We had an exceptional month at our chapter with two very well attended and diverse meetings. The first meeting was on the third Monday of the month and attended by 35 people, including 2 first timers and 4 SLP’s. The second meeting was held on the last Wednesday of November and was a collaboration between 8 dedicated SLP (Speech- Language Pathologist) and 10 people who stutter. The conversations during the meetings were varied and stimulating. Topics ranged from stuttering and identity, to stuttering and language, to stuttering trauma and healing, and of course, lots of learning and sharing. Here are some of the highlights of the nights:
Stuttering Across Different Languages
We started the night off discussing stuttering across different languages. One member had recently taken a trip to Mexico City and shared how on top of the language barrier, there was a sort of stuttering barrier. Whether it is a lack of confidence in the language, new sounds, cultural defensiveness, or perfectionism, we all agreed that learning a foreign language or communicating with someone speaking a foreign language could cause stress and anxiety, which can enhance stuttering. We then continued the conversation of stuttering, stress, and anxiety to our everyday lives. As great and motivational as these support groups can be, the reality is we are all stuttering every day in worlds that feel so fluent. So, we devoted some good, therapeutic energy to exploring these emotions and justifying our experiences. Stuttering can be extremely overwhelming and taxing on the soul, but we hope that groups like this can inspire feelings of connectedness and validation.
Feelings Surrounding Stuttering and Identity
A question came up of whether it was possible to reach a point where no negative emotions would be felt when identifying themselves as a person who stutters, either to a listener or oneself. One of the members expressed that for him there are and there will continue to be many emotions and thoughts that he feels when identifying as a person who stutters. Stuttering has led him to feel much pain in his life, and it continues to do so at times. But it has also brought him the ability to connect with others in a way he may not have been able to if it were not for his stuttering. It has also helped him become an effective communicator by examining speaking in a different light. And stuttering has brought him to this wonderful community of others who can connect with him in a way that most others cannot.
Relationship Between Stuttering and Trauma
What role does traumatic stuttering experiences from the past play into our present day life? This question surfaced after someone reflected how he found himself perplexed by the intensity of his fears surrounding stuttering in his present day life, despite his high levels of choice and stability. This question led to a heated conversation about the mismatch between the perceived danger surrounding moments of stuttering and the reality of that moment. Many people opened their hearts to share about times they were confused or surprised by the intense response they had to a stuttering moment, and how to this day they can’t wrap their heads around it. The conversation morphed into the latest research on trauma and the brain, including healing modalities for traumatic experiences such as mindfulness, yoga and meditation. The larger question about the connection between stuttering and trauma remained at the end of the night, and several eager participants talked about their interest to explore the topic more outside of the room.
SLP Collaborative Meeting
Our third year in a row SLP collaborative meeting was a huge success. Led by the SLP Liaisons’ Chani Markel and Chaya Goldstein, the night forged a deeper connection between people who stutter and SLP’s. Authentic questions from SLP’s and people who stutter were addressed, including the most effective ways to support people who stutter. People who stuttered got to share their experiences of therapy and the ways they felt SLP’s could support people who stutter in and out of therapy. It was a night of mutual growth, understanding, and support, one we look forward to replicating in the future.
We ended summer with a bang with 31 people in attendance at our August meeting. Summer adventures, new semesters, and job challenges were some of the rich, relevant, and important topics of the night. Take a read here to see what was discussed:
Discrimination at work
We had an important conversation about experiences of subtle and overt discrimination at work. One person shared that he was recently hired at a new job and was experiencing extra scrutiny despite excelling at his position and having disclosed that he was a person who stuttered at the time of his hire. Several of our members were well versed in discrimination laws and asked probing questions to help him discern if this scrutiny for new employees was common practice, or subtle or overt discrimination. It left many of us reflecting on the common practices at work environments, and a heightened awareness of the importance of looking out for and ensuring equal treatment for all employees with differences and disabilities.
The Upside of Advertising
In our groups we often discuss how helpful it is when we advertise our stuttering. Advertising, another word for disclosing, is the term used to let someone know that you stutter. Saying something like “you may notice that I stutter” (no apologies!) is helpful because it gets stuttering out in the open and reduces tension and anxiety for the speaker. It also provides knowledge for the listener so they understand what is happening. Advertising is incredibly helpful because it allows the content of the conversation to be primary rather than secondary. It increases the chances for authentic connection in the conversation. One of our members shared how he recently advertised on the phone at work to a new superior and how as a result felt exceptionally more confident in himself. He was now excited to approach his new experiences at work with his supervisor because he took the reigns in his hand and set the stage for success. Members echoed shared experiences of positive advertising experience and how they felt a sense of empowerment when stuttering in a confident way.
The Joy of Sharing
One member shared how she advertised her stutter to her extended family while visiting them this summer. She found the experience to be empowering and joyful. Our group members applauded her for her courage, and had a great conversation about the best ways to go about advertising to people who know you already but you may never have created the opportunity to explicitly share with them about stuttering. It got others to also share about their positive experiences, and gave some people who never considered the idea, something to think about.
Liked these conversations? Join us at our monthly meetings to hear, share and experience these conversations together. We look forward to seeing you there!
-Manhattan Chapter Leaders
We had a bit of a toss up this month when our usual meeting spot had a fire two hours before starting time. Thankfully we were invited to the American Institute for Stuttering (AIS), where our meeting proceeded with ease. With a nice turnout of 25 people, including 2 first timers, we split into 3 groups. Here’s a synopsis of what was discussed:
Stuttering and the Mirror Effect
We had an interesting conversation about what it’s like to meet other people who stutter in the ‘real world’. Some said it brought up an instant feeling of camaraderie and increased their desire to connect, which they often did. Others vehemently disagreed. For them they felt like it was looking in a mirror reminding them of the struggle they experience as a speaker in a world that doesn’t understand them. Those individuals felt that they would rather keep stuttering tucked away unless deemed necessary to deal with. This opened a conversation about how we view our stuttering. Is our stuttering something shameful that we prefer to hide, or something we choose to embrace, maybe even wear proudly? Many shared the perspective that they’d prefer stuttering be looked at as another part of themselves, neither good nor bad, it just is. All agreed that we would not want our stuttering to define us, reminding us of how we are all so much more than our stutters.
Navigating Stuttering and Dating
We discussed the topic of online dating, specifically whether to include anything about stuttering in a profile. Members had contrasting views on this. Some swore by it since it could potentially act as a filter. They felt strongly that since stuttering is a part of our identity we should not go out of the way to hide it. Others thought it was unnecessary to put something so personal out there in the initial phases. We concluded there wasn’t a right or a wrong. One important takeaway we agreed on was that in a world where there is often much judgment, it is important to love ourselves and to be kind to ourselves regardless of any outcome.
Job Searching and Stuttering Stigma
One member started the night by sharing how he has recently started up the job search process again. Phone interviews have been stressful but he’s determined to to be patient and push through. From this, another member who just moved to the US from India a few months asked whether we believe employers are accepting of stuttering. He shared that growing up in India, stuttering was very stigmatized and since moving here, he has noticed that people are much more accepting and is working on being more accepting of himself. From there, we also discussed how unspoken but how common family shame can be surrounding stuttering. Whether we have family members who stutter or don’t stutter, stuttering is a hard topic to bring up. And if we don’t bring it up or do bring it up, both are okay.
Our annual National Stuttering Association Conference held July 4th weekend is coming up very soon! If you haven’t booked your hotel room and signed up for the weekend of awesomeness, now’s the time! Check out all details and make your reservations here: https://westutter.org/.
Next Meeting Reminder!
Our next meeting will be held this Monday, 7:30pm–9pm at A.R.T./New York, located at 520 Eighth Avenue, between 36th and 37th Streets. Security in the lobby will ask to take a picture and look at ID. Say you are going to the third floor, or to A.R.T./New York. Take the elevators on the left to the third floor, and then look at the whiteboard to find out which room we’re meeting in. Check out all the details here!
These past few months were filled with exciting new initiatives and fun events! We welcomed in fall with some serious stuttering style starting with our ISAD day of awareness, followed by our SAP mock interview and networking event, and our annual speech-language pathologist education meeting. Check out our whirlwind of goodness below.
We had over 30 individual present at our meeting. It was night filled with curiosity, positivity and support. Our conversational topics ranged from what kept us going as children, to the ways we currently give back to our community, to the ‘stages of change’ (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1983) we experience as we travel on our stuttering journey. It was a great night that ended with us heading to Juniper bar for some shared drinks and more socialization.
ISAD 2017- International Stuttering Awareness Day
Twenty of us headed to Astoria Park on October 22nd 2017 for a day of awareness and education. We had posters, pamphlets, banners, and lots of spirit and spunk! We got to meet people who never heard about stuttering, others who had friends or family who stuttered, and people who stuttered themselves. We dispelled myths, shared knowledge, and handed out lots of resources. Our highlight was when a teacher shared that he was a person who stuttered and was eager to share stuttering resources with his students when he went to work the next day.
SAP Mock Interview and Networking Event
Our second-ever mock interviewing and networking event was a real hit! Here’s Stavro’s recap of the night:
“Our Manhattan chapter had a stuttering awareness and mock interview event at SAP, one of the largest tech companies in the world, in Lower Manhattan. The group of NSA chapter members and SAP employees started the evening by mingling a bit, and we learned about SAP as a company. Two of us co-leader then facilitated a conversation about communication (along with the COO of the company) and then did some stuttering Q&A and talked about the mission of the NSA.
For the second portion of the evening, we split off for some mock interviews, with mutual feedback exchanged between SAP participants and people who stutter. NSA chapter members who attended enjoyed educating people about stuttering in a professional space (several of the SAP employees expressed knowing very little about stuttering) and SAP employees shared some helpful interviewing tips. It was a constructive night for all participants. We look forward to more similar events in the coming months.”
November SLP Meeting Recap
We continued our tradition we started last year of having a meeting specifically designed for Speech Language-Pathologists (SLP’s) and graduate students who are interested in learning more about stuttering. It was an engaging night of learning and sharing with questions and insights from SLP’s, graduate students and people who stutter. Different perspectives were given on the understanding and experience of voluntary stuttering, the role stuttering support groups play in the lives of people who stutter, and what people who stutter want current and future SLP’s to know. Many SLP’s expressed a desire to better understand stuttering and were so grateful to our chapter for providing the opportunity to learn and grow. A special thank you to Chani Markel who helped co-facilitate the night and kept things running smoothly.
November (regular) Recap
With so much happening in the weeks leading to this meeting, our regular meeting was a breath of fresh air! It was good to unite with our cohesive group and reconnect in our natural setting. The one theme that stood out from the night was the theme of belonging. When one of our chapter leaders shared how she loves being part of our ‘tribe’ the word stuck like glue. We all agreed that there is something so special about our community, our family, or ‘stamily’, and now stuttering tribe! If you are reading this and haven’t joined us yet, this is a personal invitation to come see what it’s all about. Hard to put in words but so easily understood in person-come and join us! You won’t be disappointed.
It’s that time of year again! Join us this Saturday night for our annual holiday celebration. Bring you loved ones and friends. The more the merrier! We’ll be meeting at Juniper Bar 237 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001 at 8:00 pm.
We’ll be meeting on Monday, December 18th at 7:30 pm at our usual time and place
• Please arrive a couple min earlier with photo ID
• 520 Eighth Ave (between 36th and 37th Streets)
• A.R.T./New York
• Third Floor, Studio B
Do you want to help people who stutter and participate in science?
Researchers at NYU and Yale are conducting a joint research project which examines the brains of people who stutter during social interaction. We are seeking adults who stutter for two experiments. Both experiments use functional near-infrared spectroscopy to monitor changes in brain activity during a series of simple tasks (e.g., reading aloud, talking to the researcher). The experiments are safe and non-invasive, and involve wearing a stretchy cap with light emitters and sensors. Experiment 1 will take place at NYU and Experiment 2 will take place at Yale. Both experiments will last approximately 60 minutes.
Participants will be compensated $40 for Experiment 1 and up to $100 for Experiment 2. Additionally, subjects will be reimbursed for train travel to/from Yale University, if applicable. You can participate in one or both experiments.
If you are interested in participating in either study, please contact Dr. Eric S. Jackson at email@example.com .
Thank you for your consideration!
The intense rain and flash flood warnings didn’t keep 16 determined folks from coming to our meeting on Monday night. We had a fair share of wet socks, squeaky sneakers and messy hair, which made for good jokes and lots of laughter. We split into 3 groups for connecting conversation and heartfelt talk. Here’s a glimpse into some of our conversations:
A Safe Place
One person shared how he appreciates the safe space the NSA meetings provide because it gives him opportunities to share his innermost thoughts and feelings about stuttering. This opened a conversation about why people come back month after month despite doing well at work, socially and otherwise. Most agreed it is refreshing to come to a place where others “get it”; a place where they feel free to be themselves, vent frustrations, share struggles and celebrate victories. We talked about how we always feel replenished when leaving the meeting and how it’s a highlight of our month.
Stuttering, Minorities and Disabilities
The topic of kinship and relating to minority populations and individuals with disabilities had the room abuzz with conversation. One member said he felt a deep connection to people who are deaf since they too struggle with communication. Another member shared how stuttering opened his connection to minority populations, whom he now represents at work. Members expressed gratitude for having opportunities to connect with wonderful people they otherwise would not relate to, if not for their stutter.
“ Does stuttering shape one’s personality?” This question arose when someone shared how he struggles to be assertive and believes it is because of his stutter. Some members shared this sentiment while others said stuttering pushed them to become more assertive, bold, and even daring. However, even those who felt empowered by their stuttering agreed that stuttering strongly impacts one’s personality and can shape them for better or worse.
Stuttering and Relationships
We talked about how stuttering and relationships can be tricky. Some people shared that their friends and families didn’t understand them and put them in uncomfortable positions (i.e. handing them the phone to talk.) Others shared that, although not innate to understanding the struggle, their spouses or close friends put in an effort to empathize and understand them. This led to a great conversation about communication, intentionality and the willingness to be vulnerable. It reminded us of how letting our loved one’s know how to respond to our stuttering can prove to be incredibly helpful and liberating.
Keeping it Simple
We talked about the complexities of stuttering and ways to keep it simple. Complexities included stuttering being something we cannot hide, stuttering being an isolating experience, and being misunderstood by people who don’t know what stuttering is. Things like transparency, not taking things personally, and choosing to educate people about stuttering were discussed as ways to simplify these complexities. This led to several members sharing how when they took the opportunity to share with others about their stuttering, it often turned out to be a positive experience for all parties involved.
Join us for our next meeting this Monday, July 17th from 7:30-9:00 at A.R.T./New York, Third floor, Studio B. Because of the location policy, please arrive a couple minutes early with a photo I.D.
We hope to see you there!