One of the highly dreaded, yet very rewarding, activities that I do with some of my clients is “advertising.”  Of course every student (and parent) begins speech therapy in hopes of reducing the frequency and severity of stuttering.  However, equally as important in any PWS (person who stutters) treatment plan should be to become their own advocate and “advertise” themselves as a person who stutters.   You can’t ALWAYS control your disfluencies, but you CAN help your communication partners understand stuttering and teach them ways to best assist you!  And as a bonus, advertising reduces the tension associated with thinking  “am I going to stutter?” “when am I going to stutter?”, “will they notice my stuttering?” etc. etc. etc.  Advertising can be as simple as saying “Just so you know sometimes I stutter, so please give me a few extra seconds to get out what I have to say.” Without that built up tension, you are open to speak freely and often more fluently!

Check this video out of a contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance?” who openly advertises about his stuttering. He clearly tells judges what helps him and makes him feel most comfortable (although most PWS may disagree with what he asks the judges to do…to each his own! ) This is a great example of how to advertise yourself as a person who stutters and let it inspire you rather than define you!
1. Practice, practice, practice!
Call restaurants and ask them their hours. Call retail stores and ask them if they have a particular thing in stock. Call when you know someone you’re comfortable with is not available so you can practice leaving voicemails. Call numbers that have voice activated systems and don’t cheat and use the keypad option! The more you practice for the sake of practicing, the less stressful it will be when you actually have to make a phone call because you will know what to expect.
2. Advertise!
If you’re calling a place or person that you don’t know, tell the person that picks up immediately that you stutter. Many people who stutter are fairly familiar with being hung up on, especially if their stuttering pattern includes blocks. If you let the person know you stutter, they will (hopefully!) be more patient and less likely to hang up due to perceiving your silent pause as a bad connection or a prank call. Advertising is, of course, easier said than done. However, once you do it a few times, you’ll find a “script” you’re comfortable with.
3. Know what you’re about to say!
This does not apply to all conversations, however having an idea of what you want to say and jotting it down when possible can help! You can especially do this during your practice calls. I have my students write down the questions they are planning on asking and either underline some words to voluntary stutter on or underline some feared words to act as a reminder to use their speech tools (i.e. cancellations, pull outs, prep sets).