About the Author:
Tricia Hedinger, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-F is a clinical associate professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Knoxville, TN. She is Vice Chair of the World Stuttering Network and host of the podcast “Stutter Stories.” Ms. Hedinger is the co-author (with Thad Cox, Sr.) of the novel “Bullyblossom: A Tale of Overcoming Bullies and Embracing Stuttering to Live a Life of Achievement” released in 2019. She has passion for addressing bullying in schools, fostering unique outdoor education programs and developing support group networks around the world.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, podcast explosions occurred all around the world. As of August 2021, adults presented with a substantial increase in podcast listening. If we look at 2021 statistics, we know that 41% of the total US population (116 million Americans) over the age of 12 can be considered at least monthly podcast listeners which is up from 37% in the previous year. At least 28% (80 million) are habitual weekly podcast listeners which is up from 24%. And 78% of Americans (222 million people) are at least familiar with podcasts as a form of media. (The Infinite Dial, 2021)
In a community where many people crave to hear voices of others who stutter, podcasts present us with yet another opportunity to make connections. There are 25 + podcasts about stuttering as of August 2021. Themes cater to various populations and interests. International stutter stories, women who stutter, research, humor, and support are among a few of the topics that can be heard through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google and other channels where podcasts can be heard. Both teens and adults have easy access to information, anecdotes, narratives, hope and inspiration about life with a stutter. The benevolent work of PWS continues to evolve with technology and results in far-reaching impact around the globe.
We have known for many years the benefits of support groups. Research shows that people who attend support groups have increased comfort in their personal lives, increased competence in their work lives, higher psychological well-being and decreased internalized stigma (Boyle, 2013). When PWS gather around a table (or in a Zoom room), they have opportunities to:
- Hear other people stutter
- Learn new information
- Share in the experiences of others
- Listen to the strategies and ideas of others
- Make new connections
- Tell their own story
- Talk openly without fear of criticism
(Ramig, 1993; Yaruss, 2002)
Podcasts enable PWS to connect with others in many ways similar to support groups. While it does not match the full value of a dynamic group that includes back and forth discussion and opportunity to talk freely with others, it does offer an added feature of convenience. Those who feel immediate need for connection with the stuttering community may tune in to a podcast on a topic of their choice at any given time. Podcasts are available 24/7 and listeners may search for an episode that relates to their specific moment. Subscribers receive notifications when new episodes are released and can choose to listen at a time that suits their schedule.
Additionally, PWS may issue themselves a challenge to become a guest on a podcast and share their own story. Hosts search for new guests with different experiences to share. There is often no need to be a researcher, celebrity, author or well-known individual in the stuttering community. Most podcasts were started with the specific intent to connect PWS and provide a platform for sharing voices.
Podcasts turn a drive to work into a moment of connection. They change workouts and long walks into a learning opportunity. And they change tedious housework into an inspirational moment. This simple media tool allows people from all corners of the earth to share their voices with a far reach. Creating, hosting and participating in podcasts is yet another way that PWS have risen together to change the world. Check out Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google or wherever you like to get your podcasts. Type in “stuttering” and see what inspires you!
Boyle, M. (2013) Psychological characteristics and perceptions of stuttering of adults who stutter with and without support group experience. J. of Fluency Disorders, 38(4)
Ramig, P. (1993). The impact of self-help groups on persons who stutter: A call for research. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 18, 351–361.
Yaruss, J.S., Quesal, R., Reeves, L., Molt, L., Kluetz, B., Caruso, A. McClure, J., Lewis, F. (2002) Speech treatment and support group experiences of people who participate in the National Suttering Association. J. of Fluency Disorders, 27, 115-134
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