Thursday, May 4, 2017

Meeting notes from our 1st meeting on Sunday

Sunday's time showed to be working well with group members and think these meetings will get even bigger.  No traffic, easy to park and a late Sunday afternoon works really well. Try it out!

After introductions and why people like a Sunday meeting, we moved on to one of my group questions.  "Is there a particular action brought on by your stuttering that has shaped or hindered what you do and how you do it?  This could be making a call, ordering food at a drive thru, meeting new people etc.  I asked people to bring up a specific event.  So come to a meeting and you can hear our stories.

Key takeaways; Modification of one's speech and avoidance behavior causes can range from daily decisions such as ordering food, making and receiving calls at work, and even some fluency is worse around really old friends vs. new ones.

Questions we covered were;

What actions have you taken to try to improve the situation?

Have they been positive or negative?

Why do you think this is?

How do you think you could improve the situation?

The takeaway from several people were you need to get out of your comfort zone and try.  Many activities and sports is a perishable skill set if not practiced.  Well, speech and one's fluency is the same.  Practice more on the phones, call places to ask questions on the phone, take dance lessons to introduce yourself many times a night, practice going thru a drive thru, join a group to meet others.  Taking charge on one's stuttering is controlling what you CAN CONTROL.  Putting yourself in positions you can practice better fluency really comes down to confidence.  Fake it to you make it LOL.  Once one can understand to speak when they are ready, will their fluency and confidence improve.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

NSA Orange County Chapter February 23, 2017 Meeting update

Four members were present along with two SLP Graduate students from Cal State Fullerton. The students observed the meeting and then asked questions of us near the end. One of our members, a high school senior, applied to Stanford & MIT & was accepted at Stanford. He's waiting to hear from MIT before making a decision. His field is Math. Way to go Dillon! (Personally I'd stick with Stanford as it gets mighty cold in Cambridge in the winter!) The regular Riverside Group member came to this meeting - thanks again, Raoul.

We started with information about upcoming events:
    The NSA national convention is in Dallas this year, July 5-9. (I can't wait for the next convention - Minneapolis in January!) Seriously, NSA wisely keeps hotel costs down by holding conventions in vacation "off seasons." It will be hot in Dallas in July, but most of the time people will be indoors.

     A "Friends Who Stutter Workshop" will be held at Chapman University, April 1, 9:30 to 4:00. Loryn McGill, an SLP, Chapman faculty member & sometime attendee at our meetings, is one of the coordinators. This workshop brings together young children and teenagers who stutter, their parents, members of stuttering self-help groups, and speech-language pathologists. Adults who stutter are encouraged to join. Separate workshops will be presented for adults, teenagers, children, and professionals. The format includes presentations, small group discussions and panel presentations. Emphasis is on integrating treatment techniques and support services for people who stutter. Offerings for children will include enjoyable workshops on stuttering facilitated by speech-language pathologists and members of the adult stuttering community. Lunch - pizza, cookies and drink - is included in the registration fee.  For more information: Workshop eventbrite page

   The Riverside & San Diego chapters are having a social at the Spaghetti Factory in San Marcos on March 11. I believe this is open to other chapters, so OC members can attend. Or we can just crash it! Seriously, I'll get more info on this.

We started with introductions and the question "Who do you think stole Tom Brady's jersey?" For those who didn't know who Tom Brady is or couldn't care less, the alternative question was "What's your favorite vegetable?" (Introductory questions & Table Topics are designed to get people talking in a safe & supportive environment; they don't have to be deep philosophical questions.) One member said he knew who stole the jersey but was holding out for the book & movie deal. Other members gave their favorite vegetables - broccoli, squash & cilantro. The cilantro lover said he sprinkles chopped cilantro on his cereal in the morning. Other members immediately moved away from him - just kidding! (I thought I was weird for sometimes eating sardines for breakfast.)

Next we did Table Topics, with each person talking for about 5 minutes. Table topics are becoming a regular feature of the meetings. Topics included: "Favorite Vacation Experience," "Modern Hi-Tech Communications," "How to Balance Work/Social/Alone Time," & "The Basis of Friendship." The member who had this last topic said his stuttering was an advantage, because it helped him choosing friends - he wouldn't want anyone who made fun of his stuttering as a friend.

With the time remaining, we had a topic for discussion: "Looking back on your life, is there something you wish you had done concerning your stuttering that you didn't do?"  Everyone talked about some variation of the same theme here: wishing they had been more open about  stuttering, hadn't hid it so much & had started speech therapy sooner. 

Finally the students asked a few questions including "How old were you when you became aware of your stuttering?"

That's it for now: next meeting is March 9, led by the one & only Matt deHeras. See you all then.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

NSA Orange County Chapter January 26, 2017 Meeting Update

I know this is a little late, but I’ve been up to my neck in rabid gerbils with stuff to do. It never ends. I’m going somewhat from memory here so I may not have captured everything.

Six people were present, the best turnout we’ve had in awhile.  I hope this is the start of a trend. Two new members were present – welcome Jenifer & Reema! These two ladies were past co-chapter leaders of the Long Beach NSA chapter. That chapter is no longer meeting, but Jenifer & Reema hope to get it going again. A regular member of the Riverside chapter was also present. He’s becoming an NSA junky like me, regularly attending two different NSA chapter meetings each month.

We started with introductions & the question “Did you include any goals about your stuttering in your New Year's resolutions?” One person said he has the same goal as always: try not to hide my stuttering. And, along with that, try to let myself stutter in front of someone who hasn’t heard me stutter. Another person wants to “ignore” his stuttering. By this he meant he wants not to be so much aware that he stutters, as it uses a lot of energy & time. Another person plans to return to speech therapy after a 5-year hiatus.

Next we did Table Topics, with each person speaking for about 5 minutes. Topics included: “What’s the hardest part of your job?” “What has been your greatest adventure?” “What is your favorite place to visit?” “Have sports gotten out of hand?” and  “Where would you like to visit that you haven’t yet?” Again, table topics is a good way for people to talk in front of others and practice any fluency techniques in a safe environment.

That's all for now. There may not be a meeting on February 9, but there will definitely be one on February 23. Matt & I will keep you posted. Gotta get back to those gerbils.

Friday, December 23, 2016

NSA Orange County December 22, 2016 Meeting Update

Hello all,

Four people attended the meeting last night, including a new member - welcome Dillon! Dillon's dad was also present, as well as a regular member (and new chapter leader) of the Riverside NSA Group. There has been some "cross chapter" attendance lately. I often attend Riverside meetings (yes, I'm an NSA junky), & another member of the Riverside group often comes to our meetings. A good thing all around I think. 

Along with introductions, the question was asked: "What's the best Christmas present you ever got?" Replies included: a new bike at about age ten (a green, 24 inch-er kept hidden in the basement until Christmas), a new modem for an ancient Commodore 64 computer when the recipient was in his teens, a new stereo system (remember those round things called "records"?), & an upcoming ski trip.

Next we did the always popular (well, almost always) "Table Topics."  Subjects were: "Outdoor Recreation," wherein the speaker reminisced about hunting & fishing in New Jersey in his teens & 20s & also hiking & biking;  "Internet Websites," where the speaker talked about the many websites he visits and the amount of time he spends on them; "Can Money Buy Happiness?" -  on this one the speaker made a point that once you have enough money to cover basic needs like food & shelter, any money left over can buy you pleasure or relaxation, but not necessarily happiness. (I'm not sure I got this exactly right, I'm working from memory - in my case a poor one). And the last: "Why Being A Nice Guy Is Sometimes Seen As Being Weak." This was especially interesting as it led to conversations about: how guys, especially, are naturally competitive with each other; the nature of leadership; when to insist on something even when being opposed & making yourself unpopular; & how to deal with unpleasant people in authority. All of which showed how interesting the discussions we have that aren't about stuttering can be.

Dillon's dad brought up another interesting topic near the end of the meeting: "How does stuttering effect career choices?" We didn't have a lot of time to get into this, but one member said he majored in chemistry in college and will never be certain if he at least partially did so because there wasn't a lot of speaking involved. 

All in all, a great meeting to end 2016.  Next meeting will be January 12, 2017. (How can it possibly be 2017 already?!)

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL. See you next year.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Orange County National Stuttering Association October 27, 2016 Meeting Update.

Hello all. I’m sorry to report there were only two members present at this meeting, including myself. This group has been together for about five years now. I don’t know why this happens.

The other member & myself decided to have the meeting anyway & we stayed the whole time. We had an interesting talk about different aspects of stuttering. The other member has developed a system of speaking that works very well for him.  He’s even written a book about it available on Amazon. Go here: 

(If this link doesn’t work, the name of the book is: Stuttering: Cause & Cure by T. C. Cascio)

His system involves what he calls “running the gauntlet” which is a way of doing away with secondary actions that have nothing to do with what you’re trying to say.

We also talked a little about the recent movie that was shown at Cal State Fullerton several weeks ago, “The Way We Talk”. I saw the movie & thought it was excellent. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly advise that you do. You can rent it or buy it on  It’s being shown again at Cal State San Marcos on December 2nd. Go here for more details:

The movie presents a couple of takes on stuttering  that I think are out of the ordinary.

That’s all for now. The next meeting is this coming Thursday, November 10. Let’s hope there’s more than two people there.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Orange County National Stuttering Association September 22, 2016 Meeting Update

Four were present, including a regular member of the Riverside NSA Chapter – thanks for coming, Raoul!  Raoul says he’d like to attend as many Orange County meetings as he can. This writer also attends about two thirds of the Riverside Chapter meetings. (Yes, it’s true; I’m an NSA junky.) We started with introductions and the question: What’s one thing you haven’t done yet but want to do before you, shall we say,  “assume room temperature”?  One member whose parents are immigrants from Italy would like to travel to Italy, maybe to his parents’ home town. Also, to see other places like Rome & Florence & to see some of the art, like the Sistine Chapel Ceiling. Another would also like travel to Italy & other European countries to see the historic churches. Another wants to go camping with his 2 kids in a remote area. He keeps buying camping equipment with this intention. The fourth wants to do a vacation stay at an “over water bungalow.” Elevated over the ocean, these hotel rooms on stilts are most often found in the Maldives and the South Pacific, but they also crop up in unexpected places such as Switzerland, Malaysia, and Cambodia.

We went over some upcoming events:
NSA is starting a family chapter in Orange County, with a get-together at Chapman University on October 8. For more info contact Loryn McGill or Reuben Schuff Family chapters are oriented to middle school and high school ages, 12-17 year olds.
There’s going to be a FREE screening of the award winning documentary film “The Way We Talk” at CA State Fullerton on Monday, October 10 at 7:00 pm. Tickets are limited. More info: and here:

There was supposed to be a regional NSA conference at UC Riverside in October, but I haven’t heard anything about it lately. Matt is checking on it.

Next we played a game we hadn’t played in a while – the ever popular “I went to the Beach”!  For you uninitiated, in this game the first speaker says “I went to the beach & I saw a [object beginning with A].” The next speaker repeats that and adds an object beginning with B - and so on all the way to Z. What does this silly game have to do with stuttering? Most of us who stutter are almost always conscious, at some level, of their stuttering. It’s always there in the back of our minds. Sometimes when we are concentrating very hard, like you have in this game, we may not be as conscious of stuttering & feel less anxiety about it.  It can almost be like the person  who stutters “forgets” he stutters. He may not stutter at all, or stutter but not be aware of it. I’ve always thought if you stutter but aren’t aware of it, it’s just like not stuttering because all of the anxiety is gone. Most people who stutter start when they start talking, but don’t become aware of it until several years later. This point, when the child becomes aware of his stuttering, is the turning point and is when whatever anxiety, embarrassment, he’ll have about his stuttering begins. Just some of the mysterious things about stuttering.

We used the remaining limited time on the topic: If a person who knew nothing about stuttering asked, “Why do you stutter?”, what would you say?  One member long thought he started stuttering after being scared by a big dog when he was 5. His mother said he didn’t talk for 2 days afterward. He now believes, however, that stuttering is neurological. Another member long thought it was a combination of a poor relationship with his father &, shall we say, “unpleasant” experiences in Catholic school. He remembers becoming aware he stuttered in 4th grade, the first year he attended Catholic school. He now also believes stuttering is neurological. I believe this neurological basis for stuttering is the prevailing one in the latest research.

That’s all for now. The next meeting is October 13. Same time, same place, led by Matt.