Friday, October 18, 2013

Stutter Social, ISA to host three Hangouts on Air for International Stuttering Awareness Day on October 22

Photo credit: International Stuttering Association (ISA)
International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) 2013 is around the corner on October 22! In recognition of ISAD and to raise awareness of stuttering, Stutter Social is teaming up with the International Stuttering Association (ISA) to host three Hangouts on Air -- in other words, they will be streamed live on YouTube.

In three separate Hangouts, participants from around the world will be chatting for an hour about all things related to stuttering. For those interested in learning more about stuttering, they will also be fielding questions from anyone watching on YouTube.

The Hangouts will all take place on October 22 at 8pm in three different time zones -- Eastern Daylight Time (U.S), British Summer Time and Eastern Daylight Time (Australia), respectively.

Stay tuned for updates via the Twitter, Facebook and Google+ pages, as we will be circulating the links to the Hangouts and YouTube broadcasts there. Those watching who want to submit questions to the participants can do so via YouTube, Facebook, Google+ or Twitter with the #pwschat hashtag.

Whether it's in the Hangouts or watching on YouTube, we would love to have you celebrate ISAD with us and the ISA!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Introducing two new hosts: Anita "Scatsis" Blom and Hanan Hurwitz

Left: Anita "Scartcis" Blom (photo credit: Blom); 
right: Hanan Hurwitz (photo credit: Hurwitz)
Stutter Social is pleased to announce two new additions to its lineup of hosts: Anita "Scatsis" Blom from Sweden and Hanan Hurwitz from Israel.

Blom works as the operations manager at the Workers' Educational Association and has stuttered since she was nine years old. She was 27 years old when she first met another person who stutters. "From that moment on, I no longer let stuttering control my life, but to take charge of myself," Blom explains. "I got rid of a huge backpack with bullying, guilt and shame, and became active on local, national and international boards." As she says, she recycled "all that luggage to support other people who stutter, and to give stuttering a face and passionate voice with young people being closest to my heart."

She heard about Stutter Social through the grapevine on social media and wanted to get involved. "I love to be where people who stutter meet, most of all at international gatherings," she says. "This was the perfect opportunity to meet people from all over the world, but this time in my very own living room."

When hosting Stutter Social hangouts, Blom says she hopes to "talk about stuttering and therapy, but also about cultures, experiences, fears and joys, as we need not to forget how to enjoy life with stuttering and all. I hope to bring people together, share stories, learn from and support each other."

When not hosting Stutter Social, Blom can be seen either working or engaged in one of her many stuttering-related endeavours. She is the international contact and former chairperson of the Swedish Stuttering Association, vice-chair of the European League of Stuttering Associations, and member of the advisory board of the International Stuttering Association. "But I try to find time for my family, my dog, my saxophone, my books and social media," she adds.

And in case you're wondering, her nickname, "Scatsis," is dedicated to the late Scatman John of the 1995 hit "Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)."

Meanwhile, Hurwitz is a product and account manger at an electronics manufacturing company, and has also stuttered since his childhood. "I am at a point in my stuttering journey where I can give back to the stuttering community and try to support other PWS [people who stutter]," he says. After hearing about Stutter Social from his friends at the National Stuttering Association, he became inspired to become a host.

In terms of what he looks forward to about hosting, he says it's the opportunity to "enable other PWS to feel that we are not alone and that we can survive in spite of our disability."

When not working or hosting Stutter Social, Hurwitz enjoys reading, playing his Fender Stratocaster guitar, and meeting PWS worldwide. "I [also] am interested in business and engineering, and mentoring start-up or small companies in order to build organizational excellence into the company from the start," he adds.

Blom and Hurwitz will be hosting Wednesday's international hangout at 2pm Eastern Standard Time/8pm Central European Time. Starting an hour earlier than the previous Wednesday hangouts, they are taking over from Kenyatta Butler and Krishna Srinivasan, who are stepping down temporarily to pursue new educational and professional endeavors. While we're sad to see them ago, we wish them the best of luck, and we're excited to have Blom and Hurwitz on the Stutter Social team.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Introducing two more new hosts: Annie Bradberry and Pamela Mertz

Left: Annie Bradberry (photo credit: Bradberry);
right: Pamela Mertz (photo credit: Ali Salem)
Stutter Social is also proud to announce two more additions to its lineup of hosts: Annie Bradberry from California and Pamela Mertz from New York.

Bradberry is a person who stutters from Tustin, California and former executive director of the National Stuttering Association (NSA), which she first heard about as a teenager. "At that time, I was not ready to face [my stuttering] or let alone call someone, so I did nothing for two years," she says. "We didn't have Stutter Social, Facebook, or even texting back then. When I finally did pick up the phone, my entire world changed. I am blessed to say that I have been involved in the stuttering community for my entire adult life."

It was on Facebook at the NSA conference that she first heard about Stutter Social. "I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of," she says. "I thought back to the beginning of my stuttering journey when there were no social media outlets. I remembered feeling alone and isolated, as well as remembering how it felt the first time I spoke to and met another stutterer. [It's] amazing to connect with people from all over the world."

In her spare time, Bradberry says she has taken up painting "as a way to de-stress from [her] crazy lifestyle." An avid traveller, she has also been "fortunate to meet people from all over the world, traveling to stuttering conferences in Iceland, Norway, Belgium and a few other places."

Meanwhile, Mertz, a person who stutters and program manager in adult education from Albany, New York, also learned about Stutter Social through social media. Since then, she has participated in many hangouts. "I enjoy having the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life who share the experience of stuttering," she says. "I like having an option for a virtual support group, as we all need an opportunity to be open, share, and learn from each other."

When not working, hosting, or participating in Stutter Social, Mertz, a self-professed theatre geek and writer, can be seen taking in a show or writing for her local newspaper. She also manages the blog Make Room for the Stuttering and hosts the podcast Women Who Stutter: Our Stories. "I enjoy hearing people's stories and helping people find a way to tell their stories," she says.

Bradberry and Mertz will be hosting the Sunday evening hangout, alternating every week at a new time: 7:30 PM Eastern Standard Time (Toronto, New York).

Introducing one of our new hosts: John Robinson

Photo credit: John Robinson
Stutter Social is happy to announce the first recent addition in its latest lineup of hosts: John Robinson from Oklahoma.

Robinson is a person who stutters and speech therapist, who works with the geriatric population of a nursing home in Oklahoma City. He first heard about Stutter Social last year after a Google search of self-help for people who stutter, and has participated in many hangouts since. He says he "really likes talking about stuttering and listening to what other people's views on stuttering are."

After several months of participating, he decided to step up to become a Stutter Social host. For the last few months, he has been hosting every other Tuesday at 8:30 PM Eastern Standard Time (Toronto, New York), alternating with Matt Schreifels.

He says he took up hosting because he "wanted to challenge his speech" and meet other folks who stutter.

When not hosting or participating in Stutter Social, Robinson, who enjoys all things fitness-related, can be seen working out. He is also the former leader of the National Stuttering Association chapter in Wichita, Kansas.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Recap of National Stuttering Awareness Week Hangout on Air

To celebrate National Stuttering Awareness Week, Stutter Social broadcasted a Hangout on Air yesterday, featuring a panel of participants from across the international stuttering community, to raise awareness.

Participants included folks who stutter from Canada, the United States and India. 

Debbie Horovitch from Toronto, and someone who doesn’t stutter, also joined the fun to learn more about stuttering. “I really don’t have a lot of awareness around it," Horovitch said. "I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what causes it.”

“The purpose of this Hangout is to raise awareness about stuttering,” said Stutter Social co-founder David Resnick, from Los Angeles, as he kicked off the Hangout. “There are a lot of misconceptions out there because people are either misinformed or under-informed. They haven’t ever spoken to someone who stutters. This is an opportunity for people who stutter and don’t stutter alike to ask questions, to learn, share experiences and knowledge.”

Topics included what stuttering is, how it feels like, eye contact, and common myths and misconceptions around stuttering.

Pamela Mertz, a participant from New York, defined stuttering as “the involuntary disruption of the normal flow of speech,” which can manifest itself in different ways for each person.

Mertz’s stuttering manifests itself in terms of repetitions, prolongations and blocks (when words don’t come out), she says. “It’s definitely involuntary and I think it’s important to note that because it’s not our fault. It’s not something that we’re to blame for. It’s just the way that we speak. It’s a different form of communication.”

In terms of what it feels like, Resnick said it’s like a “disconnect between the mechanism that is formulating speech and thoughts, and the mechanism that gets the word out. It’s as though someone put a cement wall in there and I’ve got to pull it down every time it comes up. It takes a lot of energy. Stuttering can be exhausting.”

Stutter Social co-founder Mitchell Trichon, also from New York, likened stuttering to an iceberg.  While stuttering involves repetitions, prolongations and blocks, that’s only what we see, he says. There’s also what’s under the surface – the emotions, which can include embarrassment, shame or guilt. “Stuttering can be disabling,” he said. “However, it doesn’t have to be. I’ve seen people with severe stutters be great communicators. It’s important to realize that.”

Participants also chatted about maintaining eye contact while stuttering. "I realized how very intimate it is to be speaking to someone and looking at them in the eye and stuttering," Resnick said.

While it can be a challenge, Trichon offered another reason why folks who stutter often lose eye contact: privacy. "I've heard stuttering described as a feeling of being naked in front of someone and the person is giving them their privacy while that happens," he said.

As stuttering is shrouded in mystery, there are many myths about the causes of stuttering, which, as Resnick says, can include being nervous or not knowing what we want to say.

For instance, Dustin Linkins, a participant from Fort Myers, Florida, said stuttering may be viewed as a sign of weakness. “As a police officer prior to my current job, I would stutter on a traffic stop. People would ask me, ‘are you talking that way because you’re scared of me?’ I would say, ‘I’ve been stuttering since I was five years old. You really don’t scare me.’”

Mertz said it’s important for people to realize that they can reframe stuttering as a strength. “Stuttering can make you memorable. People know who I am , where I work because I’m the one that stutters. For a while, that was not what I wanted to be perceived as. Now I can look at with ‘God, they know who I am! They remember who I am!’ That can be be a real strength in today’s world.”

The Hangout is available for viewing on YouTube and is embedded above.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Stutter Social hosting Q+A Hangout on Air for National Stuttering Awareness Week

In celebration of National Stuttering Awareness Week, on Thursday at 8:30 PM EST (Toronto, New York), Stutter Social is hosting a live Q+A Hangout on Air with a panel of participants from across the international stuttering community to give others a chance to learn about stuttering.

Did we say live? Yes, we did. The Hangout will be live streamed (and archived) on YouTube. Unlike some of our other Hangouts, we invite anyone - including those who don't stutter - to watch the live feed and submit any questions they may have. Panel participants will be discussing a range of topics, including what stuttering is, how it feels to stutter, and stuttering myths and misconceptions.

The link to the live feed will be posted on our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ channels. So watch the fun, submit your questions and learn more about stuttering! And don't forget to RSVP on our Facebook event page!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Top 10 benefits of stuttering

Keeping with Stutter Social's vision of connecting people who stutter from around the world and seeing them empowered, Thursday night's Google+ Hangout featured a discussion about the benefits of stuttering.

Participants created a list of 10 benefits and opportunities that stuttering brings.

1. It makes us compassionate.
    One participant suggested in the Hangout that having a stutter makes us humble and gives us a sense of empathy for other people and their issues.

    2. It allows us to meet others from around the world.
      Another participant highlighted that, if he hadn't stuttered, he wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people from around the world and share experiences with them.

      3. It lets us overcome challenges.
        In other words, having a stutter makes us overcome obstacles and challenges that even fluent people may be afraid of doing, such as public speaking.

        4. It makes you dedicated to improving yourself.
          Not to say that stuttering needs improving, but being someone who stutters provides us with a sense of persistence and dedication to being the best person that we can be.

          5. It makes us memorable.
            Let's face it - people usually remember who we are due to the fact we stutter. It's an interesting, exciting trait to have.

            6. Stuttering makes us consider what's important to us.
              It teaches us how to prioritize and achieve our goals, which, for one participant, includes practicing breathing, working on his physique and improving his life in general.

              7. As people who stutter, learning how to deal with problems makes us feel more liberated.

                Similarly, as another participant suggested, learning how to achieve the goals that we set out and deal with any issues can provide us with feelings of liberation.

                8. Stuttering gives us a sense of discipline.

                  For another participant, stuttering has made him more disciplined. "I wouldn't be as disciplined to work towards my goals if I didn't stutter," he said. 

                  9. Stuttering has opened up career paths.

                    Another participant has said he wouldn't have pursued a rewarding career in speech-language pathology if he wasn't a person who stutters. 

                    10. Stuttering has taught us how to value effective communication.

                      Last but not least, a participant also highlighted that stuttering teaches us how to get our message across effectively.

                      Do you think there are any benefits to stuttering? Are there opportunities you feel you would have missed out on if you didn't stutter? Please feel free to share your thoughts below.

                      Saturday, March 16, 2013

                      Stutter Social #PWSchat - Surviving the telephone

                      On Monday, March 11, people who stutter from around the world converged on Twitter to discuss their phone survival tactics and how communication on social media affects their lives. The discussion, hosted by Stutter Social, took place under the #PWSchat hashtag and was Stutter Social's first weekly live Twitter chat for people who stutter. These Twitter chats will serve as a standing archive of real peoples' feelings, ideas and stories about stuttering. If you missed last Monday's #PWSchat, here's the Storify:
                      This Monday's #PWSchat at 9PM EST will focus on disclosing your stuttering (specific questions will be revealed at the start of the chat). We hope to see you then!

                      Wednesday, March 6, 2013

                      Join us Monday for Stutter Social's first live Twitter chat!

                      Stutter Social is hosting its first-ever live Twitter chat about stuttering on Monday, March 11 at 9PM EST (Toronto, New York).

                      For an hour on Monday, we'll be chatting all about phone survival tactics! We'll ask a series of questions pertaining to the topic, and anyone will be able to answer and offer their thoughts using the #PWSChat hashtag.

                      We hope this will be the start of a weekly Twitter chat, in which we'll have a topic of the week. It will be a great opportunity for us to share our thoughts on a range of topics related to stuttering.

                      So, if you're on Twitter, remember to follow us @stuttersocial. If you're not on Twitter, it's easy to create a free account from the main website. And if you're unable to make it to our first Twitter chat on Monday, not to worry! You'll be able to chime into the discussion at any time with the #PWSChat hashtag.

                      We hope to see you then!

                      Tuesday, January 29, 2013

                      Introducing our new host: Matt Schreifels

                      Photo credit: Matt Schreifels
                      Stutter Social is happy to announce a new addition to its lineup of hosts: Matt Schreifels, a participant from Minnesota.

                      Schreifels, a 32-year-old person who stutters from St. Cloud, Minnesota, first heard about Stutter Social almost a year ago from a podcast about stuttering. "Before giving (it) a try, I was pretty nervous about what sort of interactions I'd have with other participants within the hangout," he says. "But from the moment I entered the hangout, everyone was very welcoming and friendly. Stutter Social hangouts are an extremely laid back environment. It's a chance to be with other like-minded people who stutter, a place to be who we are without hesitation."

                      After participating for about 10 months, Schreifels decided to become a host. "What made me want to become a Stutter Social host was the chance to meet and make friends with as many stutterers worldwide as possible."

                      He will be hosting every other Tuesday at 8:30 PM Eastern Standard Time (Toronto, New York), alternating with co-founder Daniele Rossi.

                      When not hosting or participating in Stutter Social, Schreifels can be seen hunting or fishing. He aspires to have his own furniture-building workshop. He also started attending the recently established St. Cloud chapter of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) and he hopes to attend the upcoming NSA annual conference in Scottsdale, Arizona this July. "I feel support groups of any kind are such a great asset," he adds.