Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pong Down Under

Photo credit: Grant Meredith
Every time Grant Meredith comes into a Stutter Social hangout, those in the group who haven't previously met him enthusiastically ask about the gaming posters adorning his walls.

A lecturer in multimedia and games design at the University of Ballarat in Australia, Grant is also an avid collector of game consoles.

“I have about 200 or more consoles," explains Grant. “Most of them are basically Pong. And a different version of Pong. And another different version of Pong!” he laughs. “My Pong powers are such that I play myself at Pong. Right hand versus left hand.”

When he is not playing Pong or tending to his other important responsibilities of life, the father of two enjoys hanging out with his fellow stutterers on Stutter Social. It gives him easy access to a support group since the nearest one is about 100 km away from where he lives.

“Stutter Social makes it basically a button press away. I guess because in my country, everyone is so widely dispersed and it's really hard to get a number of people who stutter online at the same time.”

Along with the international participants in the hangouts, Grant is drawn to the ease being able to talk to other people who stutter around the world in an open environment, “and a non-judgemental one. I like the fact that it's not technique-orientated because that's normally more exclusive then. I'd class this service as inclusive. It is open to anybody who stutters in any shape or form.”

It's also that open environment that Grant says makes it easy for first timers to quickly feel at home.

“I can understand how it can be a scary step for some first timers,” he ponders. “You might not be comfortable stuttering in front of other stutterers. You might not want to put your hand up and talk at various times, but it's a brave step you should be taking.”

“[Stutter Social] is a non-pressure-filled environment and nothing will be held against you. You don't have to use any form of technique. You can practically talk about any topic, too, and everyone there is friendly and fun.”

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