Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘women SLPs 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.

Episode 203 features Maryann Nelson, who hails from Spartanburg, South Carolina. Maryann is a Speech Language Pathologist who works in the schools. In high school, she wanted to become a SLP but didn’t think she could due to stuttering. It wasn’t until she found the National Stuttering Association (NSA) did she learn that it was possible.

Maryann is a leader for a family chapter of the NSA and is also very active in her church. For the last 3-4 years, she has spoken at the SC state speech and hearing association annual conference and has found much success there. She has facilitated highly attended sessions and realizes how hungry SLPs are for knowledge and information about stuttering. Maryann has been with the NSA for twelve years now and has not yet done a workshop there. She aspires to lead one in 2020.

Listen in as we discuss shame, self worth and feeling beautiful in our skin. Maryann says she felt like she was “boxed in” based on an employer’s perception of her stuttering. She grew to learn that you, we, can choose to live outside of that box. We wrap up by sharing that we have to keep talking about stuttering and moving forward.

Music used in today’s episode is credited 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.

PamEpisode 163 features Chani Markel, who hails from Teaneck, New Jersey. Chani just moved to NYC for a new job as a school-based speech language pathologist (SLP) with the NYC public schools. Chani also keeps busy with yoga and writing.

Listen in as we discuss the transformative experience Chani had with therapy which she sought out on her own when she was a senior in high school. This experience led her to pursue a career in speech language pathology.

We talk about the National Stuttering Association and the impact it has had on her life. The NSA has helped her both personally and professionally.

Chani also shares about her experience with starting a writing group, that combines writing about stuttering, communication and identity.

Chani offers words of wisdom for anyone who stutters thinking about becoming a SLP and offers to talk with anyone who’d like to explore this with her.

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


PamEpisode 143 features Samantha Temme-Raberding, who hails from Toledo, Ohio, where she lives with her husband and one “fur-child.” Samantha is a SLP, currently working in a skilled nursing home.

Listen in as Samantha shares how she chose her profession and acknowledges that she considered careers that would require the least amount of communication. Samantha also discusses her years of avoidance and the anxieties and fears that had to be later undone.

The majority of this episode focuses on Samantha’s journey toward becoming a SLP and the lack of support and even negativity she faced in graduate school because she stutters. She chose speech pathology because she thought she’d be more accepted than other careers, but found that not to be the case.

Samantha shares that it was “highly suggested” that she participate in intensive therapy while in grad school, which interfered with her clinical work. Comments were made to her such as, “It’s a shame this career requires so much talking. Have you ever thought of going the research route?”

She was also told that her disfluency would take away time needed to spend with clients, and that she ranked in the top 5 of most severe stutterers a professor had ever heard.

Samantha’s story of perseverance is compelling and inspiring. She wants to shout out Marilee Fini who was an amazing mentor and support through her grad school experience.

The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

PamEpisode 131 features Vanna Nicks, who hails from Piedmont, California. Vanna is a busy mother of two and also works full-time as a speech pathologist in a trauma center at an acute hospital in Oakland.

Vanna always wanted to be a SLP but didn’t have the confidence. She moved to Washington DC and found Vivian Sisskin’s avoidance reduction therapy group. There, she found the self-confidence to go back to school to become a SLP.

Vanna learned through avoidance reduction that she had the right to speak whenever she wanted and that she became more fluent when she stuttered openly. She learned to be truly honest with her self and others.

Listen in as we discuss advertising, workplace stuttering, being approachable, developing rich relationships and so much more.

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

Producer note: As I played back this episode, there are parts where it sounds like I spoke over Vanna. I certainly didn’t mean to and I don’t remember doing that when we spoke. I wondered (aloud) if it was an audio glitch that I don’t know how to correct. Maybe – maybe not. Either way, enjoy the episode. 🙂


Episode 116 features Sara MacIntyre who hails from Philadelphia, PA and presently lives in Brooklyn, New York. Sara is a SLP working with people who stutter at the American Institute for Stuttering (AIS) in NYC.

Sara was extremely covert about her stuttering for a long time and decided in her senior year of college that she needed a change. She describes a conversation with her parents where she disclosed that she still stutters.

It was then that Sara and her mom searched around for quality therapy and Sara found and decided to do a three-week intensive therapy at the AIS.

Listen in as we talk about meeting other people who stutter for the first time and a little bit about the therapy program at AIS. Sara also talks about her “stuttering closet,” giving herself a “free pass” at times and being kind to herself, and how she came to work as a SLP at AIS.

This was a great conversation and it was so nice getting to know Sara. Feel free to leave comments or questions below. Feedback is a gift.

The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.




Episode 95 features Caitlyn McSally, who grew up in Monroe, Connecticut and went to undergraduate school in New Paltz, New York, about an hour and half from where I live.

Caitlyn is currently in Columbia, South Carolina, studying for her Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. When asked why she chose this field, Caitlyn shares it wasn’t because of her speech, like one might think.

When Caitlyn was deciding on college and careers, she didn’t knew she stuttered. She recalls first “hearing herself stutter” about two years ago.

She shares her boyfriend’s response, “Wow, I bet you couldn’t do that again if you tried,” which Caitlyn thought was a great way to address the “odd” thing that had just happened.

Listen in as we discuss Caitlyn’s unique journey, her current therapy experience, covert behaviors, pet peeves and what’s important to her about stuttering.

This was a great conversation. Please leave feedback for Caitlyn in the comment section. Remember, feedback is a gift.

Music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

Episode 90 features Briana Pipkin who was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Briana is 21 years old and currently a senior at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. She is studying to become a speech language pathologist.

Briana decided to study speech language pathology after ruling out other career paths and remembering a positive experience she had as a child.

Listen in as we discuss stuttering choices, disclosure and fear of judgment.

We also discuss covert stuttering as it relates to choices and the responsibility of educating others so they know how to respond. We also talk about the rise of on-line stuttering forums and support groups.

Feel free to leave comments for either Briana or me in the below comment section.

The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

Episode 80 features return guest Elaine Robin, who hails from Seattle, Washington. For this great episode, Elaine shares from her present location, which is Shanghai, China. Elaine is a SLP who stutters and first shared her story here in episode 43.

I was excited to have Elaine back on the show, to tell us about her experiences living in China. An opportunity became available for Elaine to work in Shanghai for a year at a speech clinic. Elaine shares with us the excitement and culture shock of moving to, and living in, a very different part of the world.

We talk about stuttering, of course, but also about the fascinating perspective of an American who does not speak Chinese trying to navigate in a new country. We talk about the Chinese educational system, how disabilities are viewed and handled and the stark differences between Eastern and Western cultures.

Elaine also had the opportunity to travel to India at the end of December 2011. She had planned a visit to India while in Asia anyway, and had the unique opportunity to visit and attend the first ever Indian National Conference for people who stutter. The conference was organized and hosted by The Indian Stammering Association.

Listen in as Elaine describes the profound moments she experienced as a small group came together to celebrate, learn and support each other about stuttering. We discuss advertising, acceptance, self-help and pushing out of comfort zones.

Elaine also shares the very personal insights she learned about facing fears, taking chances and what she has learned about herself.

Please leave feedback here in the comment section. We would love to hear from you.

Music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

(Also, note there may be a couple of editing errors in the audio. Sue me – I do the best I can!)

Episode 68 features Lisa Bennett, who hails from Wichita, Kansas. Lisa is 29 years old and graduated from Wichita State University in 2010. She is currently in her Clinical Fellowship Year as a SLP in the Emporia-area. She works in the public school coop there.

Lisa and I had “met” online through one of the stuttering email chat groups several years ago. We met in person at the 2009 NSA conference in Scottsdale, AZ. I didn’t realize that Lisa had attended the first workshop I ever did at NSA, back in 2008 in New Jersey.

Lisa mentions that she remembers some things I had said during that workshop, “Letting It All Hang Out: Being REAL With Our Stuttering.” My friend Mary and I had co-facilitated that workshop, which examined some parallels between The Velveteen Rabbit and stuttering. Needless to say, I was thrilled to learn that it had an impact on Lisa.

Listen in as we discuss covert stuttering and how Lisa landed in the job that she thought most unlikely – working as a SLP in the schools. We also discuss how stuttering can dictate decision-making, speech therapy experiences, authenticity and acceptance.

Lisa shares a major insight with us – which I just loved. She says towards the end of our conversation, “I don’t hate stuttering anymore.”

Lisa was nervous during this conversation, and I assured her she had no reason to be! Please, leave feedback for Lisa and let her know what a great job she did. Feedback is a gift.

Music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

Episode 64 features Christine Dits, who hails from South Bend, Indiana. Christine is 22 years old, and just recently graduated from St. Mary’s College with her undergraduate degree in speech pathology.

She is looking to work in the special education field,while applying to graduate schools in the Mid-west. She wants to pursue her Master’s degree so she can one day practice as a licensed speech therapist. She has recently accepted a job as a speech therapy assistant.

I first met Christine when she was a student volunteer at the 2010 FRIENDS convention in Chicago. She attended her first NSA conference in 2010 as well, in Cleveland. We did not meet at that NSA conference, as sometimes happens when there are hundreds of participants!

Christine attended her second NSA conference this year, which was held last month in Ft Worth, Texas. In this episode, Christine talks about what her first time experience was like, and compares it to her second experience, where she felt much more comfortable and eager to meet new friends.

Listen in as we also talk about Christine’s therapy experiences, which did not start for her until towards the end of high school. We also discuss being a “twenty-something” who stutters, and what “recovery from stuttering” means for Christine.

Credit for the podcast safe music used in this episode goes to ccMixter. Feel free to leave comments or questions for either of us. Feedback is a gift.

Episode 60 features Val Ostergaard, who hails from Cary, Illinois, which is northwest of Chicago. Val is 25 years old, graduated in May with her Masters degree in Speech Language Pathology from Illinois State University and will start a job as a school therapist in September.

This was a bit of a surprise to Val and her mom, as she always thought she was going to be a nurse. In her first year in college, she took an introduction to speech pathology course, and knew then that she was supposed to be a speech therapist.

Val is one of the original FRIENDS kids. She went to her first FRIENDS conference with her family when she was 13 years old.Val recalls being nervous and not really wanting to go, but her private therapist (Kristin Chmela) had recommended it and Val’s mom really wanted to go. The first conferences were only with 20 people and the evening activities were at someone’s home for a pool party.

Listen in as Val shares the unique perspective of having grown up with FRIENDS and seeing the organization grow and evolve into the national association it is now. Val shares how one year she and her brother actually chose a FRIENDS conference and gave up a promised trip to Disney World.

Val also shares how that same early conference in D.C. did not yet have a teen room for the kids to hang out together. She recalls all of the teens, girls and boys, hanging out in a large women’s bathroom at night, talking and playing card games.

We also discuss Val’s early speech therapy (a lot of it!), family involvement, sibling experience, courage, fears and worries about judgement.

I met Val at my first FRIENDS convention in 2008, and she has been an inspiration. Feel free to leave comments for Val or Pam. Feedback is a gift!

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

Episode 43 features Elaine Saitta, who hails from Seattle, Washington. She has been an active member of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) for many years. She has held several NSA positions such as Chapter Leader, Regional Chapter Coordinator, Board of Directors member, and Executive Director.

Elaine is a SLP in the Seattle school system and also works in private practice with children who stutter. She coordinates a teen support group as well as youth and adult workshops locally and nationally.

She believes in being open about her stuttering and educating others. But that wasn’t always the case! Like many people who stutter, Elaine was covert for a long time. Even though her stutter was mild, she was always very embarrassed and felt shame. She shares that she didn’t have the tools to talk about stuttering and her feelings.

Listen in as we talk about how and what changed for Elaine. Meeting other people who stutter had a profound affect on her perspective and her very sense of self. Elaine also shares  “the conversation”  she always wanted and needed to have with her dad. And she talks about the journey and how she arrived at acceptance.

We wrap up with how being more open to life’s experiences in general can broaden one’s life. I prompt her to share her recent solo journey to China and how letting go of fear enabled that. How powerful those four words are – letting go of fear!

Speaking of that, Elaine was recently featutred on NPR in Seattle to raise awareness on stuttering! Check it out here!

Feel free to leave comments or just let Elaine know what a great job she did. Feedback is a gift!

Credit for the music clip “Echoed” used in this episode goes to ccMixter.

Episode 34 features Patrice Nolan, who hails from Bennington, Vermont. Patrice and I have been good friends since meeting at a NSA conference several years ago. We realized we only lived about an hour from each other, and have visited each other many times over the last several years.

Patrice has been a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) in the Vermont and Massachusetts schools for 33 years. She is also a certified teacher for the hearing impaired. Throughout her career as a SLP, she has kept her stuttering hidden. Until attending her first NSA conference, Patrice didn’t even realize what covert stuttering was, despite being in the speech field.

Join us as we discuss what Patrice refers to as her covert career and how she has managed to pull that off as a SLP. She shares honestly about how much energy she has spent on avoidance and rehearsal, her main techniques to appear fluent. We discuss how listening can be compromised when constantly rehearsing what she is going to say.

Patrice also shares about her first therapy experiences as an adult, which she refers to as “The Other Side of the Table.” And we discuss a TV program that Patrice loved as a kid. It may have been the first weekly television program that featured a regular character who stuttered, depicted positively.

This was a great conversation with a friend, who realized that it was not as hard as she thought to share her story. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions or just let Patrice know what a great job she did.

Credit for the podcast safe music clip “Echoed” goes to ccMixter.

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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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