Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘stuttering therapy

This week, I joined a Zoom session that was only for women who stutter. It was hosted by a woman from Scotland in collaboration with the Facebook group “Women Who Stammer.” They have offered Zoom sessions consistently every other week since the early days of the pandemic. I have attended several.

This week’s session included several first timers, younger women who stammer, and a 15 year old who came in with her mom.

During the chat, the issue of therapy came up, and we discussed what drives therapy sessions and how goals are, or should be, set. One of the younger women shared that the SLP she recently began seeing didn’t seem particularly interested in what her goals were.

I shared that taking ownership and the driver’s seat is critical when establishing the therapeutic alliance. I discussed how I felt when I went into therapy for the first time as an adult. I mentioned that at first I thought I was to follow the lead of the therapist as I assumed that she would know what I needed. I quickly came to realize that was not the case.

I mentioned that I had written a paper called “Things I Learned in Therapy” 10 years ago that was all still relevant today.

After the session, the mom of the teen reached out to me via email to let me know how empowering my story was and wanted to read the paper I wrote. I responded right away and sent the link to the paper.

Each of us should always remember that our story, even though it may not seem like much, has the potential to help someone else.

 

Episode 27 of this occassional male series features Chris Constantino, who is a PhD SLP and Assistant Professor at Florida State University. Chris teaches both a stuttering course and a counseling course, both of which are vital if SLP’s are going to be confident employing a holistic approach to stuttering. He says that future SLPs need to be “clinicians” not “technicians.”

Chris’s research interests include studying how people experience their stutter so to help people make their stuttering experience as enjoyable as possible.

Chris remembers a personal therapy experience where he first learned that it was OK to stutter. He says, “I didn’t have to be fluent to speak.” That inspired him to want to help other persons who stutter to speak more easily.

Listen in as we discuss how to make it easier for people who stutter to speak, how to talk about stuttering differently, what experiences we have that we wouldn’t if we didn’t stutter, and solidarity with the disabled community.

This was a great conversation, that could have gone on for hours.

 

Today I am happy to host a guest blog from Oli Cheadle, a speech and language therapist based in the UK. I had the pleasure of sharing a conversation with Oli a number of years ago on my podcast for men who stutter, “He Stutters: She Asks Him.”

My name is Oli. I am a speech and language therapist and also a person who stutters. I am based in the UK. I have a mild stutter and can block in some specific situations, e.g. making telephone calls to unfamiliar people, asking directions from strangers.

Pam has very kindly given me the opportunity to write about a new intensive program for stuttering called Modifying Phonation Intervals 2 (MPI-2) and to feed back on my own experiences of going through the program.

What is the MPI-2?
MPI-2 was developed by Dr Roger Ingham and colleagues at the University of California and is based on research which shows that when speakers reduce the number of short phonatory intervals in their speech by 50% there is a significant reduction in stuttering. The MPI-
2 program uses an iOS app that gives biofeedback to help you learn a new speech technique that results in very low levels of stuttering.

The program then guides the speaker through progressively more challenging speaking tasks, requiring them consistently use this new technique at every step. MPI-2 is a very fluency-focused therapy and, as a result, it is obviously not a good a fit for everyone.

I have tried to give an idea of the MPI-2 iOS app, what short phonatory intervals are, and the speech technique involved in the below video.

A study by Ingham et al. (2015) found that most participants who undergo this intensive fluency shaping program achieve very low levels of stuttering and are able to maintain this long-term (73% of participants). It is designed for adults and older adolescents approximately 15 years and up.

 Was it helpful for my speech?

Definitely. Having completed the program, which took me about 7 months, I am finding that I am able to speak without stuttering in situations where I previously stuttered often, for example stopping a stranger in the street and asking directions or making telephone calls to unfamiliar people. It has taken a lot of work to complete the program and I have found it really worthwhile.

 

Episode 205 features Danette Fitzgerald, who hails from New Haven, Connecticut. Danette is an Optical Systems Engineer working on the manufacturing side of building microscopes.

She has always been good with math and science and discovered she wanted to pursue a career in science after taking a physics class and finding it fun. She is a chapter leader for the local National Stuttering Association support group and also loves traveling.

Listen in as we talk about covert stuttering and “recovery from covert behaviors,” stuttering in the workplace, speech therapy experiences, advertising and confidence building strategies.

We also chat about Danette’s recent experience at the ISA World Congress for People Who Stutter which was held in Iceland this past June. I really enjoyed this opportunity to connect with Danette, as we’ve known each other for many years now but never had a chance to talk in depth like we did here.

 

Episode 202 features Ariel Mahlmann, age 23, who hails from Olney, Maryland. Ariel graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Economics and she works full time for a Cyber Security start=up, Ariel also writes a blog about lifestyle and stuttering. Her blog title illustrates her stuttering.

:Listen in as we discuss networking and interviewing, advertising stuttering and ways we manage our stuttering. Ariel also talks about the very positive experience she has had in avoidance reduction speech therapy. She describes the goals and objectives of this non-traditional therapy perfectly and explains why it suits her so well.

We also talk about Ariel’s first time experience at last year’s National Stuttering Association annual conference and it’s impact. Ariel wrote a great blog post describing what that first-timer experience was like. Ariel is planning to go back for her second conference and is prepping for it by intentionally setting  goals o ensure she gets the most out of it and has fun. What a great idea!II plan to set a goal as well to meet a certain number of new people.

This was such a fun conversation and I look forward to meeting up with Ariel in person in Fort Lauderdale.

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

I had the opportunity to present about stuttering to a group of high school students specializing in neuroscience and all things associated with the brain. They are all so smart, far smarter than I ever remember myself being at their age.

The teacher has invited me to do this talk for several years and I am always up to the challenge. To keep a talk about a disorder that is limited to just a small percentage of the population interesting and engaging enough for young people is indeed a challenge.

But I did it and was just so amazed with their genuine interest and thoughtful questions. I spent about half the time sharing current research with them on stuttering and the brain and the other half of the time sharing personal stories that hopefully truly illustrated for them what stuttering really is and is not.

Today I got some feedback from each student. It really made my heart sing to read their comments and be left feeling that I really did help educate them on something that might stay with them for years to come.

Here are a few of the feedback pieces I am so proud to share here.

Thank you so much for coming and talking to us about the neuroscience of stuttering. I really enjoyed how your talk with us was so different than the other ones we have had. Nobody really talks about stuttering and the science behind it, so I thought it was really interesting. I never realized how low the statistics were of developing a stutter and not growing out of it. It really interested me how women are so much less common to stutter than men. I really wonder why. I really would like to say that the confidence you have when speaking is really something noticeable and powerful. The fact that you don’t care as much about what people think of you is really something important. Thank you so much again!

Thank you so much for coming and talking to us on Friday.  It was really interesting and illuminating to see stuttering from the perspective of someone who stutters and then to see the neuroscience behind it as well.  I never really thought of stuttering as being so stigmatized before, but after your talk, I realized how bad the media makes it seem. Now being aware of that will make me more able to communicate with someone with a stutter or even someone who has something similar.  The key to being able to better communicate with people from all different backgrounds starts with making an effort to understand those backgrounds and treating them as you would anyone else. Thanks again for taking the time talk to us.

Thank you so much – and I mean it – for coming in to talk about stuttering and the problems or lack thereof associated with it. I was able to relate with what you said even though I myself don’t have a stutter, and it’s nice to see someone so confident and well-spoken talk about something I relate to so much. Although the science was interesting as well, I will say just you talking about your experiences and how stuttering affects your everyday life was my favorite part of the rotation.

 

 

He-StuttersEpisode 26 of this occasional male series features Andy Fitzenrider who hails from Seattle, Washington. Andy has worked for eighteen years in the Identification Unit of the Seattle Police Department.

Listen in as Andy shares about some of his speech therapy experiences and why he was drawn to engage in therapy as an adult. He talks about “wishing he knew back then what he knows now.”

We also talk extensively about a program that Andy uses and has done outreach for called Speech to Speech. This is a service that anyone with a speech disorder can use. A live “Communication Assistant” answers your call and you let the person know where you wish to call. The assistant will stay on the line with you and repeat as much or as little of your speech as you would like to the person you are calling. The assistant may explain at the call onset that you are a person who stutters and then not say anything else, if that’s all you want or need.

Andy says this service has brought him peace of mind and has helped him to not fear the phone as he once did. The service is free for anyone to use and any carrier will work. See below video for more information.

Music used in today’s episode is credited to DanoSongs.

 

PamEpisode 188 features Sarah Albannay, who hails from Kuwait, but is presently living in Pocatello, Idaho while attending college. Sarah has been in the USA for four years now, and is studying Political Science. She says she’ll know what to do with her degree when she’s done.

We had a really interesting conversation. Sarah finds it so much easier to stutter here in the USA. Americans are so much more open about personal issues than she finds people to be at home in Kuwait. She feels quite comfortable advertising that she stutters with classmates and professors here. Sarah says she was a totally different person in Kuwait. (You’ll have to listen to hear her explain that!)

Sarah feels there is so much support here in the USA. She’s found the NSA and good stuttering therapy which has included participation in “intensive stuttering programs.”  Sarah wanted to be sure she gave a shout out to Dan Hudock, the professor at Idaho State University that has really helped her see stuttering differently.

See below for a one minute look at what Professor Hudock is doing at ISU. I also included a fantastic Tedx Talk that Dan did about stuttering. Couldn’t resist – had to include it.

 

 

The music used in todays episode is credited as always to ccMixter.

 

 

 

 

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 180 features Petra Ammerlaan who hails from Dreischor, The Netherlands. Petra has been a nurse caring for the elderly for 28 years. She is married to a very supportive husband who never cared that she stutters.

Petra got into nursing because she always liked taking care of people. She works mostly with people at the end of their lives and treasures the stories they tell.  Patients have never cared about her stuttering, but it’s sometimes been a different story with bosses and coworkers!

Listen in Petra shares about being covert for a long time, still trying to hide it sometimes. “Being yourself is often hard with a stutter.”  We also talk about speech therapy experiences, being around those who love and care about us, and the importance of taking baby steps on our journey with stuttering.

We also chat about the Facebook group Stuttering Community and Petra’s recent leap of courage to record and post a video to the group, for the first time.

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

PamEpisode 176 features Lisa Wilder, who hails from Toronto, Canada. Lisa has been involved with the Canadian Stuttering Association for about 11 years. She prefers behind the scenes work and thus enjoys serving as the webmaster for the CSA.

Listen in as we discuss the goals and vision of the Canadian Stuttering Association, it’s annual conference held in October and how the CSA is essentially a labor of love for those involved.

We also discuss speech therapy, keeping up on research and new ideas in the field of therapy, and how change in attitude and mindset is often more of a game changer than actually focusing on speech strategies.

We also talk about the importance of not caring so much about what other people may think about your speech and looking at options if you think stuttering is holding you back.

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

 

PamEpisode 165 features Emily Purkey who hails from Portland, Oregon. Emily is 17 years old and a senior in high school. She is applying to colleges and plans to create her own major. Emily is actively involved in leadership activities in school and is passionate about raising awareness about stuttering.

Listen in as we talk about experiences with speech therapy, the importance of working on confidence, and Emily’s involvement in several stuttering associations. She talks about The Stuttering Association for the Young, or SAY and the National Stuttering Association or NSA. SAY helped Emily find her way and changed her life.

We also discuss the importance of finding community, stepping out of your comfort zone and the value of your voice. Below you can see Emily’s TED Talk, which she delivered in April of this year. Talk about stepping out of your comfort zone!

Music used in today’s show is credited to ccMixter.

 

PamEpisode 159 features Jaime Habing, who hails from Westerville, Ohio. Jaime is married to Andy and has three wonderful kids, Kerrigan, Jameson and Finn. Jaime is a registered nurse and currently works in a plastic surgery doctor’s office.

Listen in as Jaime tells parts of her story, from initially studying communication and journalism to eventually choosing nursing. We talk about how challenging nursing school is, and that she had teachers along the way who asked her if she was sure she was making the right choice, because of her stuttering.

We also speak about moments of shame and turning points for Jaime in her journey with stuttering, which were her first National Stuttering Association conference in Cleveland in 2010 and attending intensive therapy last year at the American Institute for Stuttering. Jaime shares that the more she talks about stuttering, the better she feels about herself.

And Jaime shares the very personal story about having an accident that has left her chin and bottom lip permanently numb. That coupled with stuttering certainly brings challenges. We wrap up this fantastic episode talking about Jaime’s 3 kids and their understanding of mom’s stuttering.

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

 

 

PamEpisode 150 features Jia Bin, who hails from China. She is currently living in Michigan in the U.S. while studying for her Master’s degree in secondary education. Jia taught English in China for 9 years, and is currently teaching Chinese here in the U.S. to high school students.

Listen in as Jia describes why she wanted to come to the U.S. She was looking for a way out and thought she’d find the answers to stuttering in the U.S.

We have a fascinating conversation about the cultural differences between China and the U.S. Jia describes China as a “culture of shame” where it comes to being different. In China, it’s all about being the same. Differences are shameful and shame is hidden in China.

We also have a rich discussion about covert stuttering, finding support through the National Stuttering Association and stuttering with confidence. We also talk about Jia’s speech therapy experiences and the huge emotional attachment that stuttering really is. She talks of carrying her country on her back when she talks.

This was a great conversation that could have gone on for hours. Feel free to leave comments or questions.

The music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

PamEpisode 141 features McKenna Rankin who hails from Dallas, Texas. McKenna is 26 years old and is currently studying for her National Counseling Exam. She will then be credentialed as a Licensed Professional Counselor. McKenna plans to be a mental health counselor and is interested in working with children.

Listen in as McKenna shares her journey with stuttering. She has found she has had to educate mental health counselors about stuttering, many who believe stuttering is anxiety based. It is exciting that McKenna is going into a field that she will be able to dispel a lot of myths about stuttering.

We also talk about a rock bottom moment that McKenna had when interviewing for grad school, where an interviewer asked her if she really thought she could be a counselor with her stuttering. This was the first roadblock McKenna saw to doing what she really wanted to do.

This propelled her to enroll in the Successful Stuttering Management Program (SSMP.) She says that was a life changing experience. She no longer shuts down because of stuttering.

We also discuss how stuttering helps her to have more empathy with clients and she thinks that will be an asset in her counseling practice.

The podcast safe music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter. Feel free to leave comments for McKenna.


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