Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘workplace stuttering

What goes through your head during that space between words when you are stuttering? You know what I mean, that often long pause that creates space between two words while you are having a block.

Is it something that you think about? I have. Not often because my blocks aren’t too long, but every once in a while I get one that seems long and definitely creates that space.

I often feel anxious, as it isn’t natural to have long pauses between words. Even when that is done intently by a speaker for emphasis, that space is often not as long as one created by a stutterer.

Sometimes I think to myself, “Oh no, not now.” Or I think, “What are they thinking?” I try to re-frame my thoughts and sometimes think, “Oh good, a moment to catch my breath.” Especially when I am presenting, I can use that space to compose myself and prepare for the fluent word that inevitably comes after the space.

Fluent people probably never give this a thought.

PamEpisode 156 features Elizabeth Wislar who hails from Chicago, IL and now lives in Athens, Georgia. Elizabeth is a teacher of students with disabilities, is mom to amazing daughter Clare and is really into fitness.

Elizabeth has been teaching for 17 years and prior to this year, had been in denial and covert about her stuttering. This year has been her coming out year, as you’ll learn from listening to her story. Knowing another teacher who stutters and asking her students to embrace disabilities was the catalyst Elizabeth needed to come out of the covert closet.

Listen is as Elizabeth talks about introducing her class to Nina G, a comedian who stutters and also has learning disabilities. Nina spoke to Elizabeth’s class via video and the class also used Nina’s book, “Once Upon An Accommodation.”

We also talk about the relief Elizabeth feels from finally being open about stuttering, her father’s stuttering and the concept of stuttering being a disability. Elizabeth is going to be a co-leader for a new NSA chapter in Athens and will be attending her first NSA conference this July.

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

 

This week is National Stuttering Awareness Week in the United States. It’s an opportunity for people who stutter to talk about stuttering to those who don’t, to educate and raise awareness.

There are many ways to advertise and promote stuttering awareness. Here are a few.

1. Consider wearing a stuttering awareness tee-shirt, wrist band or lapel pin to work or out in the community. If people ask about it, mention you stutter and take the opportunity to explain what it is and how it feels.

2. In your office, display posters or a coffee mug that says something about stuttering. (These items can be found in the store at the National Stuttering Association.)

3. Consider contacting a radio station and asking if you can make a public service announcement (PSA) about stuttering.

4. Read blog posts or articles or literature about stuttering to educate yourself more about stuttering. Great free resources are available at The Stuttering Foundation.

5. Stutter openly this week. If you are usually covert about stuttering, try to give yourself permission to stutter openly. Be open if people have questions about your speech.

This week I am speaking to a high school senior class that is specific to scientific research and public health. I will be addressing my personal experience with stuttering along with talking about the neural and genetic basis of stuttering. I have asked the class to read an article about stuttering research so we can discuss it during my presentation.

I have also submitted a brief article to my local newspaper about how important listening is when engaging with someone who stutters. I am hoping it will be published this week.

What will you do this week?

PamEpisode 145 features Bernice Gauci, who hails from the tiny Southern European island country of Malta. It is underneath Sicily, Italy.

Bernice is 24 years old and is a mental health nurse also studying for her Master’s degree in Family Studies. She is president of the newly formed Stuttering Association of Malta (SAM.)

Listen is as we discuss workplace stuttering and being open with colleagues. We also discuss how Bernice has reached her level of acceptance of stuttering. Her mom introduced her to a speech therapist who challenged her to think of stuttering as a gift. In fact, Bernice did a news interview on stuttering after the launch of SAM, where Bernice talks about how stuttering is indeed a gift. You can read this article here.

We also discuss the recent IFA Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, which Bernice attended. She talks about how she felt she was in a society for people who stutter, where she could just “stutter along.”

And we talk about the Stuttering Association of Malta, whose goals include having kid’s days and reaching out to parents. Bernice hopes that SAM will get more media coverage so that awareness of stuttering can be increased in Malta.

The podcast safe music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions, for feedback is a gift.

PamEpisode 144 features return guest Briana Pipkin who hails from Dallas, Texas. Briana is 24 years old, and is looking to transition in her work to become a classroom teaching assistant. She had been a speech therapist assistant but really wants to be in a classroom setting.

Briana was on the show three years ago and wanted to come back on so she could stutter more openly, something she’s been working on over the last several years.

Listen in as we talk about interview preparation, covert stuttering and advertising stuttering. This episode focuses a lot on the recent conference of the National Stuttering Association, and about an advertising workshop that Briana attended.

We also talk about work, feared stuttering situations and transitioning from covert to overt stuttering.

The podcast safe music used in this episode  is credited to ccMixter. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions, for feedback is a gift.

Last week, I had the opportunity to emcee an awards event at my school. I call it an opportunity because I try to seize every chance I get to do public speaking. I enjoy it, while many of my fluent colleagues hate it and avoid it all costs. My co-workers were glad that I was willing to do it.

I have had years of experience with public speaking, through my association with Toastmasters and no longer dread it like I once did when I was really covert and afraid to stutter openly. But I still get a little anxious, like anyone would. My adrenaline gets flowing because like anyone, I want to do the best that I can at events like these.

As a stutterer, my biggest challenge is reading names aloud and introducing people. That was to be my primary role as emcee at the awards event – introducing each person and keeping the ceremony moving and flowing.

I was anxious about saying people’s names – as I knew I would stutter on them. And stutter I did. Some with light, easy repetitions, a couple with blocks.

No one seemed to care, as the event was about celebrating success and I was just a cog in the wheel to make sure everything went smoothly. The people whose names I was calling were getting certificates of appreciation – that’s what they focused on.

But it bothered me. It always does when it comes to names. I feel getting a person’s name right is important. Our name is our identity and it’s important. I feel bad when I stutter on a name and it “doesn’t come out right.” I feel like pronouncing someone’s name correctly is a show of respect.

I always worry about this – perhaps needlessly, as like I said, no one seemed to be bothered by it except me. It’s important to me that people get my name right, so I think I should get their’s right too.

What about you? Do you find it difficult with people’s names? Just your own name? Do you place importance on getting someone’s name right?

I had a really great conversation this week with a colleague about stuttering. I was talking with a new staff member about a Google hangout I participated in with people from all over the world, and how much I enjoyed it. She asked me what was the topic and I said stuttering.

PamEpisode 135 features Ashley Marcinkiewicz, who hails from Clifton Park, NY. Ashley is currently a PhD student at the University of New Hampshire, where she is studying microbiology. As a PhD student, Ashley teaches biology courses. She also enjoys hiking and outdoors activities.

Listen in as we discuss what it’s been like teaching and how Ashley has handled advertising her stuttering. We also discuss techniques and tools Ashley uses for when she gives presentations.

We talk about speech therapy experiences, the importance of attitude in how we approach our stuttering and how stuttering can be used as a benefit.

We also discuss the importance of community and learning from others’ perspectives about stuttering.

This was a great conversation, full of honesty and humor. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions in the comment section.

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

PamEpisode 134 features Margaret Heffernan, who hails from Greeley, Colorado. Margaret is 20 years old and a senior at the University of Northern Colorado. She is studying theatrical design and technology with an emphasis in stage management.

We discuss the importance of communication in her work and how she “calls shows” as a stage manager. Margaret realizes that she can be a good communicator even if she’s not fluent.

Margaret’s dad also stutters. We discuss what it’s been like growing up with a family member who stutters, pushing herself through hard things, and not feeling so isolated.

Listen in as we also discuss entering adulthood, self-confidence, approaching job search and interviews, being open and turning a corner, and stuttering without fear. Margaret wrote a great piece describing her thoughts about stuttering, called “I Stutter and Some People Wear Glasses.”

This was a great, honest conversation about life transitions. The podcast safe music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

We all know the statistics. Only about 1% of the adult population stutters, so it’s common to not meet another person who stutters in our everyday lives.

I’ve talked to many people around the world who have shared that they have never met someone else who stutters, which may add to the isolation of stuttering.

I work in an organization that employs about 450 people, and I’ve met three other people who stutter through work. Statistically, that plays out as it should, but it seems strange that I’ve actually met all three of them. I don’t work directly with any of them but we have occasion to see and talk with each other.

They all happen to be men, which bears truth to the belief that there are 4 times as many men who stutter than women.

I have spoken about stuttering with two of the guys. In fact, one of them always asks me whenever I see him if I’ve done anything stuttering related recently. He’s referring to things he knows I’ve done in the past to raise awareness of stuttering, like organizing talks at local libraries and schools.

One person is a relatively new colleague that I see at least once monthly at meetings. I noticed that he stutters, but I didn’t go up to him and say, “hey, I stutter too,” I did that once with someone and it backfired. The person got offended and profusely denied he stuttered, even though to me it was quite obvious.

Everyone is at a different juncture with their stuttering journey and I don’t think it’s up to me to bring it up when I hear someone else stutter. But if this colleague approaches me and wants to discuss stuttering, I will gladly talk his ear off about it!

In an odd way, it feels good that I’ve met others who stutter in my workplace. Growing up, I never met anyone else who stuttered and always wondered if I was the only one.

It’s good to know I’m not the only one in the workplace.

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. 🙂

PamEpisode 127 features return guest Annie Bradberry who hails from Corona, California. Annie is the Executive Director of a non-profit physical fitness program for kids in schools called The 100 Mile Club.

Annie has been involved in the stuttering community for her entire adult life. She is the former Executive Director of the National Stuttering Association and is a current Stutter Social Hangout host.

In today’s conversation, we chat about the recent annual NSA conference and why Annie keeps going back. We discuss contributions to the stuttering community, increased confidence and being at our personal best.

We also talk about the great impact of being Stutter Social hosts, and how our bi-weekly hosting is now something we both very much look forward to. Annie talks about the power of social media and people meeting other people who stutter for the first time in video hangouts. We also discuss the added benefit of meeting people in person at the annual NSA conference that we’ve come to know through the hangouts.

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

 

He-StuttersEpisode 21 of the occasional male podcast series features Dylan Madeley, who hails from a suburb of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Dylan is a writer. He currently works as a copy editor for Auxiliary Magazine and is preparing to self publish his own novel. He is readying a Kickstarter campaign to secure a publishing budget.

Dylan’s book is an ambiguous-magic fantasy titled “The Gift-Knight’s Quest.” Check here to find out more about the book.

Dylan discusses his plans to advertise and promote his first book, which leads us to talk about advertising stuttering before public speaking events. Dylan plans to be more “out there” with his stuttering once he is published.

We also discuss his strategies for book readings and how performance anxiety really triggers his stuttering.

This was a great conversation. Dylan shares professionally about his writing and personally about his stuttering. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions.

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

 

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.

I was at a meeting earlier in the week to begin planning for an upcoming large event. There were about 10 people on the committee and we all did not know each other.

So, we did the round robin of introductions, with people saying their names and which building or department we worked in.

I shared my name and then started to say which building I was from, but blocked as I was saying the first word. The block lasted only about 5 seconds, but was long enough to be noticeable.

A woman across from me laughed and said, “what, did you forget where you work?”

Ah, we’ve all heard this or been asked the equally ridiculous “did you forget your name?”

I’ve been so good over the past few years in not letting this bother me as it once did, but on this day, it did. The woman who laughed is a special needs teacher.

I didn’t expect for someone who works with people with differences and disabilities to be so quick to laugh and make such an offensive comment. I expected her to be more sensitive and professional.

That’s what stung the most. The expectation that someone “in the know” would be the last person to laugh and be rude.

I shared this with some friends in a Facebook group and they asked me how I responded. I didn’t respond – I said nothing as I didn’t want to draw any attention to how embarrassed I felt.

I wish this stuff wouldn’t happen but it still does. I’m an adult who stutters. Imagine how a kid would feel if they had been laughed at like that.


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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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