Monday, July 1, 2013

#100stutterProject and #NSAinAZ13

The Westin Kierland in Scotsdale, AZ. The site of NSA 2013.

This week I leave for the National Stuttering Association Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ. Not only will I be presenting a workshop on #100stutterProject, but I’ll have the opportunity to experience workshops myself, meet and learn from incredible people and spend a week dodging record high’s in temperature and the inevitable sunburn. I wanted to try and paint a picture for my friends and family of just how powerful these couple days are for myself those who attend.
I wish that everyone could experience the NSA conference.

Imagine a place where all insecurities, all fears and all hesitancy to be completely you are gone. Completely gone.

 Hard to imagine, I know. I didn’t know this type of environment existed until I drove the 3 hours from Detroit to Cleveland four years ago for my first conference.  People of all types gather here with only one goal in mind, to offer each other support. It doesn’t matter if one is a person who stutters, a sibling, spouse, student or a curious wanderer who stops in, the reach of support and welcoming extend far beyond only those with fluency challenges. For these few days, the subliminal pressures to be “normal” or “cool” are gone, and everyone is encouraged to be themselves, share and learn from each other and have an incredible week. It really isn’t only a conference for those who stutter, but a conference for all.

On Thursday afternoon, the 4th of July, I’ll have an opportunity to present the #100stutterProject and share my experiences throughout this process. I plan on emphasizing just how incredible the support was from friends, family, co-workers and media. I still can’t thank you all enough for everything along the way. The #100stutterProject grew larger than I ever imagined, and I’m grateful to have a chance to share my thoughts and ideas with others.

I’ll be sure to recap my experiences this week along with the time since the 100 days has commenced. If I won’t be seeing you this week in Arizona, I urge you to spend this week supporting each other, being completely yourself and having a great holiday with family and friends.

 I know I will. #NSAinAZ13

Monday, May 20, 2013

Check out my friends at StutterTalk!

I had a great time sharing my experiences and chatting about stuttering. StutterTalk is a great resource full of awesome podcasts covering all kinds of topics related to stuttering. Highly recommend!
National Stuttering Awareness Week

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My Free Press Experience

Last week I was lucky enough to have The Detroit Free Press run a column about the #100stutterProject as well as my personal story.

First and foremost, I want to thank John Carlisle and Kimberly Mitchell for putting the story and video together in such a tremendous way. Initially, I had reservations about sharing so much and letting people in on such a large platform. Stuttering is an important part of my life and I wanted to be sure that it was portrayed in a positive light, as it should be. I was extremely pleased with the job John and Kimberly did and the way the piece was put together. Many thanks to you both.

A little background, I had spoken with John briefly about my project, a little about my personal story and stuttering before we met. I knew that he wanted to “experience” the project for himself, and we agreed to meet on the campus of Wayne State University.  John was there with his video counterpart, Kimberly. Both were very nice and interested.

Shortly after we met I was mic’d up and the camera was turned on. It was “go time”.  This was definitely a heightened situation and I immediately began to feel the angst and nerves creep in. When the time came to approach people on campus, I subconsciously started to rehearse my “tools”, such as easy-onset, prolongations, or any sort of trick I have to increase fluency. As soon as I struggled with the first “hello”, I knew fluency would be hard to come by. 

Walking around campus, in the library, next to the food trucks and then in the classroom, I encountered a lot of people. I ended up speaking with around 15 people on campus and in front of 40 or so grad students. All interactions were different, all positive and all dysfluent. Honestly, I began to feel like I was at the NSA conference. I could approach anyone I wanted to, speak freely, and it felt incredible.

During these few hours, I had a moment. It hit me just how powerful this project was and the magnitude of effect it has had on me.

I knew that fluency would be hard to come by. I knew I’d be stuttering a great deal in front of strangers. I knew I was on camera and many people would see. And that was okay. In fact, it was better.  

The fact that I stuttered and grinded so mightily that morning, was a good thing. It gave people a honest look into what stuttering can be like. Some days no matter how much I “relax”, “slow down” or implement tools it still takes a great deal of effort to get most words out. And on that day, that was the case.

In the past, bouts with stuttering often meant shame, embarrassment and disappointment. Not that day and not again.

I want sincerely thank everyone for all the support throughout these 91 days and after the story came out. The story was ran in the Detroit Free Press, online at USA Today, and via publications in Louisiana, Virginia and Florida.  I’ve received a number of e-mails, endless amounts of “likes”, shout outs from people in my community, and extra comments on my blog. They have all been positive and all much appreciated. This experience has been extremely humbling and has cemented my belief that people are good, and  I’m lucky to be surrounded by the best.

Thank you all again. 9 days left, let’s finish strong.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 89: Sharing my experiences with SLP's

     I want to extend a big thank you to the Speech Pathologist's of the Birmingham, MI school district for inviting me to come share and discuss my experiences with stuttering, school and speech therapy among many different topics.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Day 76: Speech Therapy

Today I conclude another spring term of speech therapy at Wayne State University. As I grow older, and even with a degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders, I continue to learn just how valuable these 45 minute sessions are. Every week, I am able to refocus, think about goals and discuss situations, attitudes and stuttering with interested students and SLP's. I work on easy onset, bounces and prolongations in an effort to stengthen my stuttering toolbox for implementation in daily interaction. I practice skills like eye contact, tone, rate of speech and posture,  all that have helped me become an effective communicator, even when fluency is hard to find. As a young adult, I can't emphasize enough just how valuable speech therapy is, and if you're a PWS, I urge you to continue with, return to, or just talk about speech therapy and how you may benefit.

I'd like to thank Erik Raj, Derek Daniels, Christelle and the rest of the WSU Speech Clinic for their continued support, effort and interest in providing speech therapy for those who stutter.

Below is a piece I wrote for the NSA website regarding speech therapy as a young adult.

Should I attend speech therapy?

Whether you have years of experience or are considering attending for the first time, speech therapy as a young adult has a number of benefits. Speech Therapy offers a platform to:
  • Discuss situations such as job interviews, oral presentations or socialinteractions and devise strategies to best help reach your goals.
  • Improve effective communication skills that can be applied in the real world.
  • Refresh and learn new tools (fluency modification, shaping, etc.) that help to offer control and improve confidence in regards to stuttering.
  • Analyze attitudes and behaviors in an effort to best handle stuttering as a young adult.
  • Retain accountability and stay proactive in pursuit of communication goals.

Life for any young adult brings on many different challenges. Speech therapy is a worthwhile option for those who stutter to help approach these challenges in the best way possible.

What sort of speech therapy is best for me and where do I find it?

With continued improvement in the Speech and Language Pathology field, professionals have a greater understanding of stuttering and how to treat it. Stuttering is so complex and different for each individual; a Speech Pathologist will be able to devise the right plan for you. Speech Therapy is offered at:
  • High School
  • College or University
  • Hospitals
  • Private Clinics
  • Intensive Programs
There are many options for speech therapy, it is best to consult with a professional and find the best option for you.

Speech Therapy just isn't for me.

If you are unable to attend speech therapy, a great option is to find your local NSA support group. At NSA support group meetings, people who stutter, their friends and family, and all who are interested meet to discuss issues and offer each other support as it relates to stuttering. It is a great place to meet other people who stutter, practice techniques, and seek advice or just converse with different people.