Monday’s night meeting was a robust gathering of 22 people in total – 19 of whom were PWS and an impressive turnout of 10 first-timers! Welcome to our NSA Midtown Chapter Mihir, Daniel, Vladamir, Marijana, Ajay, Kevin, Melanie, Stephen, Danny and Chani. We are very excited and fortunate to be around a strong and growing stuttering community here in New York City.
We split into two groups and as usual discussed some of the many things stuttering-related on our minds. A few of the members in both of the groups expressed a level of frustration we feel when parents, either currently or in the past, cause by putting uncomfortable pressure to work on our skills. This can be especially exasperating since we live in a culture where people are somewhat conditioned to think that basically every abnormality has some straightforward fix, or even a cure. But unfortunately, outside of these support groups and our community, most people are pretty ignorant on the subject of stuttering and really don’t know what the heck they’re talking about.
One of the first timers, a native from Eastern Europe, expressed how up until joining us tonight, he had never spoken to another person who stuttered. To clarify, he actually has a long-term friend who also happens to stutter, but they have never talked about stuttering over the 30 years of knowing each other. Tonight he spoke to 18 of us about it!
Another first-timer expressed how when compared to his home country of India, people here in the US tend to be more accepting of a person who stutters. It’s safe to say that for some, maybe because of cultural differences, stuttering is still sort of a taboo subject to talk about. But there are others who talk about stuttering freely and happily. One of our members, Dhruv Gupta, a native of India who is currently living in Mumbai, is the leader of a large stuttering community there and is doing an amazing job helping people who stutter and spreading awareness. Dhruv, you’re the man.
We talked about how our fluent friends and acquaintances could better understand stuttering, and maybe even experience how it feels in some way. One of our first-timers, a PWS and an SLP grad student explained that one of her assignments in her stuttering class was to go out into the world and stutter three different times. This can be very effective for fluent speakers in experiencing the iceberg effect related to stuttering – there’s much more going on beneath the surface than what meets the eye.
One member raised the question if some of us have at times let our stuttering hold us back, sort of like a crutch, when in reality it was something else that was preventing ourselves from moving forward. This raised the notion that despite our daily challenges that we may face, we also have a responsibility to hold ourselves accountable for the goals we set out to accomplish in our lives. One member talked about one of his idols, Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric and a person who stutters. You can listen to a fantastic StutterTalk podcast of him here.
In closing, an analogy that may be applicable and can simplify things a bit is that we’re all dealt a set of cards in our lives, a hand. And many of us who came to group this evening and continue to come to try to figure out how best to play this one hand we have. Together we’ll figure out how to do just that, because together we are strong.