On Monday October 17th, we had a wonderful Midtown NSA meeting. The 25 total people who showed up consisted of 21 people who stutter (PWS) and 4 speech language pathology (SLP) students. After the meeting (as per usual), a bunch of us went to the bar across the street and decompressed with continued conversations and of course the optional drink. Before we head into the recap, a huge thank you to all those who came back and warmest welcomes to all our first timers!
In our first group, one member brought up an upcoming interview for a job he really wants and questioned the usefulness of advertising. Does disclosing stuttering make you a more attractive candidate or a less attractive candidate? For a lot of us, it’s hard to gauge whether advertising “works” or not. The simpler question may be: how does advertising make us feel? If advertising can make us feel the slightest more comfortable with our speech, then maybe it is worth it. After all, the experiences of stuttering can be very difficult and draining. Summarized by another member: you want to communicate one thing, but then you get lost in a maze of word switching and avoidances. The other person exhibits discomfort. It can be subtle, but it’s there. You stutter. Your mind goes blank, and before you know it, what you’ve actually said is completely different from what you had meant to say in the first place. We know this feeling all too well.
Our second group talked a lot about the different kinds of pressures we face. For when you make a phone call, there’s time pressure to be quick and efficient. When you have a job, there’s pressure to maintain it and excel at it. And as people who stutter, a huge pressure we face is to be just like everyone else: fluent. One member recalled the stress she experienced when she first got promoted earlier this year. She talked about the pressure she felt to perform and speak fluently and the negative impact it had on her quality of life. Another member spoke about the sleepless, paranoid nights he spent reviewing and analyzing every assignment to prove his competency at a previous job. Although everyone faces different pressures in their lives, it became a consensus among the group that we owe ourselves a certain amount of sanity and self- compassion.
Our third group talked a lot about the sometimes-contentious topic within our community, of speech therapy. One member remembered speech therapy sessions while growing up, which attempted to make them fluent, specifically by being instructed to slow down, take a deep breathe, and to start over again. In this kind of speech therapy, fluency is rewarded and stuttering is shamed. Many of us know this is a sure recipe for promoting destructive communication behaviors. For many of us growing up however, this is what speech therapy looked like. Today, at least in many cases, speech therapy has been greatly improved, and often the exact opposite, by providing a structured environment where a client is guided in allowing themselves to stutter in a focused and forward moving way.
International Stuttering Awareness Day
We are having an event to raise stuttering awareness and pride in Central Park this Sunday, October 23rd from 11AM – 4PM. We will be by the Columbus Circle Entrance in the southwest corner of the park. Check out our Facebook event here. We will have a table with informational handouts, food & drink and personalized material to help the general public understand not just the generic facts about stuttering — but about our day to day experience. (We welcome any donations of baked goods to attract people to come to our table!!)
SLP student Informational Group: November 7th
We have had a larger than average interest from SLP students in wanting to attend our monthly support groups. Since it is very important for our group to maintain the appropriate atmosphere during meetings, we often have to limit the number of SLPs and SLP students that join us. But in November we’ll be having an extra meeting for any members interested in some sort of combo between a support group and a panel to educate SLP students. Stay tuned for more details.
Brooklyn group: The next Brooklyn chapter meeting will be Monday October 10th. Check out their site here for all info.
Getting involved: We’re always looking for new ways to continue to strengthen our growing stuttering community. Shoot us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org with any ideas