After a slow start, this was our first meeting of the year at Temple University. We had a newcomer and a couple of regulars.
We read the Welcoming Words and went through introductions and check-ins. The new member shared information about himself and we talked a lot about issues with phone conversations.
We watched the video of the last Democratic Townhall with Joe Biden in which a woman asked him for his advice to young people who stutter. You can watch it here:
It seemed clear to us that he stutters voluntarily in some key moments to make a point. This is something you don’t see frequently when famous people talk about their stutter while they talk fluently.
One key takeaway from what Joe Biden says is that you cannot let stuttering define you. We started talking about how this applies to each of us. Does stuttering define you?
It has certainly influenced our lives. We all agree that it has made us more empathetic to people with other disabilities. But it has also been a source of frustration and held us back from being good communicators.
We met at Temple University. We were joined by a newcomer, a student from another university in town.
We talked about how different the perception of stuttering is nowadays vs how it was decades ago. For many of us, there weren’t support groups and all the resources that exist today back when we were younger. People were on their own or had to work with therapists that didn’t know much about stuttering. Today there is more openness and acceptance towards people with all types of disabilities and conditions. There is more information about stuttering and therapists are trained better to deal with it. There is still a lot more work to do to educate people, but things are better now.
We also talked about getting ready for the holidays and plans for the new year.
We wish all happy holidays and a very happy new year!
We shared a lot of Thanksgiving stories from this year and past ones.
One of the attendees was someone that has been almost completely fluent for many years. He sometimes wonders if he belongs at our meetings. Even though he is very fluent now, he was very severe when he was younger and took him many years to find what worked for him. His experiences are very valuable to all of us and he has a lot of insights to offer to rest of us. Everyone with experience or an interest in stuttering is welcome to our meetings.
There is a perception that stressful situations make us stutter. That is true for some people. However, many times is not that the situation is stressful but that is a new situation we haven’t encountered before. This can be a new location, a new person, a new topic or a variation of any of them.
We also talked about “time pressure” but from a different point of view. Many times we talk about how we get pressured to speak fast. But there is also pressure about saying something at a precise moment. The timing of when we say something can be very important before the moment passes. For example, some of members are nurses and they have to communicate important information at the right time or else it can be missed and cause problems for the patient.
Removing the anticipation to stutter and its secondaries can lead the way towards becoming more comfortable. We tend to dread those blocks when we see them coming. How about removing that anticipation and that dread and just focus on the successes? Reminding ourselves of the moments that we are fluent and communicate well leads to less stress and eventually to less blocks.
We talked about work situations in which people have not been nice towards our stuttering. Most times is more important to have a good group of people and a good environment at work than higher pay or benefits. Those relations have a lot of impact on our live and our levels of stress. We can ignore the people that hurt us but in the end, running away from the problem makes things works.
We talked about what to do when people ask us questions. Kids are naturally curious and we shouldn’t be offended when they ask. Some adults have no idea of when they are being insensitive. We have to educate them and show them the right things to do or not do when talking to a person that stutters. But some times it feels that we are the ones that have to do everything to make others comfortable as if it is our responsibility that people don’t have common sense about what to do when a person is stuttering. It is a difficult balance.
We all feel fortunate to be having these problems now and not in the 1920s when there was very little know about stuttering and a lot of misconceptions. It was considered a mental illness back then and many experiments, some of them very inhuman by today’s standards, were run in order to cure people from it. We are thankful that organizations like the NSA exist to help us. Children and young adults have a lot more resources now than many of us had when we were growing up. In a way, it is easier to be a person that stutters now than it was when we were growing up. There is more awareness and more support that there ever was.
Lastly, one of our members proposed organizing a book club as a social activity to get together and talk about other things besides stuttering. Stay tuned for more info!