In honor of International Stuttering Awareness Day on October 22, 2017, our first Fall public speaking workshop was themed “Self-Advocacy” and encouraged participants to explore ways people who stutter can address the stigma of stuttering.
The workshop was inspired by Dr. Michael P. Boyle’s recent research at Montclair State University. His research indicates that face-to-face contact between people who stutter and the general public is one of the most effective anti-stigma strategies for reducing negative attitudes, emotions, and behaviors related to stuttering. Moreover, when compared to other anti-stigma techniques, contact yields the greatest effects that endured over time. This strategy results in people becoming more comfortable with stuttering and realizing that people who stutter were fundamentally no different from anyone else.
Hector, a regular at our workshops and also at Toastmasters, volunteered to share his experience. Here are his reflections and his speech:
The task in this workshop was to write a speech about self-advocacy, but I found that even sitting down to think about what I wanted to say was really challenging. I procrastinated probably because of how mentally exhausting the topic was for me. Self-advocacy can mean many different things to people. To me it means standing up for myself and being assertive about who I am and how I speak. That can be challenging in environments where it’s best to be seen and not heard or in places where it’s best not to “rock the boat.” But self-advocacy doesn’t have to be showy, demonstrative, or loud. The workshop really reinforced the fact that self-advocacy is a personal choice of how you want to accept yourself and how you want to portray that to others. It’s not easy but we all deserve it!
The American Institute for Stuttering is a leading non-profit organization whose primary mission is to provide universally affordable, state-of-the-art speech therapy to people of all ages who stutter, guidance to their families, and much-needed clinical training to speech professionals wishing to gain expertise in stuttering. Offices are located in New York, NY and Atlanta, GA, and services are also available Online. Our mission extends to advancing public and scholarly understanding of this often misunderstood disorder.