Meetings online have become our normal way to meet now and this is showing on the attendees we have been having. On our last meeting we welcomed a new member. At this meeting we had 3 new members!
We spent time introducing ourselves and getting to know our new members. As always, new topics develop as we talk. This time we talked a lot about shame. We agreed that no matter how accepting we are of our stuttering, the feeling of shame never leaves us completely. Sometimes is worse with strangers because we feel pressure to make a good first impression. But other times is worse when we stutter in front of friends and family because we feel we are disappointing our loved ones.
We realized that we don’t have to prove anything to anyone except to ourselves. One person mentioned that he made a lot of progress on his fluency when he realized that he was his only audience. If the talked just focusing on himself as his audience, he could forget everybody else. We don’t usually stutter when we talked to ourselves. So he too pretended that he was talking to himself when talking to others.
We also talked about shaking things up and practicing being uncomfortable. You can create situations that are uncommon as a way to practice to deal with them. That way when something unexpected happens that is beyond your control, you can react to it better.
Lastly, we talked about interviewing for a job and difficult it is now that a lot of the conversations are over the phone or on a video call.
We finished with the closing words. It was great to meet our new members!
After the Welcoming Words we introduced ourselves since we have a new member attend. A few of us shared that we have noticed an increase on our stutter recently. We wondered if the lack of socializing due to the coronavirus lock down restrictions has had an impact. Is it the lack of practice? is it that we are talking more on the phone and less person-to-person?
One of our members has graduated from college and is looking for a job. We talked about interviewing and whether he is planning to advertise his stutter to potential employers. He is very comfortable doing that and he does plan to let them know. We talked about how to advertise in other situations too.
One of our members was teaching a class about stuttering in the graduate program of Salus University. A few of us participated last month on one of his class projects in which his students interviewed us individually to learn more about stuttering. The sessions were short but we were able to provide a lot of information to the students.
A reminder to everyone about the upcoming NSA @Home Conference.
We continue with our virtual Zoom meetings and it is still not clear when we will be able to resume in person meetings. But everyone has been enjoying the virtual calls. We are seeing chapter members that have not been able to join us in a long time due to the distance or schedule conflicsts.
We took a poll on whether coffee affects our stuttering and the results were mixed. It does to some of us and it doesn’t to others.
We also talked about whether we introduce ourselves and say our name when we make a phone call. I always say it at the beginning but other don’t to say their name if they don’t have to.
We talked about the recent NSA Lounge meetings on Friday nights. They have been a lot of fun. We played online games, karaoke, or just chill in a chat room and make friends with other NSAers from around the country. Going forward, the NSA Lounge will be held the last Friday of the month. Stay tuned for the schedule and the link!
Last Tuesday, members from the Philadelphia, South Jersey and Atlantic chapters participated in the Panel of People Who Stutter at La Salle University. This panel is part of the curriculum for the Speech Language Pathologist Graduate Program. It is a great opportunity for us to educate future SLPs on what it means to be a person who stutters.
This year the panel took place online but it was as fun and engaging as it ever was in person. The students had a lot of questions and we ran out of time to answer more.
I received the following message from the professor, Dr James Mancinelli:
“The students are still raving about the panel experience. Their comments include praise for the panel members’ courage and growth that developed through self-help groups like yours. They now see how a self-help model like the NSA’s facilitates social involvement, communicative confidence, and authenticity among its members. One student commented, “The panel brought it all together for me. Now I get it.” They have been listening to me blab on since January but it wasn’t until the panel experience did they connect stuttering with real people living real lives.
On a personal note, I want to thank you for your flexibility and willingness to participate in the clinical education of our students. The benefits they reaped are immeasurable.”
Thank you very much to Katherine Filer, Maria Turner, Jim McFarlane, Mykia Daniels and Nick Bruno for sharing their experiences and feelings with the students. We hope that activities like this will help broaden their understanding about stuttering and make them better clinicians.
This was our third online meeting and it was another fun event.
We were joined by Tammy Flores, the NSA Executive Director and Mandy Finstad, the NSA Projects Director. They gave us an update on steps the NSA is taking to keep everyone involved and engaged through online meetings.
We talked about how Covid-19 stay-at-home mandate is affecting all of us. In particular, we talked about the impact of having to talk through a mask when we go outside. The mask makes difficult to see people’s expressions. If the listeners cannot see us blocking, how do they know we are having difficulty speaking? For some of us, wearing the mask makes it easier to talk, while others think it is harder. Sometimes it feels like we are shouting through the mask.
There are students in our group that are taking lessons online. However, internships, clinical rotations and other activities that requiring in-person interactions cannot take place.
We were relieved to learn that family members of one of our attendees had fully recovered from Covid-19.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those that are suffering the physical or economic effect of the coronavirus. We hope that we can return to the new normal very soon safe and sound.