Nina G

@nina-g | contributor
Nina G is a comedian, author and professional speaker. When she isn’t keynoting at conferences or headlining college shows, she performs her nightclub act at comedy clubs and shows across the country. Her second book Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen will be released on August 6, 2019 and is available now for pre-order. For more on Nina G go to www.NinaGcomedian.com.
Nina G
Nina G @nina-g
contributor

5 Ways Libraries Can Support the Stuttering Community

As a person who stutters, I have heard it all!  Upon introducing myself, I inevitably might hear “did you forget your name?”  or “wh-wh-wh-what?” People who stutter find particular difficulties when interacting with people in a customer service capacity.  Last year there was a news article about a Starbucks customer who found himself mocked by a barista who used the stuttering version of his name to identify his beverage.  This may sound extreme, but so many of the 1 percent of the adult population who stutters has at least one experience where they were being mocked by a person who was in a role to help or serve them. Librarians and library staff are among the most helpful people I have ever encountered!  They are excited to help patrons find the perfect book or resource. In the past few decades there has been a push to make libraries more welcoming places for everyone, including people with disabilities.  This has gone beyond ramps to include trainings on customer service with a focus on serving people with disabilities, displaying visual icons to help people with dyslexia navigate the Dewey Decimal System, and software to make their computers accessible to people with an array of disabilities. In my experience, stuttering is often ignored because the library barriers don’t seem so obvious. Nonetheless, libraries will want to minimize awkward interactions like the one that occurred at Starbucks. The following are a few tips to consider. They include basic etiquette and also ways to reach out to the stuttering community, making libraries a place for resources and support. 1.  Stuttering, like many other speech-based disabilities, is not apparent. You won’t know someone stutters by looking at them, which means anyone approaching you might be a person who stutters. Knowing there is diversity in how people verbally express themselves helps make your interactions more inclusive. Assuming that anyone might stutter or speak in a variety of ways prepares you to address these differences when you encounter them. Some tips for facilitating these interactions include: Not interrupting the person and letting them finish what they are saying. Maintaining eye contact. If the person says something you don’t completely understand, repeat the part you did understand so that they only have to fill in the part you missed instead of saying the whole thing over again. 2.  Don’t try to “fix” them. People who stutter are often approached with cures for how to resolve their speech difficulties. These have included everything from old wives tales to hallucinogenics and miracle cures seen on talk shows. These are rarely helpful. Many people who stutter have likely been doing so for a long time and have tried multiple ways to manage their speech.  There are no known cures for stuttering, so offering your distant relative’s rumored remedy to resolve their speech issues isn’t likely wanted or helpful information.  In fact, many people who stutter have accepted their stuttering as divergent speech — just another way of talking — and we should follow suit! 3. Learn about stuttering resources. There are important resources that should be shared when asked. These encourage and focus on information, peer support, acceptance of stuttering and advocacy.  Resources that encourage self-acceptance and include people who stutter on their boards and in their leadership should be given special attention! 4.  Promote positive images of people who stutter. Positive images of people who stutter are rare.  In books, film and TV we are often portrayed as anti-social, bitter, comical or with bumbling incompetency. It is important that people who stutter are reflected in complex ways that represent the full human experience. These aren’t necessarily stories of overcoming stuttering, but living with it and helping the reader deepen their understanding of what that experience is like.  Recommended books and films include: Books: “Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen” by Nina G. “Shining a Light on Stuttering: How One Man Used Comedy to Turn His Impairment into Applause” by Dale Williams and Jaik Campbell “Out With It: How Stuttering Helped Me to Find My Voice” by Katherine Preston “Stuttering Is Cool: Mischief, Mayhem and Mirth” by Daniele Rossi Children’s books: “Gabriela Speaks Out” by Teresa E. Harris “Adventures of a Stuttering Superhero: Adventure #1 Interrupt-itis” by Kim Block Movies: “When I Stutter” “The King’s Speech” “Rocket Science” 5.  Making your library a community space for people who stutter would be the neon sign that says “we get it!” Hosting events or support groups that the National Stuttering Association (NSA) and other organizations sponsor is a great start. October 22 is International Stuttering Awareness Day. The second week of May is National Stuttering Awareness Week in the United States. All of these awareness days can help educate your communities about stuttering. It is also an excellent opportunity to partner with local stuttering organizations like the NSA support groups to hear what they would like to see and how the library could be helpful. People who stutter or have other speech-based disabilities are as diverse patrons as other library patrons.  They are likely looking up books that are of personal interest to them. They should have these opportunities in places where they can freely ask questions.  These are just a few recommendations, but there is likely more that can be done! The best way to know what the stuttering community at your library wants is to simply ask them. Keeping the lines of communication open is key to serving any community. These are just a few steps to making the library a more welcoming place for everyone.  

Nina G
Nina G @nina-g
contributor

5 Ways Libraries Can Support the Stuttering Community

As a person who stutters, I have heard it all!  Upon introducing myself, I inevitably might hear “did you forget your name?”  or “wh-wh-wh-what?” People who stutter find particular difficulties when interacting with people in a customer service capacity.  Last year there was a news article about a Starbucks customer who found himself mocked by a barista who used the stuttering version of his name to identify his beverage.  This may sound extreme, but so many of the 1 percent of the adult population who stutters has at least one experience where they were being mocked by a person who was in a role to help or serve them. Librarians and library staff are among the most helpful people I have ever encountered!  They are excited to help patrons find the perfect book or resource. In the past few decades there has been a push to make libraries more welcoming places for everyone, including people with disabilities.  This has gone beyond ramps to include trainings on customer service with a focus on serving people with disabilities, displaying visual icons to help people with dyslexia navigate the Dewey Decimal System, and software to make their computers accessible to people with an array of disabilities. In my experience, stuttering is often ignored because the library barriers don’t seem so obvious. Nonetheless, libraries will want to minimize awkward interactions like the one that occurred at Starbucks. The following are a few tips to consider. They include basic etiquette and also ways to reach out to the stuttering community, making libraries a place for resources and support. 1.  Stuttering, like many other speech-based disabilities, is not apparent. You won’t know someone stutters by looking at them, which means anyone approaching you might be a person who stutters. Knowing there is diversity in how people verbally express themselves helps make your interactions more inclusive. Assuming that anyone might stutter or speak in a variety of ways prepares you to address these differences when you encounter them. Some tips for facilitating these interactions include: Not interrupting the person and letting them finish what they are saying. Maintaining eye contact. If the person says something you don’t completely understand, repeat the part you did understand so that they only have to fill in the part you missed instead of saying the whole thing over again. 2.  Don’t try to “fix” them. People who stutter are often approached with cures for how to resolve their speech difficulties. These have included everything from old wives tales to hallucinogenics and miracle cures seen on talk shows. These are rarely helpful. Many people who stutter have likely been doing so for a long time and have tried multiple ways to manage their speech.  There are no known cures for stuttering, so offering your distant relative’s rumored remedy to resolve their speech issues isn’t likely wanted or helpful information.  In fact, many people who stutter have accepted their stuttering as divergent speech — just another way of talking — and we should follow suit! 3. Learn about stuttering resources. There are important resources that should be shared when asked. These encourage and focus on information, peer support, acceptance of stuttering and advocacy.  Resources that encourage self-acceptance and include people who stutter on their boards and in their leadership should be given special attention! 4.  Promote positive images of people who stutter. Positive images of people who stutter are rare.  In books, film and TV we are often portrayed as anti-social, bitter, comical or with bumbling incompetency. It is important that people who stutter are reflected in complex ways that represent the full human experience. These aren’t necessarily stories of overcoming stuttering, but living with it and helping the reader deepen their understanding of what that experience is like.  Recommended books and films include: Books: “Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen” by Nina G. “Shining a Light on Stuttering: How One Man Used Comedy to Turn His Impairment into Applause” by Dale Williams and Jaik Campbell “Out With It: How Stuttering Helped Me to Find My Voice” by Katherine Preston “Stuttering Is Cool: Mischief, Mayhem and Mirth” by Daniele Rossi Children’s books: “Gabriela Speaks Out” by Teresa E. Harris “Adventures of a Stuttering Superhero: Adventure #1 Interrupt-itis” by Kim Block Movies: “When I Stutter” “The King’s Speech” “Rocket Science” 5.  Making your library a community space for people who stutter would be the neon sign that says “we get it!” Hosting events or support groups that the National Stuttering Association (NSA) and other organizations sponsor is a great start. October 22 is International Stuttering Awareness Day. The second week of May is National Stuttering Awareness Week in the United States. All of these awareness days can help educate your communities about stuttering. It is also an excellent opportunity to partner with local stuttering organizations like the NSA support groups to hear what they would like to see and how the library could be helpful. People who stutter or have other speech-based disabilities are as diverse patrons as other library patrons.  They are likely looking up books that are of personal interest to them. They should have these opportunities in places where they can freely ask questions.  These are just a few recommendations, but there is likely more that can be done! The best way to know what the stuttering community at your library wants is to simply ask them. Keeping the lines of communication open is key to serving any community. These are just a few steps to making the library a more welcoming place for everyone.  

Nina G
Nina G @nina-g
contributor

5 Ways Libraries Can Support the Stuttering Community

As a person who stutters, I have heard it all!  Upon introducing myself, I inevitably might hear “did you forget your name?”  or “wh-wh-wh-what?” People who stutter find particular difficulties when interacting with people in a customer service capacity.  Last year there was a news article about a Starbucks customer who found himself mocked by a barista who used the stuttering version of his name to identify his beverage.  This may sound extreme, but so many of the 1 percent of the adult population who stutters has at least one experience where they were being mocked by a person who was in a role to help or serve them. Librarians and library staff are among the most helpful people I have ever encountered!  They are excited to help patrons find the perfect book or resource. In the past few decades there has been a push to make libraries more welcoming places for everyone, including people with disabilities.  This has gone beyond ramps to include trainings on customer service with a focus on serving people with disabilities, displaying visual icons to help people with dyslexia navigate the Dewey Decimal System, and software to make their computers accessible to people with an array of disabilities. In my experience, stuttering is often ignored because the library barriers don’t seem so obvious. Nonetheless, libraries will want to minimize awkward interactions like the one that occurred at Starbucks. The following are a few tips to consider. They include basic etiquette and also ways to reach out to the stuttering community, making libraries a place for resources and support. 1.  Stuttering, like many other speech-based disabilities, is not apparent. You won’t know someone stutters by looking at them, which means anyone approaching you might be a person who stutters. Knowing there is diversity in how people verbally express themselves helps make your interactions more inclusive. Assuming that anyone might stutter or speak in a variety of ways prepares you to address these differences when you encounter them. Some tips for facilitating these interactions include: Not interrupting the person and letting them finish what they are saying. Maintaining eye contact. If the person says something you don’t completely understand, repeat the part you did understand so that they only have to fill in the part you missed instead of saying the whole thing over again. 2.  Don’t try to “fix” them. People who stutter are often approached with cures for how to resolve their speech difficulties. These have included everything from old wives tales to hallucinogenics and miracle cures seen on talk shows. These are rarely helpful. Many people who stutter have likely been doing so for a long time and have tried multiple ways to manage their speech.  There are no known cures for stuttering, so offering your distant relative’s rumored remedy to resolve their speech issues isn’t likely wanted or helpful information.  In fact, many people who stutter have accepted their stuttering as divergent speech — just another way of talking — and we should follow suit! 3. Learn about stuttering resources. There are important resources that should be shared when asked. These encourage and focus on information, peer support, acceptance of stuttering and advocacy.  Resources that encourage self-acceptance and include people who stutter on their boards and in their leadership should be given special attention! 4.  Promote positive images of people who stutter. Positive images of people who stutter are rare.  In books, film and TV we are often portrayed as anti-social, bitter, comical or with bumbling incompetency. It is important that people who stutter are reflected in complex ways that represent the full human experience. These aren’t necessarily stories of overcoming stuttering, but living with it and helping the reader deepen their understanding of what that experience is like.  Recommended books and films include: Books: “Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen” by Nina G. “Shining a Light on Stuttering: How One Man Used Comedy to Turn His Impairment into Applause” by Dale Williams and Jaik Campbell “Out With It: How Stuttering Helped Me to Find My Voice” by Katherine Preston “Stuttering Is Cool: Mischief, Mayhem and Mirth” by Daniele Rossi Children’s books: “Gabriela Speaks Out” by Teresa E. Harris “Adventures of a Stuttering Superhero: Adventure #1 Interrupt-itis” by Kim Block Movies: “When I Stutter” “The King’s Speech” “Rocket Science” 5.  Making your library a community space for people who stutter would be the neon sign that says “we get it!” Hosting events or support groups that the National Stuttering Association (NSA) and other organizations sponsor is a great start. October 22 is International Stuttering Awareness Day. The second week of May is National Stuttering Awareness Week in the United States. All of these awareness days can help educate your communities about stuttering. It is also an excellent opportunity to partner with local stuttering organizations like the NSA support groups to hear what they would like to see and how the library could be helpful. People who stutter or have other speech-based disabilities are as diverse patrons as other library patrons.  They are likely looking up books that are of personal interest to them. They should have these opportunities in places where they can freely ask questions.  These are just a few recommendations, but there is likely more that can be done! The best way to know what the stuttering community at your library wants is to simply ask them. Keeping the lines of communication open is key to serving any community. These are just a few steps to making the library a more welcoming place for everyone.  

Nina G
Nina G @nina-g
contributor

5 Ways Libraries Can Support the Stuttering Community

As a person who stutters, I have heard it all!  Upon introducing myself, I inevitably might hear “did you forget your name?”  or “wh-wh-wh-what?” People who stutter find particular difficulties when interacting with people in a customer service capacity.  Last year there was a news article about a Starbucks customer who found himself mocked by a barista who used the stuttering version of his name to identify his beverage.  This may sound extreme, but so many of the 1 percent of the adult population who stutters has at least one experience where they were being mocked by a person who was in a role to help or serve them. Librarians and library staff are among the most helpful people I have ever encountered!  They are excited to help patrons find the perfect book or resource. In the past few decades there has been a push to make libraries more welcoming places for everyone, including people with disabilities.  This has gone beyond ramps to include trainings on customer service with a focus on serving people with disabilities, displaying visual icons to help people with dyslexia navigate the Dewey Decimal System, and software to make their computers accessible to people with an array of disabilities. In my experience, stuttering is often ignored because the library barriers don’t seem so obvious. Nonetheless, libraries will want to minimize awkward interactions like the one that occurred at Starbucks. The following are a few tips to consider. They include basic etiquette and also ways to reach out to the stuttering community, making libraries a place for resources and support. 1.  Stuttering, like many other speech-based disabilities, is not apparent. You won’t know someone stutters by looking at them, which means anyone approaching you might be a person who stutters. Knowing there is diversity in how people verbally express themselves helps make your interactions more inclusive. Assuming that anyone might stutter or speak in a variety of ways prepares you to address these differences when you encounter them. Some tips for facilitating these interactions include: Not interrupting the person and letting them finish what they are saying. Maintaining eye contact. If the person says something you don’t completely understand, repeat the part you did understand so that they only have to fill in the part you missed instead of saying the whole thing over again. 2.  Don’t try to “fix” them. People who stutter are often approached with cures for how to resolve their speech difficulties. These have included everything from old wives tales to hallucinogenics and miracle cures seen on talk shows. These are rarely helpful. Many people who stutter have likely been doing so for a long time and have tried multiple ways to manage their speech.  There are no known cures for stuttering, so offering your distant relative’s rumored remedy to resolve their speech issues isn’t likely wanted or helpful information.  In fact, many people who stutter have accepted their stuttering as divergent speech — just another way of talking — and we should follow suit! 3. Learn about stuttering resources. There are important resources that should be shared when asked. These encourage and focus on information, peer support, acceptance of stuttering and advocacy.  Resources that encourage self-acceptance and include people who stutter on their boards and in their leadership should be given special attention! 4.  Promote positive images of people who stutter. Positive images of people who stutter are rare.  In books, film and TV we are often portrayed as anti-social, bitter, comical or with bumbling incompetency. It is important that people who stutter are reflected in complex ways that represent the full human experience. These aren’t necessarily stories of overcoming stuttering, but living with it and helping the reader deepen their understanding of what that experience is like.  Recommended books and films include: Books: “Stutterer Interrupted: The Comedian Who Almost Didn’t Happen” by Nina G. “Shining a Light on Stuttering: How One Man Used Comedy to Turn His Impairment into Applause” by Dale Williams and Jaik Campbell “Out With It: How Stuttering Helped Me to Find My Voice” by Katherine Preston “Stuttering Is Cool: Mischief, Mayhem and Mirth” by Daniele Rossi Children’s books: “Gabriela Speaks Out” by Teresa E. Harris “Adventures of a Stuttering Superhero: Adventure #1 Interrupt-itis” by Kim Block Movies: “When I Stutter” “The King’s Speech” “Rocket Science” 5.  Making your library a community space for people who stutter would be the neon sign that says “we get it!” Hosting events or support groups that the National Stuttering Association (NSA) and other organizations sponsor is a great start. October 22 is International Stuttering Awareness Day. The second week of May is National Stuttering Awareness Week in the United States. All of these awareness days can help educate your communities about stuttering. It is also an excellent opportunity to partner with local stuttering organizations like the NSA support groups to hear what they would like to see and how the library could be helpful. People who stutter or have other speech-based disabilities are as diverse patrons as other library patrons.  They are likely looking up books that are of personal interest to them. They should have these opportunities in places where they can freely ask questions.  These are just a few recommendations, but there is likely more that can be done! The best way to know what the stuttering community at your library wants is to simply ask them. Keeping the lines of communication open is key to serving any community. These are just a few steps to making the library a more welcoming place for everyone.  

Nina G
Nina G @nina-g
contributor

Tips for Public Speaking With a Stutter

As a comedian and professional speaker, a large part of my life consists of standing in front of people and talking. Because I am a person who stutters, many see my career choice as contradictory. They wonder how someone like me could possibly have the guts to get up and address an audience. The truth is that stuttering doesn’t interfere with my job at all. As you might imagine, I’ve gotten countless emails and YouTube comments from stuttering brothers and sisters asking for advice on public speaking. It has truly been touching to hear from you all! So, by popular demand, here are my tips for giving a successful presentation. Whether you have stuttering / speech issues or just want to be a better speaker, I hope you find these helpful! People who stutter can be good communicators! Unfortunately, stuttering is referred to as a “communication disorder,” implying we are less able communicators than everyone else. It’s simply not true! There are plenty of fluent people who could improve their communication skills, and plenty of stutterers who do just fine. Good communication skills include eye contact, fluctuating the tone of your voice, body language, and using distance to emphasize your talking points. Using these techniques in a way that is authentic to who you are is key. I tend to be a silly person, at times kind of weird, and even in professional situations I try to remain true to who I am. Using different voices, hand motions, and making eye contact with everyone in the room helps convey my objectives. Remember communication isn’t limited to your voice. Things like videos, show-and-tell objects, visual aids, audio cues, and Power Point slides provide an endless range of possibilities. Sometimes I’ll even do an interpretive dance to help explain the neurological processes involved in dyslexia. Using other modes of presenting is just good teaching. You are more than a speaker; you are conducting the audience’s understanding and your mouth is just one of your instruments. Be passionate about your subject! You know what I don’t like to talk about? Things I don’t care about! As someone who stutters, I understand that what I want to say is sacred. Even in my younger days of feeling awkward and ashamed, I would suddenly find the ability to speak up if it concerned something I was passionate about. Enthusiasm has the power to break through fear. When presenting on a topic, be passionate and knowledgeable. If what you love is modes of transportation from the Civil War, do your presentation on that (assuming it’s in an appropriate context… it might be an odd choice for an Avon convention). If you care deeply about your topic, your audience will listen and your excitement will be contagious. I always try to speak from the heart and make things relatable. Over the years I’ve developed an arsenal of stories on different topics. These stories can be planned into a presentation, or even better, they may come up at spontaneous moments so people think you’re talking to them off-script (little do they know…) You might not love public speaking, but, if you love what you are speaking about and focus on it, you will ultimately be in your comfort zone. That will stand out above anything else. “I stutter and you are going to have to wait patiently for all my brilliant ideas…” When do you tell a person that you stutter? Do you let it happen organically? Do you strive for complete fluency, avoiding words that usually cause you to stutter? These are all questions I have asked myself. I remember being in high school speech class and going to ridiculous lengths to appear “normal” to the other kids. I wrote speeches that omitted any words I thought would make me stutter. I tried covering up my stutter with funny voices. One time I even did my presentation in the form of a rap. So much for appearing normal! Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace my own speech and stop feeling ashamed. A large part of this came from meeting other people who stutter. I highly recommend finding a National Stuttering Association chapter or conference. The validation of being with people who talk like you is an important step towards self-acceptance. With self-acceptance comes the ability to own your stuttering and address it with confidence. When I’m giving a presentation or doing stand-up, I make a point to disclose my stuttering as soon as possible. If I’m on a job interview, the first thing I say is “I stutter and you are going to have to wait patiently for all my brilliant ideas.” It’s a playful way to break the ice while letting the other person know I don’t need help finishing my sentences. Since most people have little experience interacting with stutterers, it’s a good idea to take charge from the beginning and (politely) let them know how to talk to you — it will save you both some awkward moments later on. Everyone is going to disclose their stuttering differently, so find what works best for you. Remember, good presenting isn’t all about you! Not everybody gets this one, especially my college professors in the 1990s. As a public speaker, yes, you are the one on stage or at the podium, but it isn’t all about you. When I’m presenting, I find it helpful to think of myself more as a facilitator than a speaker. The audience should be focused on the thing I’m talking about, not on me. There’s a pressure in our culture to be constantly talking and in command of the room, but there are other ways of engaging people that don’t involve being in the spotlight. Here are some suggestions: Walk and talk activities: have participants walk around the building or the block for a few minutes and discuss a given topic. They’ll get some fresh air, have a chance to play with the new ideas you’ve given them, and then come back feeling rejuvenated for the rest of your presentation. Small, medium, and large group discussion: give your audience a chance to actively process what they’ve learned, instead of just passively absorbing it. People need to construct their own knowledge through interaction; just sitting there listening to you isn’t going to do that. Pair and share: Put people in pairs (sometimes I’ll have them find another person with the same sock, hair, or eye color) and give them topics to discuss. This approach has the advantage of involving people who might be shy about speaking in a group setting. “I just said three P words in a row! Try saying that if you stutter!” There might be times when stuttering comes into the foreground of your presentation. When this happens, it’s best to acknowledge the situation and be good-humored about it. For example, there’s a joke in my stand-up where I have to say three p-words in a row. When the triple-p’s inevitably trip me up, I just spin it into another joke: “Try saying that if you stutter… I had to practice it in the car on the way over here!” Let me give a more everyday example. I was recently leading a workshop where I had to demonstrate Google’s speech-to-text software. When I asked participants for a search term, one woman suggested “hieroglyphics” (a word invented by the ancient Greeks to make me stutter). I went ahead and gave it my best, stuttering on the word as the software butchered it into “hey hey lyrics.” I shrugged and said, “Google speech obviously doesn’t like people who stutter.” This got a laugh and put those who might have been uncomfortable with my speech at ease. It also gave me an opportunity to comment on software’s limitations. What’s important is that I had sense of humor and remained a good communicator throughout the process. Final thoughts That concludes my advice for now. I hope you go into your public speaking engagements feeling proud and empowered. Remember: it’s your stuttering, your presentation, and your audience. You may not have control of your stuttering, but you do have control over your presentation, so seize it! Read and see more at Nina G. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor  here .

Nina G
Nina G @nina-g
contributor

The Moment My Dad Taught Me Not to Be Ashamed of Disability

My father was born with hearing loss. In elementary school he was seated in the back of the class with a box that supposedly amplified sound so he could hear better. As many of you know, putting the child with hearing loss in the back of the class is possibly the worst idea ever. He spent years being pulled out to go to speech therapy while in elementary school. They even tried an experimental radiation treatment on my dad to cure his hearing problems. Sometimes as a kid, he would sit on the curb of the street and wonder why he was born with a disability and wished it would go away. I was fortunate to be born to a father who had these experiences. When I was 2 years old I began showing signs of a central auditory processing disorder in the form of being a “late talker.” In third grade I was diagnosed with learning disabilities. Around the same time I began to stutter, which, like learning disabilities, is neurological in nature. I had a really difficult time in school and it wore on my self-worth and view of who I was and what I had to offer to the world. Unlike many children with disabilities, I was born into a family where I wasn’t “special.” I was normal. My working middle-class parents already had a blueprint for understanding disability which was, “It is something you have so you deal with it.” My parents showed me that the teachers who didn’t always accommodate me or instill self-esteem were full of pooh-pooh (trying to keep this clean for a family website). Above all, my dad knew what it felt like to feel isolated and he even still validates how difficult it was for me as a kid and relates to it personally. Because of his own experience as a child, my father knew what it took to have a child with disabilities. My grandfather, who wasn’t necessarily warmest guy in the world, drove my dad over 40 miles in a 1949 Oldsmobile to get him the best possible assistance for his hearing loss. Between my own father’s day job and his night job doing janitorial work, he would drive me 40 miles to see my favorite speech therapist, Elaine. Of course he took the opportunity to nap in the waiting room, but he was there with me. Once, after waking him up, Elaine said, “You know, Jerry (my dad’s name), there are other speech therapists closer to you.” He replied “Yeah, but Nina likes you.” My dad showed me having a disability was just another aspect of life and there wasn’t anything to be embarrassed about. When I was in the sixth grade he coached my Catholic Youth Organization girls’ softball team (see video for story).  He announced to the girls, “I’m deaf and you’re just going to have to speak up when you are talking to me.” Horrified he would talk about this in the open, I waited for the girls to laugh. Then, I realized they completely didn’t care. He wasn’t ashamed of his own disability, nor was he ashamed of mine. Now when I do stand up comedy or public speaking, one of the first things I convey to people is, “I stutter, and you’re just going to have to wait patiently for all my brilliant ideas.” This is a direct result of my father being my role model. I realize not all you dads of kids with disabilities are lucky enough to have a disability yourself, but you can still model the pride, courage and hope my dad did. You will mess up sometimes and you will lose it. My family likes to laugh at the time when my father was teaching my brother how to use drafting tools and he threw an eraser across the room in frustration. What is more important than perfection is being authentic in your relationship with your child, with or without disabilities, and instilling the values you want your child to believe about themselves. There are going to be peers, teachers and passersby who will make them feel badly about themselves. This means it’s your job to protect them and make them feel both special and normal simultaneously. For all the dads who tell the jerks at the next table “What are you looking at?” when their child stimming away, happy Father’s Day! For all the dads who bring us to our favorite fast food restaurant after whatever kind of therapy we have to go to, thank you! For all the dads of kids with disabilities who coach our football teams to make sure a “wannabe Bill Belichick” isn’t undoing all the work you and your family have done, we love you! We may not always be able to express it, but you have given us strength. The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one unexpected source of comfort when it comes to your (or a loved one’s) disability and/or disease? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “ Share Your Story ” page for more about our submission guidelines. Want to help end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook . And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night .

Nina G
Nina G @nina-g
contributor

Tips for Interacting With People Who Stutter

As a person who stutters, I have encountered countless people who are unsure of how to respond to my speech. I have been hung up on because they think my phone has lost its signal and I’ve been told “It’s okay, just take a breath and take your time,” or “Oh, did you forget your name?” (Many of us who stutter, stutter on our names). It’s common to encounter a person who stutters, whether they are a co-worker, student, family member, or friend, but it’s not common to know how to react. There are more than 3 million people in the United States who stutter, according to the National Stuttering Association. Yet, many people still don’t understand stuttering or know how to best communicate with someone who stutters. The following are some tips for interacting with a person who stutters: 1. Use person-first language. A person is not their stutter — it’s only one aspect of them. That is why the stuttering community prefers to be called “people who stutter” instead of “stutterers.” It is only one aspect of the individual. 2. Do not complete sentences. “I would like p-p-p-” “Pumpernickle? Pizza? Pasta?” Numerous times I have had people try to complete my sentence. This can be frustrating because I am trying to communicate, and it feels like the other individual is impatient. Plus, they’re almost always wrong. It is best to remain patient and wait for the person to complete their thought. 3. Listen to what is being said and not how it is being said. When talking to a person who stutters, it’s important to listen to the content. When you make observations about the stuttering that are out of context, it can make the person feel like they are not being heard. Comments like “slow down” or “It’s okay, relax” are not helpful. 4. Remember stuttering is a brain-based disability, not a psychological disorder. People stutter because there’s a difference in the left hemisphere of their brain where language capabilities are located. This is why people stutter when they speak, but they do not stutter when they sing, rap, or talk in a cartoon-like voice. These are all functions of the right side of the brain. Stuttering is not a reflection of a personality disorder or deeper psychological issue. 5. Become an ally. Becoming an ally for a person who stutters is easy. Here are some things you can do: Not everyone who stutters is comfortable reading aloud. Ask the person before they are called on if they are comfortable and how else they might be able to participate. Be patient and listen. Don’t tell the person who stutters about ways to make them more fluent, whether they are scientific, homeopathic or otherwise. Most of us have tried everything from faith healers to speech therapy and still stutter. People continue to stutter because of a neurological difference, not because they are lazy in using their speech tools. Remember stuttering is just another way to speak, like an accent. Some people are comfortable with their speech and choose to stutter openly. When someone cuts off a person who stutters, you can be an ally by saying “Wait, I think they’re not done yet.” Tell others what you have learned here. The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe the moment someone changed the way you think about disability and/or illness. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Want to celebrate the human spirit? Like us on Facebook . And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night .