Day 3 of #100daysofwalking and stammer podcasts

A screenshot of Stamily members attending part 1 of Peers Training and a copy of my Stamily Peers certificate

Day 3 of #100daysofwalking and stammer-related podcasts.

I set out in the damp and drizzly haze as last rays of sunlight began drawing to a close for the day. I wear hi-vis gear and really needed it today as it was so dull and cloudy. I walk on country roads in rural Ireland where there is no footpath, no street lighting and often only has space for 1 car. I keep the podcast volume quite low so that I can hear if a car approaches and jump into the verge. I return home wet and muddy but surprisingly refreshed.

I had planned to take part in the #100daysofwalking challenge and then had the idea to listen to a stammering-related podcast while I’m walking. I thought that a Tweet would keep me accountable so I didn’t start skipping days. I then noticed that when I anticipated what to write in my summary Tweet, I was listening more actively. I prefer text over audio. I am a frequent daydreamer and when I read an idea or concept that interests me, my mind wanders off on a tangent. When I am reading, it is much easier to figure out where i ‘dropped off’ because it is somewhere on the page I am looking at. I find podcasts need a lot more focus and concentration on my part because I daydream and miss whole segments of the content. I then have to jump back and forth trying to figure out when my mind wandered off and listen to the segment I missed. This can happen many times during an episode so I usually find them more work than I benefit from. However, I am a firm advocate that we all need to listen to the voices from the stammering community and listen to stammered speech more regularly. Podcasts are a wonderful way to tap into the stammering community by learning about new research as well as hearing lived experiences and perspectives of people who stammer. I am determined not to miss out on this wonderful world of podcasting and I hope that the focus needed to Tweet and write my dary-style blog entries will help me stay tuned in. So far, I have been aware of my daydreaming but I have managed to direct my attention back. I think I will need to listen to many of these episodes twice. I am mooting the idea of listening to 50 podcasts and then listening to them again, with an adendum to each blog entry with new thoughts and perspectives. I might not want to limit myself to 50 podcasts, so I will hold of making a decision on that for now.

On that note, the purpose of this blog is to keep my mind more focused so that I actively listen to the podcast in order to be able to tweet and blog about it. This series is my first foray into blogging. I have not yet found ‘my writing voice’ and it feels informal and conversational so far. If you are reading this, then I appreciate your interest and your time in reading. I hope that i will find my notes useful to look over and in addition, that others might also be drawn to listen to a podcast and hear more regularly from the community of people who stammer.

Today’s episode is not strictly a podcast, but it is stammer-related and I enjoyed a long 90-minute walk while I listened to part 2 of the webinar. I had attended part 1 but had not been able to attend part 2. The videos will be available for Stamily members who are interested in joining their new initiative to make Stamily a “better and safe space”.

Who are Stamily? “Welcome to Stamily – the international community that brings people who stutter together as a family, and raises awareness of stuttering by sharing our experiences and stories. Come and join us at https://stamily.org.”. Stamily run a hybrid of in-person and online activities. There is a friendly WhatsApp group and Discord server. I have joined ‘Meet the Stamily’ online Zoom meetings and have thoroughly enjoyed them. My family and I rang in the new year with a Stamily Zoom call. Most of the members on the call had celebrated the new year an hour ahead of us here in Ireland, so I got to ring it in twice and vice versa!

The Peers training was provided by Michael Sugarman who is a medical social worker and an activist for the stuttering and disability communities. Michael co-founded the National Stuttering Project and was former chair of the International Stuttering Association. He currently co-facilitates a peer support group and is co-writing an article on peer and professional facilitation of support groups, emphasizing mindfulness communication, self-care skills, and resilience. Michael provided two 90-minute sessions for Stamily members so that we could learn how to offer a programme based on self-help structure with specific Peers training.

Michael explained that the self-help movement has seen groups in all sectors of society, including the stammering community. There are benefits to this model and many have gained great support from this type of support. There are some factors to be mindful of, such as implicit bias. This refers to the anecdotal bias that someone who has been through a certain experience may then advise others to complete the same steps to resolution that they did. This may help but it equally may not be the right match for someone else. As Stamily Peers, it is very important that members provide support, encouragement and advice without letting personal experiences and preferences sway the direction of the guidance. This is difficult to do! Michael acknowledged how hard it is to achieve, but being aware of what implicit bias means and how easy it can manifest can help members to maintain impartiality where possible. Reflecting and reviewing our contributions as a Peer is a helpful way to audit and try to achieve that balance.

Here are some links to articles that Michael Sugarman has written. This is by no means exhaustive but these seemed relevent to the topic of Peers, for anyone interested in learning more.

https://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/SupportOrganizations/peercounseling.html

https://isad.isastutter.org/isad-2013/papers-presented-by-2013/peer2peer-evolving-revolution-brief-overview/