Be Memorable


Pam MertzAbout the author:  
Pamela Mertz is a person who stutters who is actively involved with the global stuttering community. She has helped to facilitate workshops at many stuttering conferences, including one international one. She recently spoke at an Open Day of the Irish Stammering Association. Pam hosts the podcast “Women Who Stutter: Our Stories,” writes the blog “Make Room For The Stuttering,” and is a Stutter Social host. During the day, she works as a recruiter and career development specialist in a high school near Albany, NY.

What if I told you that being known for our stuttering is not such a bad thing? Our uniqueness can make us memorable, if we give ourselves permission to just let go and embrace what makes us different. Stuttering can make us memorable. Yes, stuttering!

I gave a talk titled “Be Memorable” at the National Stuttering Association annual conference held in Washington DC in early July 2014. I helped organize a ‘TED Talks” workshop, where 8 people gave talks about some aspect of their stuttering journey. The workshop was well attended and a great success. I received a lot of positive feedback on my talk and decided to share it here for the ISAD conference this year. I have reprised the talk in the following video.

I feel like I am taking a huge risk by contributing in video format rather than just provide written text of my talk. But I am choosing to be vulnerable and hopefully memorable. I welcome your comments and questions about my talk on being memorable. I also welcome your feedback and questions on my actual stuttering too, because after several “takes” with this video, I just decided to go for it and not re-record it for the 10th time! I think that I “stutter very well” in this video. Don’t you agree? 

Thank you for checking in here and watching my talk titled “Be Memorable.”

2,919 total views, 1 views today

Comments

Be Memorable — 115 Comments

  1. Thank you Pam for an excellent speech and message! I agree with your sister. I am jealous of you too! I am all Irish and have never been to Ireland and you got to go because of your stuttering! Lucky you!

    I think it’s true that having challenges can actually be a blessing. It doesn’t matter what those challenges are-it could be weight, poverty, or medical issues. These challenges provide an opportunity for growth. We can embrace them and learn from them. We can develop resiliency. We can grow or we can hide and have a big pity party.

    Its human nature to think, gee, if that person only had my struggles then they’d understand how tough my life is. As a teenager, I was moaning to my brother about my latest problems and he said something I will never forget,“Nancy, we all have problems. Who’s to say that your problems are more or less important than mine? Everyone feels their problem is important, but it’s only because they are dealing with it.” He provided me with a healthy perspective and a dose of compassion.

    Your audience connected to you in a sincere and compassionate manner because you were honest and vulnerable. Everyone is worried about what other people will think and how they will be judged. Will I be accepted or rejected? If people reject you because of you stutter I believe they may reject you for a number of other characteristics. My mother always said to consider the source when a person provided their opinion. She said, don’t assign value to their negative opinion; they aren’t worth the energy. They have missed getting to know you and that is their loss.

    I don’t stutter, however, I remember being challenged in many areas growing up; those challenges made me stronger. They provided me with experiences that made me more compassionate and patient. I feel a connection to anyone who struggles because of my experiences. It helped me on my journey to be a speech language pathologist and work with individuals who stutter!

    Thank you for sharing your story and your heart! You are memorable!

    • Nancy,
      Thanks so much for watching my video and taking the time to write such a thoughtful, insightful comment. I appreciate your honesty. I think we need to embrace whatever it is that makes us special and unique, and therefore memorable.
      I think you probably make a great SLP since you have empathy!
      We communicated years ago about a project that you were working on; don’t know if you remember that.
      Thanks again.

  2. I enjoyed watching your video very much, Pam. Thanks for reprising your previous talk for a wider audience. In answer to your question – yes indeed, I think that you definitely “stutter very well” in this video.
    Best wishes,
    Allan

    • Allan,
      Thanks so much for watching and letting me know me know I stutter well. I’m glad you enjoyed my message. Take care.

  3. Very good story and messages Pam. I have met you in person and you certainly are memorable. I think it is important of course to be memorable also for the correct reasons. But why not use your characteristic to define you? After all, it comprised part of who you are

    • Thanks Grant! I of course don’t think stuttering defines me, but it certainly helps to make me memorable. I’m glad you think I am memorable; you certainly are too. I think when we embrace what makes us unique, we then are memorable for all of the right reasons.

  4. Hi Pam,
    This is Charley Adams using one of my student’s twitter accounts to access this.
    I’m meeting with several students and we just watched your video. The students wanted you to know that you are very inspirational! Lots of takeaways to use with stuttering clients in therapy. Several will be purchasing toe socks this weekend.
    They will also be checking out your blog!
    Thanks again,
    Charley

    • Hi Charley – I am so happy that some of your students watched the video. I really debated about doing a video contribution for ISAD this year, but I wanted to drive home the point that we can use our uniqueness to be memorable, so what better way.
      I do hope your students check out my blog and listen to some podcasts. Feel free to make that a class assignment – everyone has to listen to a podcast episode and leave a comment. (Hint Hint!!)
      And I do hope they find some toe socks – they’re so cool!
      Pam

  5. Hi Pam,

    “Be you” is a wonderful message. Too many of us go to great lengths to hide our true selves. And some “therapist” I have come across recently encourages PWS to adopt a different persona as a means to overcoming their stuttering. This, of course, is an awful approach. Telling the PWS to be themselves, and be memorable, is without a doubt the right approach.

    Thanks a lot.
    Hanan

    • Thank you Hanan. As you know, I hid my true self for so many years, I didn’t know who I really was or what I was like. Being true to myself and showing vulnerability to others has opened up my world, enriched my life and made me a stronger person.
      I hate to think of therapists encouraging people to adopt a different persona to manage their stuttering – that’s not what we need. We need to embrace our self for who we truly are and not be afraid to show that to our world. Thanks for taking time to watch and comment.
      Pam

  6. Loved this video, it gives such a great message. Pam you are an inspiration, and I’m proud to call you my friend.

    • Thank you Christine. Likewise to you about being friends. I am glad I believed in myself enough to go the video route for this year’s ISAD contribution. Talking about vulnerability means also showing it, right?
      Pam

  7. Hi Pam,

    I very much enjoyed your paper and the messages that you conveyed in the video recording. Please be assured that (in keeping with the title of your paper) both were MEMORABLE. 🙂

    Like you, I regularly share my story with audiences that comprise persons who do not stutter. I feel that there are mutual benefits in sharing how stuttering has influenced (or is still influencing) our lives. Revealing my “darkest secrets” to all and sundry has had a hugely desensitizing effect, as well as contributing immensely to greater self-acceptance. I am now able to talk openly about those experiences without any shame, embarrassment or emotional charge.

    Another thing that we have in common is that our talks generate such a positive feedback. Despite the fact that 99.9% of my audiences have no connection with stuttering, those present frequently tell me that (after learning about how I have dealt with my personal adversity) they are similarly inspired to confront challenges that exist in their own lives. I’m sure that you have also been enlightened to discover that there are many common threads affecting persons who stutter and those who don’t.

    The strategies that I have employed (for eliminating avoidances; taking charge of my thoughts; expanding comfort zones; attaining personal growth; changing my mindset; challenging self-limiting beliefs and widening my narrow self-concept) appear to provide encouragement for others (totally unrelated to stuttering) to address their own problems.

    Pam, you continue to work tirelessly to improve the lives of those for whom oral communication can be an issue. You are owed an enormous debt of gratitude.

    Kindest regards

    Alan Badmington

    • Alan,
      Always good to hear from you. Thanks for the very insightful and thoughtful comment. Yes, we are both on a path where we are sharing with others how our journey with stuttering has made us better people. I truly believe that. What we learn from stuttering – being vulnerable, resilience, grit and courage – needs to be shared with others, both those who stutter and those who don’t. I look forward to reading your paper and commenting as well. I have just returned from a trip to California where I had the opportunity to attend a weekend stuttering conference and present a new workshop. I am getting caught up on the ISAD papers.
      Keep doing what you do as well, Alan.
      Pam

  8. Wow! What a great message. Very inspirational and motivating. I never really thought about our challenges being something that makes us unique. This was an eye opening video and something that I will always remember.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Kristin

    • Thanks Kristin – all of us have something that makes us unique and special. I have finally reached the point in my life that it makes more sense to share it rather than try to hide it.
      Pam

    • Thanks Joe. I’m glad you watched my video. I agree with you – honesty and authenticity is where it’s at, but I think it remains hard for a lot of people to really be authentic, as it was for me for a long time.
      Pam

  9. I am in a fluency class and learning about stuttering. Your story was very moving. You inspired me as an aspiring SLP to be memorable. I think your story is amazing you have done so many things to inspire people not only people who stutter. I hope to inspire my future clients those who stutter and those who have other speech and language difficulties to be themselves, because that is what life is about, making it your own and being yourself.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

    Emily

    • Hi Emily – I’m glad to hear that as a future speech therapist you are getting some experience with stuttering. The best help you can offer to future clients is to help them figure out what they truly want. It may not be fluency – it may be acceptance, it may be improved self-esteem or self-love, or a combination of all.
      I learned that myself in therapy – I wasn’t looking for fluency, I was looking for a way to be happy with myself.
      Pam

  10. I love that you chose to be vulnerable by making a video and it was very inspirational and memorable. I think it is great that you embrace your uniqueness and I think we all can take away something from your message. In the video you mentioned that you were not always this way and I was wondering if you ever still have moments of weakness in embracing your stuttering, and if so what helps you to overcome that?

    • Hi Brooke – good question. Yes, I still have those moments sometimes when I wish I didn’t stutter or I feel embarrassed when I block and someone reacts negatively or with confusion.
      What helps me to overcome those moments of shame is to take a deep breath, remember that stuttering is just my way of talking and to remind myself that I am a great communicator. Communication has nothing to do with how fluent we are – it has everything to do with how we convey our message and connect to our listeners. Remembering that helps me in the tougher moments which do crop up from time to time. 🙂

  11. Your speech has been truly inspirational for me on so many different levels, Pam! I believe that you have not only reached out to people who stutter, but also to every single person who has a difference. Your sister and friends are right! You are so lucky you have been able to travel to help educate people, meet so many different people, and be able to truly embrace your difference and make it an asset. In my mind, you are an incredible person.
    I am currently a student in the master’s program for speech-language pathology. We have been discussing the focus on changing perspectives in therapy. Your message really hits this home for me. Being vulnerable is a challenge for everyone, but the advantages are invaluable. I hope I will be able to help others who stutter get to the point where you are at and not only accept themselves, but embrace their uniqueness.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story!

    • Thank you so much for the thoughtful feedback. I really appreciate it.
      At first, when you said I’m an incredible person, I wanted to say, no I’m not.
      But I am.

      • The other half of my comment got lost. I hope you can encourage all of your clients to feel incredible and special just as they are. For me, the feelings of self empowerment are more important than fluency.
        Pam

    • Thanks for watching and taking the time to leave a thoughtful comment. It’s important to believe that we are indeed incredible, and that we need to show that confident, incredible self to the world. When we do that, our listeners follow our cue and stuttering becomes a non-issue.
      Changing perspectives in therapy is so important. It’s not just about fluency and “getting fixed.” It’s about helping people embrace themselves as they are and how they want to be. Good luck!

  12. Hi Pam — I really enjoyed your video. Why is it that we have to get older before we can truly appreciate and even flaunt our uniqueness? Some children do seem to have that ability – that confidence, but so many do not. They just want to fit in and stuttering makes them vulnerable, something they are not necessarily emotionally equipped to deal with in a positive way. How much of this emotional maturity do you think can be taught, how much just comes with age? Any thoughts?

    Dori

    • Hi Dori – thanks for watching and for the great question. I think emotional maturity and confidence can be modeled for children who stutter by adults who stutter. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my journey is that I wished I had been in contact with an adult (or adults) who stutter when I was a kid. I truly think that would have made a big difference to me. I wouldn’t have felt so weird or isolated, and ashamed, if I had met adults who were strong and confident with their stuttering, and who could have modeled that for me. I also think giving kids who stutter every opportunity to talk is a way to build that confidence and emotional maturity.

      I know I’m preaching to the choir with this, but I get so dismayed when I hear therapists or teachers who go out of their way to have the child who stutters NOT speak. It needs to be the opposite. Open conversations about stuttering need to happen in the classroom so that the cws can have judgment free opportunities to speak out and speak up.

      I go into middle schools and do presentations on stuttering so that it can be normalized for kids and teachers. There’s so much more education that needs to be done on stuttering – but the best thing is that one person can make a difference one person at a time.

      Pam

  13. Hello Pam,

    I am currently working on becoming a speech-language pathologist. Thank you for being so vulnerable and uploading a video. It was great to see your smiling face delivering this powerful message! I love your words of “own it, flaunt it, work it!” The lessons you give will be so helpful with my future clients who may stutter. I will make sure to tell them how unique they are and that they shouldn’t fight what makes them different. I hope they can be fully accepting of themselves like you are. You have also inspired me to embrace my differences and work on showing my authentic self. Thank you for everything you are doing.

    Megan

    P.S. toe socks are awesome!

    • Hi Megan,
      I’m glad my talk resonated with you, and that you saw my vulnerability and authenticity. I think people want to be authentic but often are afraid of the consequences, so hold back. I find it’s best for me to just be me. It allows me to move along more freely on my journey.
      Good luck on your journey towards becoming a SLP.
      Pam

  14. Hi Pam,

    What a great message and video! Thank you so much for sharing! As a graduate student in speech and language pathology, I found your video empowering not just for use with clients who stutter, but anyone seeking to be truer to themselves. There is something really invaluable about recognizing and embracing vulnerability. I was wondering about your past experiences with speech therapy – were they positive/neutral/negative? Did your speech therapist(s) encourage you to embrace your stutter? What activities would you recommend speech therapists do with their clients to help them feel empowered and comfortable with who they are?

    Thanks again for sharing such a great story!

    Stephanie

    • Hi Stephanie – thanks for watching and asking good questions. I only had therapy for 6 months in third grade and then nothing again until I was in my 40’s. The childhood therapy was not helpful – I remember the therapist being really nice and I liked her because she had the same name as me, but I don’t remember what we did as helping my speech at all.

      When I got fired from a long term job because of stuttering in 2006, I was devastated and decided to reach out and get help for the first time as an adult. I found a local college program that offered therapy delivered by grad students (similar to you, I am sure.) I attended that type of therapy for two years and then stopped, rather abruptly. That’s a long story, for another conversation.

      The program focused on fluency shaping and what I really needed was to work on self esteem and acceptance, as I had been covert for most of my adult life. The student clinicians always seemed to “have” to teach me techniques and collect data and I had a hard time with that. I was looking to explore who I was as a woman who stutters and come to terms with myself, like myself and embrace all of me. I wasn’t finding that in what was offered in the program close to me. Private therapy was out of reach for me financially. I did see a psychotherapist for several years to work on other things and stuttering naturally came up, and the therapeutic relationship formed there – that was really positive and supportive – was very helpful.

      I would suggest that therapists employ BOTH counseling techniques and fluency techniques combined, IF that is what the client wants. I would also suggest activities such as talking whenever possible, working on avoidance, and perhaps Toastmasters for public speaking, which I did for 8 years.

      Hope this is helpful.

      Pam

  15. Hi Pam,
    You have great story to tell. I appreciate your openness and how you have embraced everything about yourself. Your video is inspiring to everyone because everyone can relate to having insecurities and imperfections. Being vulnerable is scary, so many people find it easier to guard themselves or hide. Your story is beautiful, and it an invitation for others to share their story. As a graduate student in speech-language pathology, I hope that I will remember to share this message with future clients.
    I have a couple of questions regarding your video and past experiences. How will you continue to take your new insight and view on stuttering and use it to help others? In your video, you seem to remain very calm, comfortable, and gentle in speech. How did you become such a great speaker in front of audiences? Also, what did you enjoy the most about your speech therapy services?
    Erin

    • Hi Erin – thanks for the great comments and for watching the video. I felt I was taking a risk, because it would have been easier to just write a paper with my message but speaking seemed more powerful.
      I think I already use my insights and views on stuttering to help others who stutter through my blog and podcast, which you can check out on http://www.stutterrockstar.com

      I have hosted a podcast for women who stutter to share their stories since 2010. Offering a space for women to talk has been very helpful for my own continued growth and acceptance and in turn helps others to embrace their own uniqueness and realize they have a great story to share.
      You asked how did I become such a great speaker in front of audiences. I have been a member of Toastmasters for 8 and 1/2 years and seized every speaking opportunity I could. I also talk to people regularly through my podcast and being a Stutter Social host (www.stuttersocial.com )

      My job is also communication heavy. I am a high school recruiter and outreach specialist, so I make presentations all of the time. I talk all of the time and take opportunities as they arise to educate about stuttering, because it does come up when I am talking to 10 graders all of the time about our 2 year career technical programs.

      I think that’s the key – encouraging people who stutter to talk to people. Avoiding avoidance is a good strategy for SLPs to take with pws. Very often, it’s not the stuttering that holds us back, but rather, the fear of stuttering is what becomes limiting.

      Hope this was helpful. Good luck on your journey towards becoming a SLP.

      Pam

      • Hi Pam-Your information was very helpful. Thank you so much for the resources. I look forward to reading your blog and checking out the podcast. 🙂

        Erin

  16. Hi Pam!
    I can’t express how much I enjoyed your story. I am a graduate student in the field of speech-language pathology, and I came across your video. I appreciate your posting of a video rather than a paper, it certainly did make you more memorable! I hope you will post this video to youtube or someplace people can always access it, because I think you can inspire and help so many people. I recently watched a TedTalk on Vulnerability, by Brene Brwon. She talks a lot about vulnerability and connections like you did and if you have not seen it, I think you would enjoy it! Your message is important for everyone, we all need to be grateful to be ourselves. Thank you for sharing your story, I look forward to hearing more great things from you!
    -Amanda

    • Hi Amanda – thanks for watching and commenting. I am a big fan of Brene Brown, and I have seen her TED Talk on vulnerability. I have also read her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” and starting reading her newer one, “Daring Greatly.” I think the work she has done on vulnerability and shame is ground breaking and critical to keep in mind with people who stutter.
      For me, being vulnerable is not something I have always been comfortable with – it has taken me years to get to this point and to trust myself that showing my authentic self is OK.
      Good luck on you journey towards becoming a SLP.
      -Pam

  17. Hi Pam,

    Thank you so much for that honest, inspiring and extremely memorable video. I think your statement to embrace our individual “uniqueness” instead of our “differences” is a profound and important perspective, and one that I will take with me. Your courage and wisdom about the benefits of leaving your comfort zone and being vulnerable is a message everyone, even those with “uniqueness” outside of the stuttering world, can learn from.

    You mentioned in the video that it was about 5 or 6 years ago when you “came out of the covert closet”. I was just wondering how you were able to finally embrace your stuttering, and if anything in particular helped you finally have this shift in perspective? Also, as a speech-language pathology graduate student, I am curious to know if speech therapy played a role in helping you gain such a positive perspective on your stuttering, and if so, how? If not, did speech therapy help you in any other aspects of your life?

    Thank you again for sharing your story 🙂
    Laura

    • Hi Laura,
      I was fired from a job I held for over 20 years due to stuttering in 2006. That rocked my world. I had been covert for years but as I got older, my avoidance tricks and word substitutions didn’t work as well anymore and I started stuttering more. Being fired forced me to reach out and find support for the first time in my life, in my 40s. I had only had speech therapy as a kid for 6 months in 3rd grade, and that had no impact on my speech.

      After getting fired, I did several things. I researched on the internet about stuttering and learned that there was a local college program that specialized in stuttering therapy. I did that from 2007-2009, not finding it particularly helpful, truth be told. The therapy focused almost exclusively on fluency shaping and what I needed was to work on acceptance.

      I had one student SLP who worked with me and allowed me to explore myself, my feelings and needs for a semester, which was incredibly affirming and helped me appreciate stuttering as a part of me that didn’t need to be hidden. All of the other student therapists I worked with were locked into to trying to teach me fluency targets, which I eventually learned I didn’t need nor want. I felt learning to speak in a different way was just another way for me to be covert again.

      Two other things that really helped me with acceptance and my speech overall was joining Toastmasters and seeing a psychotherapist who had some experience working with people who stutter. Toastmasters helped me find my public speaking voice, and courage and confidence to speak in just about speaking situation, both large and small.

      Psychotherapy helped me recover from the emotional shock of being fired, and helped me to reinvent myself. I explored other facets of my life that had been affected by my stuttering as well, as I had become a master at avoidance.

      Today, I see myself as a work in progress, but willing to talk without fear and be open to the world around me.

      -Pam

  18. “You have something that makes you stand out momentarily … it’s the words that you sandwich around the stuttering that people remember. You make room for the stuttering when you talk. You make every word count!” I love it!! Here’s hoping more people are able to have a mind shift and turn their differences into assets. Thank you for your video.

    • Thanks Melissa. My good friend told me that, and his words have stayed with me for years. In fact, I named my blog “Make Room For The Stuttering” based on that conversation we had almost 6 years ago.
      I too hope that more people will have a mind shift and be able to accept their uniqueness and prosper with it.
      -Pam

  19. Hi, Pam! I am a graduate student at Western Carolina University in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program. I am currently a student of Dr. David Shapiro, who is a person who has a stuttered. The positivity and light that you bring to this world is so similar to his when talking about life. We recently took an exam focusing on fluency shaping versus stuttering modification. I don’t know how familiar you are with stuttering modification, but Dr. Shapiro is a HUGE promoter of this therapy because it incorporates the client as a key contributor to treatment. The client takes a much more active role and his/her feelings and affect are taken into consideration and are addressed specifically in addition to fluent speech. Do you feel like your experience in therapy could have been more beneficial had you experienced a different type of therapy like stuttering modification? Also, what could the clinicians have done differently, in your eyes, to provide more efficient treatment (unless you felt it was most efficient)? Thank you for any response you feel like providing!!
    Chandler Barnes

    • Hi Chandler – thanks for the good questions. Yes, I think I would have benefitted much more from therapy had it been a balance of fluency shaping, stuttering modification and counseling. Although the program said it was a combination of all three, it really focused almost exclusively on teaching fluency targets, which was not what I needed after being extremely covert for years and years. I needed to work through poor self esteem and towards acceptance.

      I had one (out of about 8 I worked with over 2 years) student clinician who took a risk and worked with me on feelings, fear and shame. Those three months were the most powerful to me of all the therapy I had. I spent time exploring the huge denial I had been in for a long time and let myself talk out loud about being worthy. I began the long process with her (that I continue today) of loving myself and talking to people.

      I think clinicians need to be comfortable with counseling and really look past the stuttering to see how best to work with the individual holistically. It sounds like you are getting that from working with Dr. Shapiro. As we know, stuttering is so complex and includes so much more than stuttered speech. It includes all of those feelings, which left unattended to, leaves the person who stutters to feel overwhelmed, isolated, in doubt and shameful.

      I also think educating and raising awareness is key. Speech therapists are in a prime position to educate the general public about stuttering – what it is and isn’t. I hope today’s generation of therapists and stuttering specialists take this opportunity to educate seriously.

      -Pam

  20. Hi Pamela,
    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. You are, indeed, memorable! I am a graduate student in Speech-Language Pathology at Appalachian State University. Earlier, I noticed that you replied on “Why we should all use people-first language” mentioning that you sometimes refer to yourself as a “stutterer” to avoid the hard /p/ sound in “person who stutters.” What is your belief on using people-first language in regards to stuttering? Do you refer to yourself as a “stutterer” to avoid stuttering on a hard /p/ or do you believe that using the label “stutterer” is acceptable? Does this apply when only referring to yourself or do you think clinicians/friends/family should also use one or the other? I know that this topic depends on the individual, but I would love to hear your opinion!

    Thank you,
    Kayla Wooten

    • Hi Kayla – I understand the importance of person centered language. I think it’s important to recognize the person first and not just their difference. I am a person who happens to stutter. I think that’s the best way to let people know I stutter. Usually, when I talk to people and tell them I stutter, that’s how I say it: “I stutter.” Then I usually go on to say I’m OK with stuttering and hope they will be too.

      In my reply on the other article, I meant that I am not hung up on the label having to be person first language. I am not offended if someone refers to me as a stutterer, just as I am not offended if someone refers to me as overweight. I do stutter and I am overweight, but neither of those define me as the person I am. So I’m fine with whatever label, language people use.

      I do sometimes refer to myself as a stutterer when talking to people about stuttering – it might be because its easier to say that day than “person who stutters” or it might just come out like that without me even thinking about it. I think the value attached to a label has a lot to do with how a person feels about themselves. I am OK with who I am as someone who stutters – so the label isn’t really all that important to me. If clinicians, friends or family want to say something about my stuttering, I think the best way is to use my name, something like “Pam stutters and . . . ” or “Pam’s stuttering . . . . “

      • Thank you for your reply. I loved reading your post and watching your video. Your information is very helpful to me as a future therapist!

  21. Hello Pamela,
    I really enjoyed watching your video and listening to what you had to say. I feel like this video resonates well with everyone who watches it, whether they stutter or not. We all have challenges and insecurities and I love that you’ve embraced yours and are encouraging others to embrace their own. The Dr. Seuss quote, “Today you are you, that is truer than true, there is no one alive that is youer than you” really fit in to your speech perfectly. I think it’s easier to accept your own personal challenges once you realize that they are what make you special and unique.

    I do have a couple questions for you. I was curious how long you attended speech therapy services and what you liked or did not like about how your clinician provided treatment? I’m currently a graduate student studying Speech-Language Pathology and would love to know of anything that helped or hurt that experience for you. In addition, do you believe that your new positive attitude towards your stuttering has effected your speech?
    You are very inspirational and definitely memorable!

    Melanie

    • Hi Melanie – thanks for the comments and questions. I love Dr. Seuss and find so much of his work can be applied to our every day lives. I use his quotes a lot in my work with high school students.

      As for your questions on therapy, see my reply to Chandler Barnes above for some insight. I had therapy as an adult for about 2 years, with graduate student clinicians. It was primarily a fluency shaping approach and I didn’t really care for it. It wasn’t what I needed after being extremely covert for 30+ years. I needed help in seeing that I was a worthy person who has a voice that needed and deserved to be heard. I needed to explore the deep feelings of shame I had and understand where they came from and work on letting them go.

      What also didn’t work for me was feeling like I was a piece of data that the student was required to collect. I had to summon the courage to speak up about that and let the student clinician that counting my disfluent speech made me feel really uncomfortable. We devised a different way to do it. I wrote a paper for ISAD 2009 where I talked about the things I learned in therapy – maybe you’d find this helpful.

      http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/isad12/papers/mertz122.html

      -Pam

  22. Hi Pam,
    Thanks so much for posting your video. You really get the message across that you have to embrace yourself and your vulnerabilities if you truly wish to be happy with the person you are.
    I am also very interested by your comments above about you experience with speech therapy. I am also a Speech-Language Pathology graduate student and I think it’s really important for students to hear insight from people who stutter who haven’t had great therapy experiences. For me, this goes to show that even if the clinician is educated on all of the newest therapy techniques, one of the most important aspects of therapy is to understand the wants and needs of the person who stutters and really connect with him/her as an individual.
    Thank you so much for sharing “Things I Learned in Therapy.” You have so much insight for future clinicians. I especially appreciate your comments about your clinicians participating in voluntary stuttering with you. Both the client and the clinician need to face their vulnerabilities in order to have a meaningful therapy experience. You talk about working with graduate clinicians, many of whom probably have very little experience with stuttering. Do you have any more advice for a new clinician working with a person who stutters for the first time?
    Thank you so much, your video is truly inspiring and memorable!
    Kimzey

    • Hi Kimzey,
      What a cool name! Love it!
      I’m glad you read my previous comment and looked at the paper “Things I Learned In Therapy.” I think someone who has not had a lot of experience working with people who stutter should try to get as much of that experience as possible. Especially if stuttering intrigues you and you think you might want to eventually specialize in it.
      I think it would be helpful for you to Skype with people who stutter, attend a Stutter Social hangout (http://www.stuttersocial.com) and listen to podcasts to hear people who stutter. My podcast happens to be great.

      I think also it will be help for new clinicians to have the mindset that speech therapy has to have a holistic approach – that you should be prepared to do some counseling if need be, to help the individual manage fear and shame while working on improving fluency or stuttering.

      That is also important to note: a person who stutters may not be looking for fluency. They may be looking for ways to stutter more comfortably or reduce shame or fear, and may be more interested in insights that will lead to acceptance. That’s where I was when I tried therapy a few years ago – I wasn’t sure what I wanted and had no clear goals. But it became clear soon in that I wasn’t looking to be fixed – I was trying to figure out how to accept myself, warts and all.

      I think having an open mind and the knowledge that therapy goads have to be mutually defined is the best thing a new clinician can bring to the table. Stuttering is variable and complex – it’s far more than what does or doesn’t come out of our mouths.

      Hope this helps.

      -Pam

  23. Pamela,

    Thank you so much for sharing about your positive viewpoint on stuttering! Your presentation has truly inspired me to be exactly who I am, no apologies needed! I am currently taking my first fluency course as a SLP graduate student. As a future SLP, I will remember your inspiring words about being unique and memorable while working with clients that stutter. I will be able to remind them that the “courage to be vulnerable” will allow for closer relationships with friends and family. I believe this belief is extremely important towards continuing on the path to acceptance for people who stutter. Thank you again for sharing!

    Sara

    • Sara – thanks for the kind words and for watching my video message. The courage to be vulnerable can serve us well in all aspects of our lives.

      If your looking for some good work on vulnerability, check out Brene Brown. Her books, “The Gifts of Imperfection” and “Daring Greatly” are great resources on vulnerability and shame, as is her excellent TED Talk.

      -Pam

  24. Dear Pamela,

    First off, toe socks are great! when i was younger i had a pair of rainbow knee high ones that i didn’t take off till they had the most ridiculous holes you ever seen. Second, My name is Sabrina and I am a graduate student studying to be a speech language pathologist and wanted to ask what really helped you own your stutter? You are so confident and speak such powerful words like “Don’t apologize!” and “Be Yourself!” that it really inspired me.I do not have a stutter but I hope to one day provide my clients half the confidence you have in your video. Any advice?

    Sabrina

    • Hi Sabrina – yes, aren’t toe socks grand? They’re so funky!!

      You ask for advice on how to provide your clients confidence. Only they can do that by taking risks and pushing out of their comfort zones. I think what you can do as a SLP is gently push individuals who stutter to try speaking in feared situations, to volunteer for a speaking role at work, or to consider joining a public speaking organization such as Toastmasters.

      Little things helped me – I recorded myself while making phone calls or speaking at functions at work. Then my student clinician and me would look at the videos and I’d identify what I was doing that I didn’t want to do. I’d look for when I tensed up, mouth movements when I was blocking etc. Just the simple act of recording something and watching it back can be so powerful and confidence boosting. I used to hate to hear myself on voice mail and would never dream of video recording myself.

      Now I do that all the time with my podcast where I interview people from all over the world and record the conversations.

      I think nudging your client out of the box he or she may be in might be the best way to help them improve their confidence and courage.

      -Pam

  25. Hello, Pam,
    I can not help but believe that your video (and written introduction to it) will intrigue and, ultimately, help people — PWS’s, SLP’S, students learning to become SLP’s, and anyone else — realize the importance of being exactly who we are, as we are each moment. No sham. No pretense. No discomfort. Just sheer self-appreciation and self-acceptance. Yes. It can take some time and work to live in this manner, but the payoff for us all is phenomenal.

    We do not have to be “perfect” to be or to be liked by ourselves or anyone else. Who and how we are is always exactly right for us and, believe-it-or-not, for everyone and anyone else. If we don’t see that now, hopefully we will in time.

    And remember: What is perfect for one may not be perfect for another. And what is perfect today may not be perfect tomorrow as a study of history and of cultures and societies teaches us. What we need to be is exactly who and what we are! We are the only one who can be and do what we do in this world!

    Great message. Can’t be heard or seen enough!

    Thanks, Pam, for taking the time to present it here.

    Ellen-Marie

    • Hi Ellen-Marie,
      Thanks for watching, and the great, affirming comments. I always appreciate your honest feedback. I’m glad I stuck to my original desire to contribute a video this year. Although it is daunting to do so. I re-recorded several times before I was decided enough was enough, and it wasn’t going to be perfect. Just like none of us are, in anything, try as we might though.

      For years, I tried to be perfect at everything I could, no doubt in an effort to compensate for my speech. It was exhausting to try so hard. But I was also in desperate need of control in my world and I thought being perfect in those things I could, would give me that control. I never really found control, just frustration.

      These days, I’m letting go and learning to be satisfied with what I have and what I am. I don’t have to be perfect and I don’t have to beat myself up over my perceived imperfections. It’s those very imperfections that makes us unique and special. I think I conveyed that in my video message, and honestly hope that people will see that they too can embrace their stuttering and make it the unique, special part of self that it can be.

      -Pam

  26. Hello Pamela,

    Thank you for making such a wonderful video. I believe you made the right choice to post a video instead of an article! Your friend Jay is absolutely right, this video captured my attention. I expect that you are an amazing speaker and hope to see your name in the ASHA bulletin someday. My question for you is other than your friends comments what made you have such a positive view on your stuttering? I am a speech-language pathology graduate student and your answer would help me greatly with my clients who stutter.

    • Hi Rebekah,
      I think what has helped me most to have a positive attitude about my stuttering is simply talking. For years, I didn’t. I was the queen of avoidance. Now, talking to people – and stuttering openly – and seeing that I won’t get struck by lightening has made all the difference.

      I interview people from all over the world for my podcast (check it out at http://www.stutterrockstar.com) and I am a host for Stutter Social, which is a virtual support group for people who stutter from all around the world. (http://www.stuttersocial.com)

      I also go into schools regularly and talk to middle school kids and teachers about stuttering, differences, bullying and respect. Talking to people builds my confidence and helps my listeners to know how to respond when I stutter.

      I have also been involved with Toastmasters for 8+ years and in 2012 achieved the highest designation one can in Toastmasters, the DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster.) I gave over 60 speeches to small and large audiences and worked on being the best communicator I can be. Effective communication has nothing to do with fluency, but rather how we connect with our audience and convey our message.

      My friend Jay helped me understand myself so much better as a person who stutters, and actually helped me decide to blog. I named my blog after something he said, thus the creation of “Make Room For The Stuttering.”

      -Pam

  27. Pam,

    Your story is incredibly moving and inspirational. Your idea about being unique and memorable rather than allowing oneself to just blend in is excellent. I truly think that others remember people who stutter in a positive way, and although strangers may initially notice the stutter during conversation, they most likely will not remember it afterwards. Rather, they will remember the message you put forth because of your uniqueness, like you had indicated in your video. As a graduate student in speech-language pathology, I have been curious about what the most valuable part of speech therapy is for individuals who happen to be disfluent and you said it perfectly. Rather than focusing on becoming fluent, people should focus on accepting themselves and embracing their personal uniqueness-that is essential in all aspects of life! Individuals like you make the journey of becoming a SLP worthwhile and intriguing-I will remember your message for the many years to come as I begin my career.

    Thank you for sharing,

    Allie

    • Thanks for watching and for the great comments. For me, it was never about becoming fluent – it was about coming to terms with the me that I am, and embracing acceptance and my uniqueness. Hopefully, you’ll help someone who stutters to do just that – maybe by showing them this video! 🙂
      -Pam

  28. Pam,

    I really enjoyed your story and positive attitude. I am a graduate student at Kean University studying SLP and my professor suggested we go on this website…. I am so happy I did. It has been suggested during my schooling that we should begin to build a “library” of resources for our future clients, especially younger children who feel “alone” because of their stutter. I think it is important that young children see that not only are they not alone with their stutter, they can and should embrace it! I will save your video with the hope that my future clients will find you as inspiring and insightful as I have!

    Thank you for your story,

    Kate

    • Hi Kate – thanks for watching my video and leaving the very nice comments. I do hope you build a good library of resources for use with future clients. It will be important for you to have things other than text book case studies! Good luck on your journey to becoming a SLP.
      -Pam

  29. Hi Pam,
    I am a currently a second-year graduate student studying speech-language pathology at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Your story is so inspiring, not only to those who stutter, but anyone who is struggling with a difference. I would love to use this video with my future client, especially the younger ones, to show them what they can become and that stuttering is not all bad. You are such a great role model for these children who feel so alone and different. I was wondering if you have every received services from an SLP and if so, what was your experience like? I would love any recommendations you have for me and my future fluency clients. Thank you so very much for your inspiring post.

    Blayke

    • Hi Blayke,
      Thanks for watching and for the nice comments. I do hope you use this video with future clients, especially young people who find their stutter to be anything but positive and memorable. I’m a believer in hearing and watching other people who stutter actually talk about their stuttering.

      I did receive speech therapy for several years as an adult in 2007-2009. It was a mixed experience. I wrote about it for an ISAD paper I wrote in 2009. Perhaps my insights will be useful to you.

      http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/isad12/papers/mertz122.html

      All the best to you,

      -Pam

  30. Hey Pam! I don’t know if you remember me, but I am a student in Dr. Klein’s (Joe Klein) class at ASU! I met you actually at the Appalachian Mountain Brewery! You mentioned you felt it was a risk to post a video instead of a written text, but let me tell you I loved your video! Sometimes you don’t get to know the true author through their written text and this video allowed me and everyone else to really get to know you personally!
    As soon as I saw the title of your post I just immediately wanted to read and watch your video. The title of being memorable is first, catchy and second, you really made excellent points about being memorable for people who stutter and even for those who don’t stutter! I feel like I just was so uplifted and inspired by your video!
    I was wondering where the inspiration for this video/the original talk at the conference earlier this year came from? I know you mentioned your sister and Jay saying to you that they wish they were you, but of all topics how was it this one that you chose for this years ISAD conference?

    Julia Horton

    • Hi Julia – I remember the night at the brewery. Were you the student who came a little later and joined us? 🙂

      Thanks for saying you loved the video! From the positive feedback I’ve got, I am really glad I decided to do this and put myself out there. You get to see and hear me, and as you said, get to know me much better than what the written word could convey. I am glad it resonated for you even as a person who doesn’t stutter.

      So, where did I come up with this idea for this year’s ISAD contribution? Well, I had written a blog post about how stuttering can make us memorable if we allow ourselves to be in that mind shift. That was several years ago I wrote that. As I was thinking about what I could do for ISAD this year, I thought about all of the stuttering groups I am part of, on Facebook and through email. People who stutter frequently talk about how tough it is, write asking for advice about techniques, or disclosure, or how rude people can be, etc. Often, I see “victim mentality” among the posts. And I see people wishing stuttering would go away or looking for that magic pill.

      So, I got to thinking, why can’t stuttering be positive? We can switch the mind frame and think of it as an asset, if we are willing to think like this, which is the key. And it’s true. Stuttering does make you memorable. I am sure people know who Dr. Klein is at ASU – the fact that he stutters probably adds to how well people remember him. The same with me at work and outside networking events. When I introduce myself and stutter, people tend to remember that and my name. In my business, as a recruiter, I want people to remember me.

      So, when I was asked to do a TED Talk at the recent NSA conference in DC in July, I thought about this and decided to craft a talk on being memorable and how important that is in today’s world. Everybody seemed to like it a lot, so I decided to do it again for ISAD. As I was preparing for it, and recording myself (several times!) it just felt right to do a really positive message, one that can resonate with anyone who has a difference.

      We live in an information saturated society and meet tons of people in our work lives and virtually. Being memorable, in my opinion, helps us stand out and have a better chance of people remembering our name.

      Thanks for asking – hope all is well with you.

      -Pam

  31. Pam,
    I am a graduate student at Illinois State University. I want to first comment on your view of stuttering as being memorable. That statement speaks volumes and the positivity behind it is enlightening. It is not often that stuttering is looked at in such a positive way.
    I have to agree with Jay. People remember when you speak because “You make every word count.” I love that. I agree that today, it is important to vulnerable and memorable in today’s society. I am glad that Jay’s comment was one thing that opened your eyes to your uniqueness and true self. People WILL remember you for that uniqueness and for what makes you different, apart from other people.
    I also have to agree that memorable people are real and authentic. I just recently found a quote “Be fearlessly authentic.” It so simple, yet so powerful. Do not fear your stutter because it sets you apart from being just like other people, but rather EMBRACE your stutter because it is one unique trait that sets you apart because you are different than other people.
    A good friend of mine always said that it is important to be different than others and if you were the same, you would be boring. I have carried that along with me throughout my whole life. He also told me: “Not cocky, just confident.” It is such a true statement. Confidence is one thing that WILL stand out.
    I believe that no matter what you wear, how you speak, what you look like, etc. does not show to others, but how you carry those differences and how you carry yourself. Pam, it is so good to see how you have accepted your stutter enough to let it almost shine through you and make you who you are. You accepted it to the point where you presented it and even made this video for other people to watch and listen to.
    You said you wanted comments on your stutter, but I cannot really give you a comment on it because I was listening to WHAT you were saying not HOW you were saying it. I am currently taking a stuttering class in graduate school at Illinois State and I have become aware of the difficulties that one may face because of it.
    I will take your advice to be real and authentic and to be different. I want to accept my uniqueness and consider myself lucky to be who I am. We are all here to be no one else but us to contribute something that is different to the world and to others. Thank you for such a powerful message. I know it was not easy and I appreciate it greatly.

    -GypsyLee

    • GypsyLee,
      Thanks so much for the great feedback. If more of us embraced our uniqueness, I think we’d see far less insecurities and more confidence, with all people, not just those who stutter.

      Stuttering has always had an impact on me – for a long time, I was shackled by it, and chose silence and avoidance. To have reached the point where I am confident enough about it to talk openly about it, and stutter unapologetically, is so liberating.

      I indeed hope you can take some of my message into your work with your future clients. I think the mind shift from problem to asset can help a lot of people.

      -Pam

  32. Hi Pam-
    I have to say that you really lived up to the title of your article by ‘being memorable’ with a video. You are such a powerful speaker, and through your vulnerability I know that I will remember the words that you have spoken! I am a second-year graduate student currently working towards my masters in speech pathology and I found many of the words you spoke to be things to apply to my own practice when working with a PWS. Something that I found interesting was something that you said in a comment to another individual in this thread, speaking of your experience with student clinicians when you decided to return to speech therapy. I found your words to be incredibly accurate on how when we are in school we are taught to focus 95% of our sessions on the data collection and applying a specific technique with our client, and little emphasize is placed on the counseling aspect when we first start out. I am wondering what fluency techniques they worked on with you in therapy, and if the limited therapy that you did receive from a speech therapist was helpful at all. You have very little tension in your disfluencies, and I am curious if that is the way it has always been for you, or if it is a result of what little therapy you did receive.
    Thank you again for your honesty and openness of your experiences, and I know that I will remember your story when I am providing therapy to my clients in the future.
    -Sarah

    • Hi Sarah – when I was in therapy, the clinicians worked with me on full breath and gentle onset. To be honest, I never quite “got” full breath, and did not like the sound of other people who used it to control their stuttering. To me, it sounded robotic and I knew I didn’t want to sound like that. At the clinic I attended, there were people who had been coming to therapy for many years and mostly used the very slow, full breath technique for control. So maybe because I internally didn’t like how it sounded is the reason why I didn’t catch on to it.

      To me, sounding animated, having inflection in my voice and tone and using vocal variety is more important than controlling stuttering. I can live with the stuttering moments, because as you noticed, I don’t have a lot of tension when I stutter. That’s pretty much been the case for me, except when I have a really hard block, which I do from time to time, and then you’ll see tension in my jaw and shoulders. But most of the time, I have an easy stutter. 🙂

      So I’d have to say that the fluency shaping therapy I had really didn’t have much of an impact on my stuttering.

      Thanks for watching and asking such a good question.

      -Pam

  33. Pam,

    I really loved your video! I really liked that you decided to post your video instead of a paper 🙂 What inspired you to come out of the “covert closet” in relation to stuttering? I’m studying to be a speech-language pathologist. I love that you’ve accepted your stuttering as such a positive part of who you are! Do you have any advice on how therapists can encourage clients to accept their stuttering as something that makes them unique and memorable?

    Thank you so much for sharing!
    Ashley Griffith

    • Hi Ashley – I guess my advice for therapists would be to explore with the client why they may want to change their stuttering. Are they in therapy because they hate how they sound, and want to stutter more easily? Or are they dealing with shame and fear?

      Dealing with those deep, complex feelings – which I dealt with after being so covert for so long – may benefit from looking at stuttering as an asset rather than a deficit. I think if people can see that stuttering makes us stand out, helps people remember us, and that we do not need to apologize for it, then your client may have an easier time dealing with the feelings that brought them to therapy in the first place.

      Adults who stutter are always going to stutter. Why not encourage a mind shift that fosters acceptance, which many people are looking for anyway.

      -Pam

  34. Hey Pam,

    Thank-you so much for sharing your story with us in such a unique way. Hearing you talk about the importance of being yourself and being vulnerable and memorable is a great message for everyone, not only other individuals who stutter. I was wondering how long you were covert about your stuttering? Also, did you ever receive speech therapy as a child or just as an adult? Thanks again for sharing!

    -Rachel

    • Hi Rachel – I was covert for all of my teen and adult life, until I was in my early 40’s. So for over 30 years. It was like a prison, living like that, hiding who I really was, always in fear of negative social consequences.

      I had speech therapy for about six months when I was in 3rd grade. It had no impact. When I changed schools, speech therapy was no longer available for free, and my dad refused to pay for me to attend.

      So, I didn’t have therapy until I was an adult.

      -Pam

  35. Hello Pam! It is so great that you decided to post this video! Your facial expression and calmness of your voice are great tools that you are using to make your speech better understood. I loved every instance you had a stuttering moment, because of your confidence and attitude. The idea of being memorable is wonderful… It applies not only to people who stutter, but to every single person, no matter what disability or talent she/he has. Do you think the idea of uniqueness can be taught to children who experience stuttering, or the confidence will come with experience? Thank you!

    • Hi Viktoria – yes, I think children can be taught that there is no shame in their uniqueness and that they shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed of their stutter. I think kids can greatly benefit from meeting teens and adults who stutter, who can model confidence and self acceptance. I know my life as a child who stuttered would have been different had I met someone who stuttered with confidence. It would have gone a long way in helping me deal with feelings of deep shame -which I might not have had to deal with had I known it was ok to flaunt my uniqueness.

  36. Pam,

    Thank you so much for the great message in this video. It is truly inspiring to see the amount of self-confidence you have as a person. Many people who don’t stutter do not have the self-confidence that you show. I think it is great that you never apologize for who you are.
    I had one question on your stuttering. Do you use any techniques to help ease the stutter?
    I am in the master’s program for speech-language pathology and am currently taking a course on fluency. We have been discussing the importance of therapy being based on getting the client to feel comfortable with their stuttering. Since there is no cure for stuttering, this becomes the most important aspect to focus on. I think it is great that you are sharing your story and helping others become confident with their abilities.

    • Hi Brittany – thanks for watching and commenting.

      I don’t use any techniques for my stuttering. I just stutter naturally, with no avoidance or word substitution. I think that by just being open and not fighting my stuttering, I actually stutter easy.

      And that’s the goal, right? When we stutter easy, with no fighting it, we sound confident. When we’re confident, there’s nothing to apologize for.

      Maybe that’s my technique! 🙂

      -Pam

  37. Pam,

    Thank you very much for sharing your story in such a unique way. The risk you took by submitting a video rather than text was well worth it and really makes your post stand out! Your message to “Be Memorable” is such a positive and powerful life motto. The best part about your post is that I feel it can apply to anyone, and we should all learn to embrace our uniqueness in the same way you do. What suggestions would you give to someone who hides his/her uniqueness? In what ways can someone find something that makes him/her different and turn it into an asset?

    • Hi Stephanie – thanks for watching and commenting.

      Suggestions for someone hiding their uniqueness? Encourage them to ask themselves why. Are they ashamed of their uniqueness? Do they feel too much attention is called to them because of their difference?

      I think looking at our fear and facing it head on – in other words feel the fear and do it anyway – helps tremendously in reframing our mindset so that we can think of a perceived flaw or deficit as an asset instead.

      In my world, as a recruiter and outreach specialist, I want people to remember me so they’ll call me with their needs and so they’ll remember the program I represent. People do remember me because I stutter. I stand out from the pack and that makes me special. That’s a good thing.

  38. Pam,
    Wow! There are hardly words to describe the inspiration I felt while watching this video. You have an infectious spirit and unfathomable courage; thank you for sharing! I watched this video with the intention of asking you a question about your experiences, but I found myself compelled to respond to a questions you asked in your video: “Have you ever apologized for something that makes you uniquely you?” Boy, have I?! When I was about 10 years old, I went through a period of intense anxiety and depression. That year in school I struggled with lots of uncertainty and tumultuous personal relationships that deeply affected me. As a result, I learned to be very defensive and constantly on edge, trying to guard myself from doing something someone else might disapprove of. “I’m sorry” became a reflex response for almost every action I took, trying to tiptoe around asking questions or making decisions that in any way affected others. Though, I have come far since then (I am now a graduate student, studying to become and SLP) I still often find myself reflexively apologizing for being me–asking questions, making comments, or interacting with others. My parents have even commented before “Why are you apologizing? Everything is fine.”
    Your courage and your view that stuttering makes you memorable and unique hits home with me. Though I am not a person who stutters, I am challenged to recognize and reflect on those attributes and qualities of myself that make me unique and ultimately memorable. Whether you feel lucky that you stutter or not, I certainly feel lucky that because of your stuttering, I have had the opportunity to hear you speak and be inspired by your story, your courage, and your spirit. I look forward to sharing your story with clients in the future, and I feel that this gives me a platform to connect with future clients. Thank you!
    PS: I LOVE toe socks!
    Claire Richards

    • Hey Claire – thanks for sharing bits of your own story. Too often we get mired down in what makes us different, when it’s just as easy to get lifted up by it. I’m glad you are studying to be a SLP – use your personal story and insights to help lift up a person who stutters who only sees the bad side of stuttering. Help them see the positive side and how our uniqueness really can make us memorable.
      -Pam

      • Thank you so much! I look forward to being able to connect with my clients on a deep, personal level.

  39. Hello,

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring video! You have offered a great perspective not only on accepting yourself as a PWS, but also that everyone should not be afraid to be themselves. Each of us possess something that makes us uniquely us and we should not have to change who we are to please other people. Your Dr. Seuss quote is the perfect way to sum up how we should approach life.
    Your introduction before the video says that you are a recruiter and career development specialist in a high school. Has your experience as a PWS been beneficial for providing insight to the high school students you mentor? Have you ever had the opportunity to work with a high school student that stutters and help them overcome any challenges related to the workforce? You seem as though you are well-suited for this position and have a lot of empowering information to share with others. Even if you haven’t worked with students who stutter you seem to have a contagious attitude about embracing what makes us unique and using that to our advantage. If you have had experiencing working with students who stutter I would be interested in hearing about that.

    Thank you,

    Emily

    • Hi Emily,
      Thanks for the comments and great question. In my current position, I have not had the opportunity to work with a student who stutters. It just hasn’t come up that I’ve met anyone who stutters. I think if there was a student who stutters, a teacher would probably connect me to them, as all the staff here know I stutter.

      I have talked to the students here in general about my stuttering, as it needs to be brought up. When I first start talking to some groups of students, its pretty obvious that they have not had experience with someone who stutters. So I’ve educated about it and let students know what it is and that I’m OK with it and hope they will be too. I let them know that it’s normal as a listener to be a little nervous and uncomfortable and unsure how to react. I encourage them to ask question instead of laugh, which is often the go-to response of young people, when they’re unsure how to react.

      I do feel well suited to my outreach position. I am talking all of the time and giving presentations and am able to use my outgoing personality in a good way.

      Years ago, just starting out in my career, I never would have thought I’d be doing this for a career – talking for a living!! 🙂

      -Pam

  40. Hi Pam!

    “Look at what it is that makes us different, and figure out a way to make it an asset, and feel positive enough about it to want OWN IT, FLAUNT IT, and WORK IT!”

    YES!!! Amazing message!

    • Thanks Laurel. I almost felt like walking around when I said that!! 🙂
      But then I would have screwed up the recording!

      -Pam

  41. Rock on Pam!
    I, like all of the others who watched your video, am very impressed and certainly am happy to have you stand out in my mind! There are so many points from both your video and posts here that resonate with me. Thanks to your willingness to be vulnerable, you have helped us all. I am a true believer that our experiences significantly shape who we are and only with time and slow self acceptance I am finally proud of the person I have become. I also hope that because of my struggles and triumphs I am able to connect personally with those around me. I am not happy to admit that I still lapse into a heavily worn habit of apologizing for being me. Hearing you is a wonderful reminder to let that go.
    I am a SLP student but do not stutter and while I believe I can help (and have an interest in working with) people who stutter, there’s a part of me that worries that because I don’t stutter PWS will not want to work with someone who does not stutter. I say this because when I was beginning to accept myself, I directly sought a therapist who identified as I did. Ends up the therapist who did not fit my search was the best therapist I have ever worked with. It would be great to hear your thoughts about this if you’d care to share, but please know, I have your charismatic smile bouncing in my head! Thank you!
    Bree

    • Hi Bree,
      I think a therapist who does not stutter can be just as effective as one who does. The therapist who does not stutter does not have the same insights as one who does stutter, but there are many successful and effective therapists out there who don’t stutter who “get it.” “Getting it” comes from working with people who stutter, doing pseudo-stuttering, attending stuttering support groups and conferences and not thinking that the therapist knows best and has all the answers.

      Therapeutic alliance can be formed with a clinician who does not stutter and a person who does by setting mutually agreed upon goals and allowing the pws to drive much of the therapy.

      I have seen a therapist for the past 5 years – not a speech therapist – who has helped me tremendously with acceptance, vulnerability, self-care and emotional regulation and we couldn’t be any more different. I think a mutual respect for each other goes a long way towards growth and fulfillment of goals.

      I’m glad you found my smile charismatic! That makes me happy!! 🙂

      -Pam

  42. Hi Pam,

    I think the amount of time alone it took for me to scroll to the bottom of the list of comments to add my own speaks volumes about how memorable your video was!! Your talk was so powerful because it goes beyond stuttering, everyone has differences and learning to embrace these really does give us power in our lives! I loved how your message focused on individuality and I think that as a current graduate student in Speech Language Pathology that when I have clients who stutter in the future I will definitely remember to show them your video to help them find their own way to feeling empowered and confident. I understand how your sister can say that she is jealous of you because through embracing your stutter you have had such amazing opportunities in your personal life as well as the opportunities you have had to reach out and help others.

    Thank you again for your message, I am truly grateful of your vulnerability and courage!
    Morgan

    • Thanks Morgan for the great comments and feedback. I am glad people were able to see my message transcends stuttering and can apply to all aspects of life. We all have that “something” that make us unique.

      Why not use it to our advantage rather than hide it away?

      -Pam

  43. Pam,

    I would like to first thank you for sharing this video. I appreciate that you put yourself out there and did not hide behind text. That is very courageous and inspiring! I absolutely love your motto of “Be Memorable” and I think that more people should live by those words. You prove that you do not let your stuttering stop you and rather embrace it and help others to do the same. I have some questions for you. At about what age did you start to embrace your stuttering and do you think the maturity at that age had anything to do with it? Aside from your sister and friend what else has helped you to accept your stuttering as a unique quality? Also, have you developed any strategies to, as you say, “fight off the jerks”?

    Again, I would just like to thank you for making this video and being so positive!

    -Alyssa

    • Hi Alyssa,

      I’ve had many opportunities to “fight off the jerks.” It took me some time to feel comfortable doing so, but I do have some come backs I use when I want to make a point and educate someone who has made fun of me or disrespected me.

      If someone makes fun of me by mimicking my stutter, I’ve sometimes sad, “is that the best you can do? I stutter way better than you.” That usually gets the person to stop and think.

      When someone has asked me if I forgot my name, over the phone, which happens more times than you’d think, I usually reply with, “No, have you ever forgotten your name? I don’t know of anyone who has forgotten their name.” Usually works.

      A payroll clerk at work once laughed at me for stuttering while I was talking with her about a change I needed to make – the first time, I ignored it. The second time she laughed, I couldn’t let it go. I confidently and loudly said (as she was in a cubicle and other people could hear) “you know, I stutter. Laughing at me offends me, just so you know.” She was mortified and apologized profusely. I didn’t say what I said to embarrass her, I just wanted her to realize what she was doing was hurtful. I am pretty sure I taught her a lesson that day.

      You asked at what age did I embrace my stuttering. Not till in my early 40’s. Before that, I had been extremely covert and hid my stuttering at all costs, due to ear and shame. When I had my big “aha” moment (getting fired due to stuttering) that’s when I began working towards acceptance and actually came to believe that stuttering is pretty cool and sets me apart from most people. Maturity and confidence had a lot to do with that, as well as seeing a really good psychotherapist.

      Thanks again for watching and commenting.

      -Pam

  44. Pam,

    Your post was absolutely inspirational. I love the line “Be Memorable”. I wanted to congratulate you on being able to embrace your uniqueness, I love that you posted a video and your stuttering was absolutely beautiful. I also would have to agree with those envious of you. I just wondered at what age did you shed the fear and shame of your stutter and become able to embrace it? Was it a really long process for you or did something click fairly quickly?

    Thank you for being inspirational!
    Katie

    • Hi Katie – yes, it was a really long process for me. For years, I was covert and did everything I could do hide my stuttering. I reached a point almost 10 years ago where hiding it wasn’t working anymore, and I was beginning to stutter openly at work where I had never before. And hiding a piece of me that has really shaped who I’ve become was causing great inner turmoil for me – I wanted to be an authentic person, but felt hiding my stuttering was jeopardizing that.

      I had an “Aha” moment in 2006 and something indeed clicked. After getting fired from a long-held job because of stuttering, I decided I didn’t want to hide and fool myself anymore, that I wanted to be open and authentic and just stutter openly and naturally.

      Over several years of therapy (both speech therapy and psychotherapy) I really began to embrace me for me – and saw that my stuttering was unique and made me stand out. I was having people tell me how courageous I was being open and talking about my journey and just decided to embrace it once and for all, and try to think of my stuttering as an asset instead of a flaw. Once I did that, there’s been no turning back!! 🙂

      -Pam

  45. Hi Pam-

    Thank you for your wonderful example of communicating and stuttering in such a confident and authentic way.

    I miss seeing you and hope our paths cross again soon.

    Jeff

    • Hi Jeff
      Thanks for watching and leaving a comment. I miss seeing you as well. I hope to be able to make it to Friends in NC next year.

      Pam

  46. Hi Pam,

    I really enjoyed your talk about being memorable! People often hide who they are so that they don’t appear different to others, and yet it is what makes us different that makes us memorable and special.

    I’m currently studying to be a speech language pathologist and must say that your unique view of stuttering would really be helpful to me in any future therapy with a people who stutter. Would it be alright if in the future I showed your video to clients? I think your perspective would be helpful to them, because it would shine a light on stuttering as a positive attribute, instead of the negative view it often holds.

    Also, was there anything in particular that you did with your speech therapist that helped you with opening yourself up to your stuttering? Especially since you said that you hid it for so long, were there any specific exercises or approaches that helped you overcome hiding it?

    Thank you 🙂

    • It would certainly be ok if you showed my video to future clients of yours. I hope my simple message helps people see that our uniqueness is truly what makes us special.

      I pretty much was compelled to stop hiding my stuttering after getting fired from a long held job due to stuttering. I thought I was doing a good job hiding it, but I really wasn’t. I was more in denial
      than anything else for so many years.

      After being terminated from employment I searched for help and did join a college speech program clinic. I saw student SLPs every semester. Most wanted me to work on fluency techniques- I wanted to work on me and acceptance.

      I spent a lot of time peeling back the layers and dealing with shame. Only one clinician was really ok with working on that with me. That was my most successful therapy. I also chose to see a psychotherapist to help to deal with the deep shame and denial I had. That was very successful as well. In fact I found the psychotherapy to be much more beneficial to me than the speech therapy. I realized I didn’t want fluency or to be fixed – I just wanted to embrace all of me.

      -Pam

  47. Hi Pam,

    I could not agree more with your message and encouragement of being authentically true to ourselves. Too often we try to “fit in” with a group and if we notice something that makes us different, we feel a change in ourselves is needed. I feel that your message not only speaks to people who stutter, but I think we all can relate to this and learn from you. I liked how you shared that every time you speak, it opens up a time of vulnerability and that you appreciate this gift to share personal moments with the listener. My hope is that those who are struggling to accept their speech take this perspective and embrace who they are. I am a graduate student in the SLP program and after hearing your inspirational journey, I hope to encourage my future clients to see that they are memorable, that they are unique, and to use their speech as an asset to themselves. Thank you so much for being you, and sharing your motivating message; I will carry it with me as I plan for treating future clients.

    Thanks,
    Ellyn

    • Thank you Ellyn for the great comments and feedback. Feel free to share this video with future clients you’ll work with.
      I think it’s a message worth spreading.
      Good luck on your journey toward becoming a SLP.
      -Pam

  48. Pamela,

    Your post was truly inspiring. It is great to see you so confident and looking at the larger picture. I can’t imagine what it took to become such a confident person and help others with realizing their potential. I liked your perspective of “being lucky to be a stutterer.” I have not thought about it being a positive way to be a memorable person.

    I hope to bring this positivity to my future practice as an SLP. And encourage my clients to embrace themselves and be unique in their own way.

    • Hi

      Thanks for the great feedback. It definitely takes a mind shift to see stuttering as an asset and to embrace it as such, when so many of us see it as an impediment and therefore a hindrance. I do hope some of your clients will benefit from this perspective.

      It’s so much easier than fighting it.

      Best to you on your journey toward becoming a SLP.

      -Pam

  49. Pam, thank you for your inspirational message. You are indeed memorable, in a very optimistic, positive, and contagious way! Your message encourages me to accept things and embrace things about myself and others that are unique. Like you said, we all have unique things about each of us that makes us special. I loved your phrase about embracing your uniqueness and wanting “to own it, flaunt it, work it”. The world would be a very dull place if everybody was the same. Thank you for your inspiration!

    • Thanks for the comments. Indeed, the world would be a boring place if we were all the same.

      -Pam