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.
Yesterday, we had our first chapter meeting online and it was a great success! We were a total of 9 people, more than we get at a regular meeting. It gave an opportunity to attend to people we had not seen in a very long time. Also, we had two attendees from the South Jersey chapter. We used Google Hangouts and no one had issues connecting into the call. We took turns at reading the Welcoming Words at the beginning and we read the Closing Words together at the end. We talked a lot about the coronavirus and how it is impacting our lives, our jobs and everything around us. It was a great meeting and we all enjoyed it. It went so well that it was proposed we hold an online meeting on a regular basis once our schedule goes back to normal and we will definitely do that. For now, the NSA has declared all on-site chapter meetings cancelled through April. We will have the next two scheduled chapter meetings online. I will send the links for each meeting as the date gets closer. I encourage anyone that has not been able to come to a chapter meeting in a long time to join us online. Some of you that move out of the Philadelphia area but are still on our mailing list, join us and let’s catch up. The next two meetings will be online at 7:00 PM:
Thursday, April 2
Tuesday, April 21
Stay safe and take care of yourselves and your families. Carmen
I am very pleased to announce that on Saturday November 7, the NSA and Temple University will host a One-Day NSA Conference in Philadelphia!
The event will take place at Temple University Main Campus in Center City Philadelphia. Now that the date and location are confirmed, we will start the process of defining the workshops and activities.
Nothing has been decided yet but I can tell you that the plan is to have simultaneous tracks, such as one for adults, one for children/tweens and possibly one for family/friends. In addition, there will be a few sessions that will provide CEU credits for speech language pathologist. We are also looking into screening the move “When I Stutter”.
Please hold the date and stay tuned for more updates! Carmen
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!