the YouTube link, so those of us outside the UK could watch the film, which is great.

PamEpisode 122 features Yousra Ouchen, a 25 year old who hails from Casablanca, Morocco. Yousra works as a financial consultant in an accounting company. She enjoys playing the guitar, drawing and writing.

Yousra is a founder of the new Moroccan Association of Stammering, which is on its way to becoming official. The association currently has 15 members.

Listen in as Yousra discusses what it’s been like getting the association off the ground and the work it involves.

We also discuss the perception of stuttering in Morocco, and how people who stutter are seen as not having confidence. Yousra also shares her speech therapy experiences, and how talking about stuttering helps her to feel better about it.

This was a great conversation with a strong young woman who is determined to help people who stutter in her country. Feel free to leave comments or questions for Yousra. The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

Pam

Episode 121 features Natalia Kissamitaki who hails from Athens, Greece. Natalia is a graphic artist and she describes herself as very communicative and social. She is also a newlywed, having just married in January.

Natalia is one of the founders of the Greek Initiative for People Who Stutter. The idea for this initiative was planted several years ago, and was officially licensed by the Greek government one month ago. Check out their Facebook page here.

It is named the Greek “Initiative” because Natalia and others took initiative to advocate for an individual who was fired from his job as a police officer because of stuttering. They won, and the individual got his job back.

Listen in as we discuss workplace stuttering, the positive side of stuttering and learning to respect and accept differences.

We also discuss how the Initiative works with individuals and points them in the direction of the Greek Union of Speech Therapists.

This was a great conversation with a woman who does not let stuttering stand in her way. The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

Episode 91 features Annie Bradberry, who hails from Corona, California. Annie was the Director of the National Stuttering Association for 10 years. She has been involved with the NSA all of her adult life.

Presently, Annie works as the Director of Development of The 100 Mile Club, a physical fitness and lifestyles program for kids in schools.

We talk about her involvement in the stuttering community and the growth she has seen over the years. Annie also shares what it was like transitioning from being the face of the NSA to “Annie who stutters.”

Listen in as we also chat about therapy experiences, moments of vulnerability, self talk, small talk and how stuttering has been an asset sometimes. And we really touch on being more open to our authentic self. We also laugh a lot in this conversation.

We invite you to leave comments, or just let Annie know what you thought of her story. Music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

Episode 15 of the series of conversations with men who stutter features Hanan Hurwitz, who hails from Ra’anana, Israel, via South Africa.

Hanan is an electrical engineer, and works for a company that makes server control equipment.

Hanan attended his first National Stuttering Association conference in 2010. We discuss the power of support and community and what a relief it is to realize that we are not alone.

Listen in to a rich conversation about Hanan’s journey, one which he describes as one of incremental steps.  He is excited about sharing his story, as it has been so valuable for him to hear others who have shared their stories.

We talk about avoidance, “mental gymnastics,” losing track of conversations, and talking about stuttering. One thing (among many) things that I loved in this conversation was when I asked Hanan if he does any advertising of his stutter.

His response: “People know I stutter because I stutter.”

Please leave comments for either of us in the comment section, or just let Hanan know what a great job he did. Feedback is a gift.

The music clip in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

Episode 84 features Miranda Smith, who hails from Florence, Kentucky. Miranda is a full-time college student at Northern Kentucky University, studying computer information technology, with a minor in computer forensics. She also works as a waitress.

Miranda is actively involved in the National Stuttering Association, serving as a board member on the Teen Advisory Council.

Listen in as we talk about how she got involved in the stuttering community, her feelings about stuttering, confidence and self-consciousness, and how she balances a very full plate. Well, waitresses are exceptionally good at that, right?

Miranda also talks about fund raising she has done for the National Stuttering Association and advertising she has done about stuttering. She shares how the “Stutter Like A Rock Star” bracelets were a big hit.

Even though I am the original “stutterrockstar” (@StutterRockStar on twitter and the url for this blog) it’s cool that Miranda took “stutterlikearockstar”as her email address. We are both making room for our stuttering and there is certainly enough room!

Please be sure to listen in and leave comments or questions for Miranda. Or just let her know what a great job she did.

The music clip used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

The Indian Stammering Association (TISA) is having their first National Conference to promote self help and community for Indian people who stutter at the end of this year.

The conference will take place from December 28, 2011 to January 1, 2012. It is being held at the Institute of Health Sciences (IHS), Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India. Details for meals, lodging and the purpose and agenda can be found here.

I am happy to pass this information along to anyone who regularly visits my blog or listens to any of my podcast episodes.

Stuttering/stammering is universal. We may live in different countries and have different accents, but anyone who stutters understands the fear, shame and stigma that can result from trying to deal with our stuttering in isolation.

I have been very fortunate on many fronts. I found and got involved in the United States National Stuttering Association (NSA) in 2006. I learned how empowering it is to connect with other people from different cultures who experience communication differences in a world where we take talking for granted.

I started writing about my stuttering journey on this blog in February 2009 (almost 3 years!) and have regularly been supported by people who stutter in India. We have shared resources, perspectives and ideas.

I have also had the good fortune to talk with several people who stutter from India via Skype. This has been a wonderful opportunity to prove how important self-help is, as well as paying it forward to others.

If you are an Indian person who stutters who wants to discover the power of meeting others who stutter, do everything you can to attend this first ever Indian National Conference.

Or if you love someone who stutters or are a professional or like me, a person from another country who would like to attend and can afford to do so, GO. (I wish I could!)

It will be a life changing experience.

Producer note: This is the third episode in the very occasional series I do with men who stutter.

As you can see, my graphic designer and friend  (Daniele Rossi)provided me with a new logo. I changed the name slightly to include the word “stutter” in the title so listeners can more easily find these special episodes.

So please look periodically here on the blog for these great conversations. They will also be downloadable on iTunes.

This 3rd episode features Vivek Singh, who hails from Pune, India. Vivek is 29 years old and very active in the self-help stuttering community in India. He is a computer engineer, and leads a weekly self-help group in his workplace that is supported by his corporation. I believe this is the first I have heard of this!

Vivek is a man of many interests. He enjoys reading books that help him explore the meaning of life with a scientific basis. He also enjoys inspirational reading, and all things physics.

Listen in as we discuss how Vivek became so immersed in the self-help movement and what continues to drive him. We also discuss his mastery of concealing his stuttering, acceptance, temporary fluency, first impressions, therapy and so much more.

To learn more about Vivek, please see his 2011 ISAD paper My Journey As A Stammerer.

Please feel free to leave comments for Vivek and me too. Feedback is so important. Music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

https://stutterrockstar.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/episode-62-with-cynthia.mp3

Episode 62 features Cynthia Scace who hails from Greenfield, Massachusetts. Cyn has been a caseworker for an elder and disabled services agency for 25 years.

Cynthia shares her entry into the stuttering community, when her then 3-year-old son showed signs of stuttering. A life-long stutterer, her first reaction was panic and fear. She wished her child could have any other disability but stuttering.

Cynthia researched and found the virtual support group, Stutt-L. She became actively involved, made new friends and learned new perspectives. A year later, in 1997, she attended her first NSA conference.

This episode packs a punch. We talk about Cynthia’s journey of finding peace for herself and her son, who is now 17 years old.

Listen in as we discuss childhood stuttering, negative therapy experiences, shame and acceptance, NSA and FRIENDS.  Stuttering is now a positive part of Cynthia’s identity. Cynthia is very open as she relates how people have reacted to her struggled stuttering, bringing up stuttering, passive intervention and covert stuttering.

To my delight, Cynthia also shares how she began a NSA chapter with local people, including the late Marty Jezer, who wrote the wonderful book, Stuttering: A Life Bound Up In Words. Jezer’s book was the first I ever read about stuttering. I have loaned it out several times and always make sure I get it back!

Credit for the podcast safe music used in this episode goes to Dano Songs.

I invite you to leave comments. Feedback is a gift!


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