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About twenty people joined us last Monday evening for our August chapter meeting. We had several newcomers — it’s always great to have a different perspective in our discussion! Thank you to everyone who made it out for the first time. We know how big of a step that can be.

After we read the opening words and introduced ourselves, co-leader David opened up the floor for anyone who had something on their mind. One member started us off by asking us to define the purpose of our meetings, and of self-help in general. Several answers were thrown around: We show up because we want to meet other people who stutter, we want to speak freely, and we hope to share some feelings about this life experience that are hard to express.

He also suggested that we don’t talk too much about the actual physical stuttering that we experience (a statement that a few people challenged), and that when we do stutter or “block” in the room, we tend not to address it specifically. We talked a little about why addressing those moments can be challenging for us, and what we might be able to get out of sharing our individual physical experiences of stuttering.

Another person brought up what it was like to stutter growing up — he was often placed in lower-level classes simply because he spoke with a stutter. We were all frustrated to hear about that experience, and we talked some about how we can better educate teachers and school speech therapists about stuttering. We also explored the topic of self-advocacy in the school setting, and whether we feel comfortable asking for accommodations in the classroom.

It was great to spend a Monday evening having such a lively discussion about stuttering, our community, and what we can do to fight stigma for people without a support network. We hope to see you all next month, on Monday, September 12th! The Midtown Manhattan meeting is happening tomorrow night at 7:30, so check them out if you’re interested: Aspire Center for Health & Wellness, 248 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001. It’s a bigger group, and most of us usually have a few drinks afterwards.

Finally, as summer comes to an end, stay tuned for more info on our Stuttering Pride March and an initiative to educate HR professionals in New York about stuttering!

— Emma, David, Chris, and Roisin