In 1988 Ronald Reagan declared the 2nd week of May as National Stuttering Awareness Week (NSAW)- a week dedicated to educating our communities about stuttering and its impact on peoples' lives. Members of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) played a huge role in establishing this week so what better way to celebrate it than to hear from current NSA members? The following excerpts come from the social media accounts of 4 NSA members (with permission).
Above is a video created by Pamela Mertz, a person who stutters and the host of the website, www.stutterrockstar.com/. In this video, she articulately describes and provides examples of voluntary stuttering (stuttering on purpose).
There are three main rationales for using voluntary stuttering.
1. To desensitize, or get used to, a moment of disfluency.
When a person stutters, they often have an immediate and sometimes negative reaction to the moment of disfluency. This reaction may manifest as eye blinks, head nods, tension in the lips, tongue or cheeks, lip smacking, irregular breathing etc. Voluntary stuttering can help a person work towards reducing that reaction and tension, leaving a more comfortable form of stuttering. A person may also choose to purposefully use “hard” stuttering to reduce their reaction to moments of tense disfluency.
Whether or not you are a person who stutters, making and receiving telephone calls can be a source of anxiety. Whoever invented text messages definitely had people who stutter in mind. However, has text messages and social media sites helped us communicate more effortlessly, or have they created a way to put off the inevitable and therefore build up more tension around the idea of using the phone?
It's time to look Alexander Graham Bell in the eye (well, figuratively), and pick up that phone.
1. Practice, practice, practice! Call restaurants and ask them their hours. Call retail stores and ask them if they have a particular thing in stock. Call when you know someone you're comfortable with is not available so you can practice leaving voicemails. Call numbers that have voice activated systems and don't cheat and use the keypad option! The more you practice for the sake of practicing, the less stressful it will be when you actually have to make a phone call because you will know what to expect.
One of the highly dreaded, yet very rewarding, activities that I do with some of my clients is "advertising." Of course every student (and parent) begins speech therapy in hopes of reducing the frequency and severity of stuttering. However, equally as important in any PWS (person who stutters) treatment plan should be to become their own advocate and "advertise" themselves as a person who stutters. You can't ALWAYS control your disfluencies, but you CAN help your communication partners understand stuttering and teach them ways to best assist you! And as a bonus, advertising reduces the tension associated with thinking "am I going to stutter?" "when am I going to stutter?", "will they notice my stuttering?" etc. etc. etc. Advertising can be as simple as saying "Just so you know sometimes I stutter, so please give me a few extra seconds to get out what I have to say." Without that built up tension, you are open to speak freely and often more fluently!
Check this video out of a contestant on "So You Think You Can Dance?" who openly advertises about his stuttering. He clearly tells judges what helps him and makes him feel most comfortable (although most PWS may disagree with what he asks the judges to do...to each his own! ) This is a great example of how to advertise yourself as a person who stutters and let it inspire you rather than define you!
Share with us your stories of how you advertised!
DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this website is to act as an educational aid and address common topics associated with stuttering. It is not intended to replace the need for services provided by a licensed speech pathologist who can tailor treatment to an individual's needs.