Briefly describe your daily job duties.
I am a speech and language pathologist. I evaluate and provide intervention for school age children in a special education environment who display challenges in the areas of speech and language.
As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
My biggest challenges as a PWS are communicating with parents and faculty in more formal contexts such as an IEP (Individualized Education Program) or parent teacher meetings or collaborative group meetings. I also have difficulty communicating with parents who are resistant to their child being seen by a person who stutters. Also, phone calls can often present a challenge because the listener cannot tell what’s going on with me on the other side of the line, and those silent moments can be all the more awkward.
Do you self-disclose your stuttering to unsuspecting co-workers and clients?
I often self-disclose that I stutter. I usually wait until a stuttering moment occurs and then say, “… by the way, I have a mild stutter, just letting you know, and actually it’s one of the big factors that got me into this field to begin with.” I then leave an open space for questions and try to convey that I’m comfortable talking about it.
Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
My stutter is part of what makes me a unique, brave, strong individual. In my more confident moments it serves as a strength and part of my “story.” Others around me also know that I am somewhat of an expert on the topic and they will come and ask me questions pertaining to a relative or friend of theirs who stutters.
What is your proudest moment at your current company?
I was extremely proud of myself when I overcame my fear of tackling parent teacher meetings over the course of my first few months at this school. It was one meeting after the next and quite daunting to keep facing parents and disclosing my stutter over and over in a short period of time.
What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
Own who you are and go for what you want. Do not let society’s expectations and “norms” dictate what you can and cannot do. Go for it. Fail. Fail dozens of times and go for it again. Don’t stop pushing until you can say that you are doing what you want in life. It’s okay to not feel okay all the time. We are all human and stuttering can be a crazy uphill climb and struggle. But remember that your dreams and goals are important, and you have the gift of YOU to share with the world.