National Stuttering Association

Carolina AyalaDevelopmental Services Worker

    Carolina Ayala

    Toronto, Canada
    Developmental Services Worker
    Community Living Toronto

    Briefly describe your daily job duties.
    As a Developmental Services Worker, I support adults with intellectual disabilities. These adults come to our day program and do a variety of activities that promote independence and enjoyment such as arts and crafts, cooking, music, reading, writing, yoga, jigsaw puzzles, and more.

    We also go into the community with these adults and assist them in a variety of ways including: shopping, swimming, visiting attractions, going to the library, taking different modes of transportation and visiting zoo and farms.

    As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
    The most challenging part is when there is an emergency and I need to call 911. I feel immense pressure to be quick and precise because someone’s life is on the line and I want to do my best for the person I am supporting. This is when I use positive self-talk and keep calm. Getting anxious will only make things worse.

    Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process? If so, how did you do it and how do you currently disclose your stuttering to unsuspecting co-workers, clients and or customers?
    I always disclose because I stutter often and I am an overt person who stutters. I do this because it helps put me at ease. Some people may be taken aback but that is their issue, not mine.

    I like to disclose when I am first meeting a new staff member or a family member. I think it puts both of us at ease. For the most part, people appreciate me disclosing and may ask a question or two about stuttering. Regardless of how someone reacts, I know that I am more than my stutter and I try to relay that in my interactions with others.

    Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
    Some of the adults with disabilities I support, cannot speak. As a person stutters, I understand that communication is so much more than verbal communication. In that way, I am able to better connect with people I help at work.

    What is your proudest moment at your current company?
    Going through this coronavirus pandemic has made me realize how important and valuable a Developmental Services Worker is — we are essential workers. I am proud that I have been able to support our clients through these very challenging times where they cannot visit with their family or friends and have to stay home. They miss their routines. As staff, we are there to comfort them and provide constant stability in a time that has lots of changes. People with disabilities are often forgotten in such times because there are so may needs. I am happy I can do my part to fill this void.

    What are your long-term career aspirations?
    First and foremost, I want to be happy. Doing things that improve the lives of others gives me great joy. I would love to continue to try more positions within my organization that push me outside of my comfort zone with the focus of bettering the lives of those with intellectual disabilities.

    What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
    Sometimes greater success isn’t about more money but about the amount of enjoyment you get out of what you are doing. I love my job and helping others. I love making people happy, making them smile because its literally FREE so why not!

    I always want to strive for more and try new things. Last summer, I tried a position with more responsibility, and it was a great opportunity that taught me that I am capable of so much.

    Sometimes people judge us, based on what they see and hear but we, people who stutter, are so much more than a stutter. We are awesome people with beautiful things to say to people who are willing to listen. Sometimes we have to push ourselves to see all that we can accomplish.