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.
Sitting together and sharing from our hearts kept us warm last Monday night (that, and some heat too!) We connected with each other through genuine listening, authentic sharing and lots of laughter. There were 25 people in attendance, 24 People Who stutter, including 2 newcomers, and 1 Speech Language Pathologist. Here is some of what we discussed:
The Power of The Mind
This topic came up when a member shared how when he anticipated stuttering, his stuttering increased. We spoke about actions we could take to step into our power instead of allowing our thoughts to take charge. One member shared how planning a stuttering awareness day at her college was helping her feel more empowered. Another person shared how focusing on actively listening and being present in conversations helped her stutter less.
Fasten Your Seatbelts, It’s Going to Be a Bumpy Ride
When talking about the challenges of being a Person Who Stutters, one member compared his stuttering to a roller coaster ride. He described how sometimes his stuttering took him for a spin and wrecked his day when he least expected it. This led to a conversation about the unpredictability of stuttering and ways to manage the twists and turns. Ideas such as voluntary stuttering, advertising, and embracing the possibility of losing control were presented as successful ways to handle such circumstances.
Turning Challenge Into Opportunity
One of our members inspired us when he shared how he effectively handled a customer at work who was rude to him because of his stutter. Instead of taking it personally, he chose to advertise and voluntary stutter. The customer became appreciative, even apologetic, and thanked him for sharing. It was great reminder of how the right attitude and perspective can turn difficult moments into growing opportunities.
It’s All Part of The Process
We spoke about the value and importance of attending support group meetings as a way to become more accepting of our stuttering. Members agreed that feeling understood in a safe place allows us to process our experiences without judgment, and gain perspective on negative beliefs that may have festered for years. Appreciation and gratitude were expressed for our monthly meeting, as well as our budding stuttering community in New York City.
It was a treat to get to spend time with all you. We look forward to seeing you again next month.
Chaya | NSA Midtown Chapter Co-leaders