Saturday, September 23, 2017

Meet Stutter Social host Ronan Miller

Stutter Social is happy to announce the newest member of our amazing roster of hosts, Ronan Miller! Let's get to know Ronan a little bit:

1. Tell us about yourself

My name is Ronan Miller, and I am from Nottingham in the UK. I am 32 years old and have lived in Valencia, Spain since 2008. I am a PhD student at the University of Valencia, where I am conducting research into how people who stutter experience anxiety in English foreign language learning. I enjoy music in its many forms, cooking and eating, and exercising.

2. What was it like for you to grow up stuttering?

Growing up with a stutter was very difficult at times, the two most troublesome situations for me were being asked my name at school and making phone calls to my friends (before everyone had a mobile phone!). I was lucky enough to have a good group of friends that didn't care about my stutter, and all things considered I feel very fortunate to have had the experiences I have had.

3. What made you interested in becoming a Stutter Social host?

I have benefitted enormously from speaking with other people who stutter over the years, and my attitude towards stuttering has improved a great deal thanks to those conversations. In some small way, I hope that by becoming a stutter social host I may be able to pass on some of the positivity and understanding that I have received.

4. Do you have any advice for people who stutter?

My advice would be focus on your strengths, all of us have weaknesses, whether we stutter or not. Despite the negatives, stuttering can lead to a whole host of positive experiences, and instead of holding you back, can actually make you more determined and ready to take risks. There are many people who stutter who do amazing things and continue to stutter openly, showing that attitude and self-acceptance is more important that speech fluency!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

First Stutter Social Award presented to Pam Mertz for service to community

Pam Mertz, received the first Stutter Social Award for her service as Stutter Social host and to the stuttering community.

The award was presented by co-founder, Mitchell Trichon during the 41st annual Weekend Workshop for Effective Communication at the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York, to an audience of clients, family, past clients, student clinicians, supervisors, faculty, and administrators.

A smiling and “so surprised” Pam walked up to the podium to receive her award presented before Mitch began his workshop showcasing Stutter Social as a useful tool for people who stutter.

“Along with being a Stutter Social host, Pam is quite active and does so much for the stuttering community that I felt it was fitting to honour her right in her hometown!”, said Mitch. "It was great to honour Pam in her hometown. She's done so much for the stuttering community. We are so happy she's a part of Stutter Social."

Also in attendance via Google+ Hangout were Pam's fellow stutter social hosts as part of Mitch's demonstration of the technology used in Stutter Social group video chats. "I was so surprised and happy that several of my good friends were there to see it via technology.", Pam later shared on her blog, Make Room For The Stuttering.

Along with being a fierce advocate and great role model for women who stutter, a few fun facts about Pam’s service to the stuttering community include:
  • Getting fired from her job of 20 years because of her stuttering was a “defining and positively life transforming moment” that prompted her to never hide her stuttering and let her authentic self shine through. Pam does a lot of public speaking at her current job to high schools, universities, and gives training to colleagues at staff meetings.
  • Pam created the Make Room For The Stuttering blog in 2009 to share her experiences with stuttering and prove that stuttering indeed has social value (you can also read Pam's post about receiving the award).
  • In 2010, Pam launched her Women Who Stutter: Our Stories podcast to provide a forum for women to share their stories about living with stuttering – so far she has produced over 160 episodes featuring women from over 30 countries!
  • Pam gives multiple workshops at the National Stuttering Association’s annual conference and is currently a member of the Board of Directors, Co-chair Special Projects of the National Stuttering Association
  • In 2011, Pam was awarded the Jefferson Medal for Public Service for her efforts in raising awareness of stuttering and increasing tolerance.
  • A member of the Board of Directors, Secretary of the International Stuttering Association
  • Pam regularly shares her stuttering experiences to speech language pathology students
  • One of the earliest members of the stuttering community on Twitter (she's @stutterrockstar)
  • A Distinguished Toastmaster, Pam credits Toastmasters for being an “incredibly helpful experience” for her where she has entered speech contests, been involved in mentoring, held club leadership positions including Treasurer, President of her chapter, Area Governor and completed the Toastmasters High Performance Leadership Project.

The Stutter Social Award has been created to honour our hosts. It is in the shape of an iceberg as a tribute to the famous Iceberg Analogy of Stuttering.

Congratulations Pam and thank you again for your service!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Introducing new Stutter Social host, Douglas Scott

Let's meet Douglas Scott, new Stutter Social host! Doug will host Thursdays alternating with Chad Mannisi.

1. Tell us about yourself.

I joined the NSA when it was known as the NSP (National Stuttering Project) in 1985.  I am a native of Houston, Texas and a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin.  I love college football especially the Longhorns! Hook em! Go Horns! I am married with two sons, ages 24 and 22.

Besides the NSA,  my passion is TV shows (I'm a junkie) and movies, traveling, and towels! Yes, I love new nice bath towels! My professional work career has centered around IT mnagement/application support and accounting. I was employed for almost 30 years with a French owned company call Vallourec. Paris, France based Vallourec is a global pipe and steel concern with operations worldwide. After taking a year sabbatical, currently, I am pursuing opportunities in business administration support consulting and SAP application support.

2. What was it like for you to grow up stuttering?

Well, it was challenging  to say the least! As with most people who stutter, there were the deeply embarrassing situations with my speech, the hard blocks, frustration, fear of speaking, and secondaries.  My family was understanding and accepting of my stutter, because on my maternal side stuttering was prevalent. My maternal grandmother, uncle, and a cousin all stutter. So, my family actually did not pay too much attention to my stuttering. In fact, they treated it almost as normal.   Not fitting the stereotype of southerners, my family actually spoke very fast. Of course, that made it more difficult to talk or get a word in during family gatherings and discussions.

I first recognized my speech was different and I had a stutter when on first day of class in second grade, my teacher did roll call. I stood up and could not say my name. And, yes, the kids laughed at me. That was hard and for many years after that I would hear the laughter of friends and foes directed toward my stutter and sometimes the relentless teasing! However, my stutter did not destroy me.

The reason it did not destroy me is because my family never allowed me to feel sorry for myself or that I was less than anyone else. My family, mainly my mother, made sure I felt I could still do and be anything I wanted to be.

There were many critical and pivotal moments in my life with my stuttering. One major moment was in college when I was part of a team assigned the responsibility of presenting results of a fictitious/faux company we managed in an organizational management class, I stuttered severely.  I was only given 3 minutes to present my portion, it took at least 1.5 minutes just to say my name.  I was so scared, sweaty hands, silent blocks, not breathing properly, totally embarrassed and ashamed.   It was the worst day of my life. Needlessly to say, I did not receive a passing grade on the presentation part of the course.  Fortunately, I did well enough on the content and written exams that I managed to pass the course.

3. What made you interested in becoming a Stutter Social host?

I participated in stutter social sessions for a year and half and enjoyed the experience. The opportunity to speak with friends and other people from all over the world was awesome.

Stutter social sessions are like mini-NSA meetings.  In addition, it gives you an opportunity to practice your speech therapy techniques in a safe environment. I wanted to contribute to the Stutter Social group, my time and experience as a former NSA chapter leader and meeting facilitator, in the role of Stutter Social host.

4.  Do you have any advice for people who stutter?

My advice to people who stutter is to be open to looking at your Stuttering as a journey!  I feel that many things impact our stuttering but the most important factor in our stuttering is US. Join a support group for people who stutter.  In USA, join the NSA. There is no better organization for people who stutter.  If you can not attend a support group meeting then join a Stutter Social session.

Introducing new Stutter Social host, Michael Molino

Let's meet Michael Molino, new Stutter Social host! Michael hosts Wednesdays alternating with Heather Najman.

1. Tell us about yourself.

I was born a raised in San Jose, CA.  After graduating from Live Oak high school I attend Evergreen Community College in San Jose. With a couple years of getting very little accomplished I joined the Navy. My initial thoughts were to go see the world, have some fun, and maybe after few years I’d become more disciplined in the world of academia. After 24 years of naval service I settled down in Sacramento and it just so happened that California State University Sacramento has a Speech Pathology program. I graduated with a B.S. in Speech Pathology and Audiology in 2014 and am currently in my 2nd year of their Speech Pathology Graduate program.

2. What was it like for you to grow up stuttering?

I didn’t realize I stuttered until the 3rd grade. We had split up into reading groups and I then noticed I was not the same as a couple people had laughed as I was reading. From that point on I remember going to speech therapy until the 7th grade. Speech therapy at that point was shameful, which is the reason why I chose to stop going. I was pretty quiet as a child, which I find odd these days as I tend to talk a lot.

3. What made you interested in becoming a Stutter Social host?

I am currently the Sacramento chapter leader for the NSA as well as former chapter leader for Seattle. I have been on Stutter Social from time to time over the past couple years. I like the dynamic of the hangouts. I like how they are organic in nature and topics can develop into something much meaningful from hangout participants than initially intended. I like sharing and listening to stuttering journeys.

4. Do you have any advice for people who stutter?

I consider myself very open about my stuttering now as opposed to when I was younger. This doesn’t mean that I still don’t feel the struggle at times. All I can say is that when moments of struggle hit me, I usually take a moment to think about what is going on and then carry on. Talking about my struggles with somebody else who stutters helps tremendously.

Stuttering is not defining. I constantly see negative posts on social media in regards to stuttering… And until we embrace our speech, we will only see the negatives. Two negatives make a positive, right! So get out there and be positive!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Stutter Social hosts interviewed on Stuttering is Cool podcast

Hi there! Daniele Rossi here, co-founder of Stutter Social. In my spare time, I produce the Stuttering is Cool podcast and recently I've featured a seven-part series interviewing our awesome Stutter Social hosts asking them to share their go-to methods for stuttering survival and resilience.

It can be very difficult to live with stuttering every day and there's no cure. So the best thing we all collectively agree upon is building up resilience to fears of stuttering one small step at a time. Plus, hanging out with others who stutter.

Many thanks to the Stutter Social hosts for sharing their tips! Links to each of the interviews are below.

Part 1 – The phone, dating, jobs, small talk

You’re making a phone call and growing more anxious about stuttering with each ring. What do you do? Learning telephone survival tips and mastering other speaking situations in dating, job interviews, small talk, even body language and overtly stuttering your name can help! I chat with Christine Dits who share these methods which help her deal with stuttering and building resilience. We also talk about introvert and extroverts who stutter and where they get their energy in social situations.

Part 2 – Show your stutter who’s boss

Hanan Hurwitz explains how there’s no special secret to beating stuttering. Achieving this is unconditional self-acceptance, non-avoidance, non-judgement, and living in the moment. Shame is debilitating. Stuttering isn't your fault. Accept yourself first then others will be able to.

Part 3 – Give yourself permission not to be perfect every day

Annie Bradberry shares the methods she uses to prevent her speech from getting in the way of her life, work, and play. Annie explains how she strives to stutter more cleanly, keeps in mind all the efforts she made over the years, giving yourself permission to stutter and to not to be perfect every day. You can have success again!

Part 4 – Focusing on the positive stuttering experiences

Everything will be alright. Really! Chad Mannisi, shares his tips on how to live a full, rich life in spite of stuttering. For instance, Chad purposely chose to present about stuttering in school to raise awareness and answer questions students might have been afraid to ask; he keeps in mind that no one is truly judging him; he also noticed that fluenters didn't seem to dwell too much when they stumbled on their words so he figured why should he.

Part 5 – Don’t beat yourself up if you have a stuttery day

You’re going to stutter. It’s part of the package. So don’t beat yourself up if you have a stuttery day. That’s the advice from Pamela Mertz. Pamela hid her stuttering for 30 years until one day she had enough. “You’ll lessen the load and anxiety but just being yourself and stuttering openly. And it makes you a more interesting person, more unique”.

Part 6 – Life isn't perfect. Be the best person you can be

Part time host, Elaine Robin, reminds us that nobody is perfect and everyone’s life journey is different. We need to be gentle on ourselves when stuttering happens or when we miss opportunities to advocate or educate. After all, we're only human. Elaine and I also chat about the benefits of facing your fears, positive self-talk, and talking to others who stutter.

Part 7 – You are so much more than your stutter

Nicely completing my Stutter Social interview series, former host, Anita Blom, shares her stuttering survival and resilience tips which includes, talking about your stutter, meeting other stutterers, not comparing yourself to others, and everything is a life lesson.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Stutter Social Q+A with the Broca Brothers

On Thursday, September 17, we had the pleasure of chatting with Stuart and Hille of the Broca Brothers in our latest YouTube live broadcast. Hailing from the Netherlands, the duo has been producing videos – which have earned a lot of views shortly after being posted – featuring pep talks on keeping up with speaking goals and tips on maintaining a positive outlook towards stuttering.

Hosted by co-founders David Resnick and Daniele Rossi and the community manager for the Stutter Social mobile app, Christine Dits, we delved a little further into the personalities behind Stuart and Hille, their motivations for producing their videos, and tips on coping with stuttering.

During our hour long conversation, topics covered include how they got started with their videos, the impact making their videos had on themselves and their family and friends, the power of daily affirmations, acceptance versus fluency, and the ups and downs of stuttering.

You can watch the broadcast directly above or on YouTube. Please feel free to continue posting questions or comments. The broadcast may have ended, but the conversation can certainly continue. Happy watching!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Save the date! Stutter Social YouTube broadcast with the Broca Brothers

Photo of the Broca Brothers
Broca Brothers, Hille (left) and Stuart (right).

As countless of us head back to school and work, the end of summer and beginning of fall brings in a new era of successes, challenges and venturing out of our comfort zones. Stutter Social is hosting a Q+A Hangout on Air, to be live streamed on YouTube, with the Broca Brothers on September 17 at 7:00pm EDT (Toronto, New York) about not letting your stuttering get you down.

Hailing from The Netherlands, Broca Brothers Hille, 26, and Stuart, 21, have recently gone viral with videos featuring pep talks on keeping up with speaking goals and tips on maintaining a positive outlook.

Both brothers stuttered severely when they were growing up. However, they took matters into their own hands and became proactive in doing something about their speech, not letting it hold them back.

We’ll be chatting with the Broca Brothers about their experiences with stuttering as they share their tips for others. While the Hangout will only be available to panelists, we invite anyone watching on YouTube to share their questions – which we’ll ask the Hangout – and comments on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter (with the #pwschat hashtag). The link to the broadcast will be posted on our Facebook event page, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

In the meantime, please RSVP on our Facebook event page and check out some of the Broca Brothers’ videos for your viewing pleasure. We hope to see you watching the broadcast on YouTube!