Open mic, open heart

open micLast October, "John" (not his real name) thought about coming to the CSA conference but decided no – a whole day with people who stutter wasn’t for him. This year, he walked to the front of the hall during the open mic session and talked freely about why this year was different.

“Community is our strength and after doing speech therapy I’ve realised it is the support of other people who stutter that makes all the difference.”

The CSA conference offers complete acceptance and understanding – it’s the one place where you can say exactly what you want to and be listened to fully. I was moved by the courage of people who came to the conference for the first time and shared their stories openly and honestly. One woman said she had some particularly hard classroom teaching assignments coming up - yes, she is a teacher – and another spoke about starting teacher training. “I might as well start speaking to people now because I’ll be doing it all the time soon.”

Kim Block’s keynote speech about her life deserves to be read in full – how she got herself to the first day of her human resources course and made herself stay there after hearing that she would need to introduce herself – is a case study in taking the really scary things one-small-step-at -a-time. “You have to get out there and take risks or you’re missing out on so much in life.”

Social media can be a support network too, as Carolina said. “When you are feeling down and having a bad patch with your speech, go onto social media and find people who stutter, talk to your friends and search until you find the help you need. Yes it’s hard when you don’t want to, but I think you have to go forward in life, not stagnate.”

To the people who with friends and family who took that step forward on October 28 and came to the conference, thank you. I hope it was encouraging, and I hope to see you next year. You inspired us to make next year’s conference even better and to take new challenges in our own lives.

Our November newsletter and Facebook group will have more from the conference soon.

If you are thinking about the CSA conference for next October, I have just one word of advice. Come.


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