Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hi, my name is Steven, I stutter, and I am a fan of all things stuttering!

Hello everyone,

It's very hard these days to see owners of professional sports teams as "fans." To the average Joe, these people often invoke images of greed and whining because they want everything their way and they charge extravagant prices for a day's worth of entertainment. But yet a few days ago as I was reading the sports section and there was a quote that caught my eye from the owner of the New York Mets, Fred Wilpon. Now although I am a die-hard Yankees fan, Wilpon made an interesting observation. "I am also a fan," he said.

A few months ago, the National Stuttering Association launched their page on Facebook. It's so hard to be anywhere in the world today and not be affected by social media. The days of relying wholly on television, radio, and newspapers for our news and information have been overtaken by the launch of MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. The amazing thing about Facebook is that not only is it a great way to keep in touch and also network, but you can join many groups and "be a fan" of anything. You can be a fan of your favorite radio station (I love listening to Mix 107.3 out of Washington DC online, so I am a fan of them LOL). You can be a fan of your favorite sports team. And like many other people who stutter, I am a fan of the National Stuttering Association. Some people may have seen a famous infomercial for the "Hair Club For Men" founded by Sy Sperling, which featured the catchphrase, "I'm not only the president, but I am also a client." In the same vein, not only am I an active volunteer and chapter leader of the NSA, but I am a fan of people who stutter.

In some ways, it can be hard for the world to understand why I consider myself of a fan of stuttering. After all, let's examine that. Has stuttering changed my life in so many ways? Yes, both in good ways and bad ones. Have I experienced frustration? Sure, who hasn't? But as I always stress, joining the National Stuttering Association has opened my eyes to a side of stuttering I never knew existed. A side of hope. A side of tolerance, respect, and understanding. A new point of view that we are on the verge of truly being recognized as a force in this world. That's just the tip of the iceberg, why I am a fan of stuttering.

But I am also a fan of stuttering because of what the future holds. At our national conference in Arizona (and I'd be remiss not to plug the upcoming conference for July 2010-check our web site, for details), at the request of our members, we had the inaugural research symposium, where four renowned speech pathologists presented their findings and where the future of treatments for stuttering were going, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience. One of those very panelists actually announced a major breakthrough regarding stuttering and the confirmation that there is a genetic connection. It is this promise of new discoveries why I am a fan of all things stuttering.

So why don't you become a fan of all things with the National Stuttering Association? Become a fan of ours on Facebook. Or better yet, join us and be a member! Be part of what is, as one of my colleagues described the NSA, as "the world's largest block party."

My name is Steven Kaufman and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.

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