Stuttering surveys: Susan quizzes people in the airport about stuttering
January 29, 2010
Carl Herder, M.A., CCC-SLP, BCS-F
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photo: Hyougushi

Susan just finished the January 2010 intensive program last week. She sent us this great story about her trip back to Indiana:I thought you'd like to hear something funny I did yesterday in the airport. I had a long delay in Newark and then a 3-hour layover in Chicago, so I pulled out my stuttering surveys! I surveyed a whole bunch of people, and it was actually way more fun than just sitting there. I got some nice compliments on my speech, too.Part of the reason I did this was because I wanted to prove to myself that my speech tools worked outside of NY, and they did! They worked in New Jersey and then in Chicago. It was a good way to build up a number of positive experiences for myself. On the Challenge Scale, this ranked even higher than the Subway Challenge because I had to actually approach people directly in a place where people aren't particularly thrilled to be, and introducing myself to other people is one of the hardest things for me. I admit, in Chicago, I didn't survey in my own terminal because I wanted to avoid potential awkwardness later on. I was surprised at how positively people responded, though. People actually seemed happy to have someone to talk to. And it was actually a little fun. I'd rather be talking to someone than sitting alone, people-watching and plugged into my iPod.I was SO scared the first day at AIS that we surveyed in the park, but I really see the value of this activity now. I introduced myself and I also did a lot of good stuttering education, too, explaining that no, stuttering is not caused by nerves. I'd really recommend this to others to take you out of your comfort zone. Keep a survey in your purse or your wallet, and you might find a time to pull it out. Tell people it's part of your speech therapy. People responded very positively to that because it lets them think they're helping you in some way, and it also lets them know why you're doing it.It's also a good opportunity to advertise that you stutter, so that you can more easily do it in the times when you need to. Mostly, it's a great way to confront the fear head-on. For me, the fear of stuttering is the most crippling aspect of it, so I'm trying to do away with it.When I finally got on the plane after all this surveying, I contemplated doing the Airplane Challenge, but you can't exactly jump out of the plane, and you know how airlines are these days...Thank you, Susan, for sharing your story. You've done an amazing job, and this is only the beginning!