The intense rain and flash flood warnings didn’t keep 16 determined folks from coming to our meeting on Monday night. We had a fair share of wet socks, squeaky sneakers and messy hair, which made for good jokes and lots of laughter. We split into 3 groups for connecting conversation and heartfelt talk. Here’s a glimpse into some of our conversations:
A Safe Place
One person shared how he appreciates the safe space the NSA meetings provide because it gives him opportunities to share his innermost thoughts and feelings about stuttering. This opened a conversation about why people come back month after month despite doing well at work, socially and otherwise. Most agreed it is refreshing to come to a place where others “get it”; a place where they feel free to be themselves, vent frustrations, share struggles and celebrate victories. We talked about how we always feel replenished when leaving the meeting and how it’s a highlight of our month.
Stuttering, Minorities and Disabilities
The topic of kinship and relating to minority populations and individuals with disabilities had the room abuzz with conversation. One member said he felt a deep connection to people who are deaf since they too struggle with communication. Another member shared how stuttering opened his connection to minority populations, whom he now represents at work. Members expressed gratitude for having opportunities to connect with wonderful people they otherwise would not relate to, if not for their stutter.
“ Does stuttering shape one’s personality?” This question arose when someone shared how he struggles to be assertive and believes it is because of his stutter. Some members shared this sentiment while others said stuttering pushed them to become more assertive, bold, and even daring. However, even those who felt empowered by their stuttering agreed that stuttering strongly impacts one’s personality and can shape them for better or worse.
Stuttering and Relationships
We talked about how stuttering and relationships can be tricky. Some people shared that their friends and families didn’t understand them and put them in uncomfortable positions (i.e. handing them the phone to talk.) Others shared that, although not innate to understanding the struggle, their spouses or close friends put in an effort to empathize and understand them. This led to a great conversation about communication, intentionality and the willingness to be vulnerable. It reminded us of how letting our loved one’s know how to respond to our stuttering can prove to be incredibly helpful and liberating.
Keeping it Simple
We talked about the complexities of stuttering and ways to keep it simple. Complexities included stuttering being something we cannot hide, stuttering being an isolating experience, and being misunderstood by people who don’t know what stuttering is. Things like transparency, not taking things personally, and choosing to educate people about stuttering were discussed as ways to simplify these complexities. This led to several members sharing how when they took the opportunity to share with others about their stuttering, it often turned out to be a positive experience for all parties involved.
Join us for our next meeting this Monday, July 17th from 7:30-9:00 at A.R.T./New York, Third floor, Studio B. Because of the location policy, please arrive a couple minutes early with a photo I.D.
We hope to see you there!
We met on Monday night for our last meeting at Aspire Center with a mixture of sadness and great appreciation. We spent the first few minutes expressing gratitude to Diane Brown, a true friend and wonderful SLP at Aspire who made it all possible, and then shifted to our regular sharing. With a nice turnout of 23 individuals, including 2 first timers and 5 SLP’s, we broke up into 3 groups for individualized sharing. Here is some of what we discussed:
Techniques Under Fire
We spoke about how techniques work in the therapy room but often don’t transfer to real life. Members shared how frustrating this experience can be and how it can increase feelings of worthlessness and self-blame. This led to a conversation about negative and positive therapy experiences, as well as the benefits of attending support groups.
The Positive Side of Stuttering
This topic was brought up when one member said he would not take a magic pill to cure his stutter. He agreed that living with a stutter is difficult, but appreciated how it built his character. This sparked a great talk about the positive outcomes that resulted from stuttering including building real connections, increasing empathy, and increasing confidence.
Advertise Your Stutter?
The idea of advertising was discussed, including the benefits of using it even when we are speaking fluently. This opened the conversation about how advertising may initially make you feel uncomfortable, however the long-term benefits include feeling comfortable across many different contexts, which is invaluable.
Members discussed the complex feelings that accompany stuttering, specifically when speaking publicly. Two individuals who taught classes on the graduate level shared the ups and downs of the experience. This led to a great conversation about how emotions impact how we feel about ourselves, and impact our perception of what we think others think about us (Phew!)
We discussed whether maintaining eye contact helps build an emotional connection with our listeners when speaking. Most agreed. However, one member said he doesn’t like maintaining eye contact because then he notices when the speaker looks away. Someone else said that he used to like it when people looked away. This highlights how our own interpretation of what other people mean when they interact with us can be important.
Stuttering in Different Contexts
We compared notes about stuttering in different contexts and the difficulties that arise accordingly. We touched on the difficulties of maintaining sufficient oxygen when stuttering while walking, and the difficulties that arise while trying to eat gracefully and talk. We talked about whether we stutter when we talk to our pets, ourselves and when making an audio recording. The way we speak differently under different circumstances is very interesting indeed.
Till next month friends,
The Midtown Co-Leaders
Following our successful first meeting of the month, we held our second meeting last Monday night. It was a small but vibrant crowd with 18 people in attendance, including 2 SLP’s and 2 newcomers. We split into two groups for more personalized conversation. Here is some of what we discussed:
The important and relevant topic of job interviews was brought up and discussed. Members shared their stresses and anxieties related to interviews, and especially how stuttering played a role in increasing those anxieties. Sympathies first, then ideas were exchanged on ways to navigate the interview process. Members supported one another with ideas such as advertising, working on positive self-image, and challenging ones self, despite the outcome.
Several members talked about how, especially when they were younger, their parents misunderstood stuttering and treated them poorly because of it. They shared how their families looked at stuttering with shame and struggled to accept them because of their stutter. Members agreed that most of the time parents and family members were uneducated about the disorder, and though hurt, were willing to move past that because they understood the vast gap between the knowledge they had and the knowledge about what stuttering actually is.
Taking the Reigns back
The topic of not letting stuttering take control of your life came up when one member said he didn’t want to let stuttering control his decisions anymore. A wise and caring member reflected on the times he let stuttering hold him back, and how in recent years he’s been much happier because he made choices to do what he wanted, despite his stutter. This opened up a conversation about other times group members made choices to do what they wanted regardless of their stutter, and how doing so often left them empowered and ready to tackle new hurdles.
The Acceptance Continuum
The question about fully accepting ones’ stuttering was asked by a curious and inquisitive member who attended our meeting for the first time. This opened up an insightful and heartfelt conversation of what acceptance truly is. Members discussed how acceptance is more of a journey than a destination, often something that moves along a continuum; something that it is not measured by physical outcomes, but rather by inner peace and joy.
Holiday Party: We will be having our annual holiday party on Saturday night, December 10th, at Juniper Bar from 8:00-11:00. Bring along your holiday spirit and get ready to have some fun!
Brooklyn Group: The next Brooklyn chapter meeting will be on Monday, December 12th. Check out their site here for more information.
Getting Involved: We are always looking for new ways to expand our chapter. If you have an idea that you’d like to share, or would like to get involved, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!
After several months of increased interest from SLP’s (Speech-Language Pathologists) and SLP’s in training to join our meetings, we held our first-ever second meeting of the month. The meeting was geared towards opening the dialogue between professionals in the field and People Who Stutter. This included asking and answering important questions, exchanging stories and ideas, and sharing resources. There was a high turnout, with 30 people in attendance, including 15 professionals, and 15 People Who Stutter.
Two outstanding chapter members, Chani Markel and Hector Perez, facilitated the meeting. They started the night by sharing their stories, after which they handed out index cards for the SLP’s to ask questions to the people in the group who stuttered. The questions included finding out about the effectiveness of stuttering therapy, the hereditary components of stuttering, the role of acceptance in stuttering, and the role the NSA plays in a Person Who Stutters life. Each question was followed by an interactive and engaging conversation, during which new and old thoughts, sentiments, and ideas were shared.
The topic of education and advocacy came up several times throughout the night, and the importance of them was discussed from the perspective of the PWS’s and the SLP. We especially talked about the tremendous opportunity SLP’s have to educate the public and advocate for PWS. We shared the websites of support organizations, including the National Stuttering Association, FRIENDS: National Association for Young People Who Stutter, and SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young. Other resources, such as the Stuttertalk podcast, stuttering therapy resources, and The Stuttering Foundation’s website were shared as well.
The meeting ended in high spirits, with lots of gratitude and eager anticipation for more meetings to come. Several people headed over to Juniper’s to share a few more good laughs and connecting moments before returning to the hustle and bustle of the week ahead.
We are always looking for new ways to expand our horizons as a chapter. If you have any ideas that could move our chapter forward, please reach out to us and share at email@example.com. We are excited to hear them!
Last Monday night, we said good-bye to spring and welcomed in summer with some of New York City’s finest. There were 22 of us in total: 20 People Who Stutter, including three newcomers (welcome!) and two SLP graduate students. Our group split into two, after which we engaged in stimulating and inspiring conversation. Here is some of what we discussed:
We spoke about the pros and cons of advertising, letting people know that you stutter. One member shared that he was on the fence about advertising during an upcoming presentation that had the potential to land him a job because he was concerned that he would be hired out of pity rather than being recognized for his hard work and accomplishments. This led to a great conversation about the courage it takes to advertise, and how in most cases, advertising is looked at as a strength, not as a weakness.
Getting Out of Our heads
This segued to another very prevalent topic, how we often worry too much about what other people may be thinking about us when we stutter. We had a good laugh when one member shared that his longtime friend had no idea that he stuttered, despite him thinking that his stutter was the most obvious thing in the world. It confirmed for us that most of the time other people are wrapped up in their own thoughts and worries, and that we can let go of the self-imposed pressure to speak fluently.
Did someone mention the subway challenge? Oh yes they did! When talking about overcoming fears and challenging ourselves to grow, a member shared how he broke through barriers by advertising his stuttering on the subway to group of complete strangers. He did this exercise while participating in the American Institute for Stuttering’s summer intensive program, and absolutely loved it. He was so brave he even did it twice! This got us talking about the times we’ve pushed ourselves and how facing challenges gives us that “on top of the world” feeling that only comes from taking risks and facing our fears.
The idea of authenticity came up, and what that meant to us. For some people that meant stuttering openly. For other people that meant sometimes being perceived as being ‘nice’, a characteristic a couple of members agreed to be a weak compliment when the depths of our personality are misunderstood by some. One member discussed the importance of examining our own self, and what authenticity means beyond stuttering openly or not. Are people who stutter usually the empathic type? Are we generally sensitive? These were some of the questions raised, which followed with more conversation and lots of food for thought.
Our Chapter and Beyond
We discussed, as People Who Stutter, what we want in our support groups, and what we want in our organization as a whole. One member brought up the recent StutterTalk episode, The Future of the National Stuttering Association with Dr. Gerald Maguire (Ep. 578) , with the National Stuttering Associations’ new Chairman, which is definitely worth a listen. With the idea of our organization focusing on medical research brought up, one member said that he would definitely take the pill if given the opportunity. Other members agreed that what we are doing now, coming together and sharing ideas that can lead to important actions and changes for our community as a whole, is what was important to them. If you are reading this recap, share your thoughts with us! We would love to hear them.
Upcoming NSA Conference
If you want to meet close to 1000 people who stutter and have an experience of a lifetime, join the NSA’s Annual conference in Atlanta, GA this July 4rth weekend. Registration is still open. Click here to find out more.
NYC Initiative: Educating Human Resources
In the spirit of educating the public and ensuring equal rights for people who stutter, a member at the Brooklyn chapter brought up the idea of approaching the mayor’s office with a plan to educate human resources departments in New York City about stuttering. Are you interested in being part of this initiative? If so, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll keep you informed of what to expect next!
Let’s get involved
We are always looking for new ways to make our chapter better, spread stuttering awareness, and empower people who stutter. Please share with us if you have an idea or initiative that you think could make a difference in our community. Email us at email@example.com or stop in to our next meeting, July 18th.