Jeff opened the meeting by reading the Welcoming Words. This meeting was our second this year! Typically we meet once a month, but because of the holidays (and our December meeting happening literally ON Christmas – 4th Thursday of the month!) we didn’t meet in December and chose to meet twice in January.
We had 12 PWS and 4 PWNS in attendance. As we do every month, we had some new faces and some familiar faces around the table. We welcomed EMILY, our youngest attendee so far at 13 years of age. A Portland State University graduate student, also named Emily, and her faculty mentor, Andy McMillin, are in the process of starting a teen support group that we were happy to tell this Emily about- just so she knows about this exciting development in the near future. We went around the room and introduced ourselves and filled each other in on some things we were “working on” over the past few weeks – speaking techniques, taking more opportunities to voluntarily stutter, getting ready for university classes, and so on.
Michael, our facilitator for the week, opened up the discussion with a quote from Joseph Sheehan, a speech-language pathologist who specializes in stuttering from UCLA. This quote really spoke to Michael and he really wanted to share it with the group.
The stutterer who moves easily at one stage in therapy becomes unaccountably bogged down at another. Apparently, improvement and recovery in themselves involve role changes calling for difficult adjustments. The stutterer may become disappointed in the results of his new partial fluency, due to the loss of protective functions and secondary gains. He finds that he is not a "giant in chains" but an ordinary mortal who has many other limitations which had been obscured by his stuttering along with some of his capabilities. He discovers that there are two ways to be disappointed in life. One way is not to get what you wish for. The other way is to get it.
Several PWS discussed the idea of social skill development – that because of their stuttering, there has been “time lost” in terms of learning the “soft skills” of entering conversations, maintaining eye contact, being a good listener (instead of just thinking about your response and how you’re going to say it), and how so many communication skills / behaviors are tied up in stuttering in some way or another. Disruptions in rhythm of conversations, including telling jokes and “perfect timing” were other ideas that were discussed. We spoke about voluntary stuttering and how it can be used as both a disclosure or desensitization technique, but also as a way to increase fluency (ironically!). Some recent pop-culture examples of stuttering were also brought up, including the recent video of the young man who was auditioning for American Idol (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLdg9FMp7f8), the MTV show “True Life: I stutter” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZmYDhuQerk) (part 1/3, other parts are available also) and some great books, including “Knotted Tongues” by Benson Bobrick (http://www.amazon.com/Knotted-Tongues-Stuttering-History-Kodansha/dp/1568361211), “Living with Stuttering” by Kenneth St. Louis (http://www.amazon.com/Living-Stuttering-Triumph-Kenneth-St-Louis/dp/0965269949/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358922902&sr=1-1&keywords=living+with+stuttering), and finally some movies including “War Eagle Arkansas” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0840406/), “Parental Guidance” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1047540/), and “Hyde Park on Hudson” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1477855/).
Igor was the reader of the closing words, and we will be looking forward to our next meeting on February 26th, facilitated by Ian!