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!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Stutter Social Stories: Kelly Tabra from Peru

Let's get to know another Stutter Social regular! We introduce you to Kelly Tabra, a Stutter Social participant and person who stutters (PWS), who lives in the beautiful country of Peru.

1. Tell us about yourself
My name is Kelly Tabra. I am 26 years old. I am from Trujillo, Peru. I am a psychologist who works in marketing and entrepreneurship. And I am a person who stutters.

2. What are your hobbies?
Reading, especially about human behavior, poetry and different genres of novels; watching horror and drama movies and series and, finally, writing. Currently, I am collaborating with psychological articles for a journal of my city.

3. What's your "stuttering history" like? What was it like growing up as a PWS?
I started to stutter when I was five years old. My journey was quite difficult but interesting. I summarize it in three phases:

  • First, lack of knowledge about stuttering and denial; 
  • Later, when I became older, I understood stuttering to destroy it; and
  • Finally, I understood stuttering to accept it.
Right now, I can say that I am PWS with the challenges and risks that it supposes, I feel more comfortable in speaking situations and try to assume my stutterer identity.

4. How did you find about Stutter Social and what made you give it a try? 
A couple of months ago, I searched for real-time discussion platforms about stuttering.  I wasn't sure if something like this existed in the Internet. That's why I can't describe my joy when I found Stutter Social and I read about the Hangouts with PWS.  In that moment, I knew that it would be the beginning of a great experience because I wanted to see and hear another PWS just like me.

5. How did Stutter Social help you?
Stutter Social helped in many ways: not only in accepting my stuttering but also making me feel that I am not alone in my journey; that there many PWS around the world who have the same challenges and struggles as me; and that each PWS, no matter how he or she thinks and feels about stuttering, is part of this lovely community. I feel very grateful for the support and also happy because I am improving my English skills.

6. What tips would you give to other people who stutter? 
Be a person more critical with theories, treatments and stories about stuttering. There are more questions than answers about stuttering. So, try to be cautious and use the knowledge and resources which are useful for you – only for your personal journey. Acceptance is valuable. The more you deny, fight and resist stuttering, the more stuttering becomes bigger and takes the control of your life. Don’t let that happen.

Many thanks for Kelly for allowing us to interview her for our blog. If you haven't given our Stutter Social Hangouts a try, what are you waiting for? Check our website for our Hangout schedule. We hope to see you in a Hangout soon!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Stutter Social Stories: Rahul Hirani

We continue our Stutter Social Stories series with an interview with regular hangout participant, Rahul Hirani, from Gwalior, India. As someone who accepts what life throws at him, Rahul shares how he made sure his stuttering didn't prevent him from achieving great marks in school.

1. Tell us about yourself.

I'm currently pursuing a Bachelor of Technology degree in computer science. Honestly, I look at myself as a 10 year old trapped in a 19 year old body. Programming, reading novels and writing diaries are my first love. I've been stuttering since I was 4 but it never really mattered to me until I entered into my teenage years.

2. What are your hobbies? 

I like to explore things. If I'm interested in a particular subject, I'd dive deep in it and if not, I'd not even care reading about it. These are some things I've always loved to do:
  • Reading books, as they help me to dream the farthest reaches of the my brain. 
  • Writing. It slows down my brain and helps me to think better.  
  • Playing cricket. Sports have played a great role in my life. It has taught me the value of team work and has helped me to evolve as a leader.
  • Last but not the least, speaking. I love to make my friends laugh at my jokes. Yes I stammer when I speak to them, but the delight of making them smile makes my day. 
3. What was your "stuttering history" like? What was it like growing up as a person who stutters?

Growing up as a stammerer was never easy. I was 4 when my parents first noticed that I found it hard to speak a word. I used to repeat the first syllable of the word. People said it's normal and kids often do that during the early ages. Some of them even gave references of some Baba (persons who are believed to possess magical powers but are actually fake). But the most hilarious moment came when a doctor told my parents that I do it for fun and even my parents should talk to me like that. I was 7 that time. Everyone in my family started stammering every time they talked to me for some days, but even that didn't help.

As my age was increasing, my stutter was becoming a major concern for me and my parents. During my early teenage years my stammering rose severely and I struggled a lot at my school.

Sometimes, I even used my stutter to its advantage. During my oral exams if I didn't know the answer to some question, I just used to bounce on some letter so that it appears to the teacher that I know the answer but I'm unable to speak it. I fetched a lot of marks during my school time by using this trick.

But soon friends started disappearing and I found myself living alone. Life in this aspect was very hard. I was teased by my mates. It was fun for them but it had very negative effect on a 15 year old, who just needed their attention. And therefore I never had a so called "best friend" in my life. I learned to live alone and enjoy myself. Books and diaries became my best friend. I had a imaginary world of my own.

4. How did You find about Stutter Social and what made you give it a try?

A year ago, I was randomly searching on the Internet for some people like me whom I can connect to
and the almighty didn't disappoint me. I found Stutter Social, logged in to Facebook and became a fan of the page. A random post in the group mentioned about the Google+ hangout. In excitement, I clicked the link and went into the hangout but sadly "the party was over". I reviewed its time on the website and found only Wednesday hangouts to be compatible with my schedule, as the other ones are held at 5:00 a.m. Indian Standard time. I was super exited about the following Wednesday.

The day arrived and I logged in. Eight persons were already in and I was the ninth. Hanan Hurwitz, the host, welcomed me and asked me to introduce myself. My heart started beating fast. I started and stuttered on almost every word I spoke. It was my first experience on hangouts and it didn't turn out to be good. But slowly and steadily I improved.

One thing that I personally like about Stutter Social hangouts is that you get a chance to introduce yourself every time someone joins the hangout.

5. How did Stutter Social help you?

Stutter Social has helped me a lot. Not only through the hangout but also by the people who run it. I made a lot of friends who I communicate with every time I feel down. The hosts, Hanan and Pamela are one of the best people I have met. We often chat on Facebook and share a lot of useful information, and that certainly helps us to know more about each other's lives.

6. What tips would you give other PWS?
  • Your stammering doesn't define your personality. We all are different in some aspect or the other. Just accept yourself the way you are and start enjoying what life throws at you.
  • Always speak when needed. Remember, you are for yourself. People may help you sometimes but in the longer run it's you who has to decide your destiny.
  • Never speak unnecessarily. People may advise you to speak as much as you can, but never do that unless what you are speaking has a positive effect on your mind. We can speak negative things far more fluently than the positive ones. But that isn't healthy for our brain, and brain is everything.
  • This one is my favourite – to achieve something you've never had before, you must do something you have never done before.