Happy 24 Anniversary ADA

ada edited

Today is the 24th Anniversary of the ADA.  I was talking to a contrarian last night you was trying to convince me that the ADA isn’t needed because shouldn’t people just create access because they want to.  I, of course, said that if people actually treated each other right then we wouldn’t need civil rights laws.  Plus without the ADA and 504 there is no way in hell I would have gotten through college.  Thanks to supporters of the ADA (even Bush 1 and 2 who signed it into law and then put the teeth back in after the supreme court took it out) for creating access and freedom for more people.  Now let’s actually implement the law!

Wanted to share my ADA to celebrate!

The Grammar Shaming of Weird Al’s Word Crimes

Weird Al’s Word Crimes15-weird-al-word-crimes


“Hey!” I thought when I first heard Weird Al’s new song Word Crimes, “finally I can dance to a Marvin Gaye ripoff that isn’t a rape anthem!” Unfortunately, what I found is that both songs offer microagressions for me as a woman with a Learning Disability, but have a good beat that I can feel oppressed dancing to. I have respected and liked Weird Al since I was in middle school when Like a Sergeon came out, so I always look at his songs with a feeling of comfort. This is why I feel uneasy bring this up, but as a Stuttering Dyslexic who’s blog openly discloses, “I am choosing to let the little green and red lines dictate my editing. I am not having someone look at this before I publish it. I am just going to write. I am smart, most likely smarter than most good spellers and grammerers (ya, that’s a neologism–live with it). Obviously I am defensive because this is a difficult process for me and I want the reader to beware of any disjointed-ness and PLEASE don’t correct my spelling or grammar–just like you shouldn’t complete my sentences [when I stutter].” I felt it my duty to comment on Word Crimes.


First of all, Weird Al appologized for the lyrics “Saw your blog post. It’s fantastic. That was sarcastic (oh psych!). ‘Cause you write like a spastic.” People with Disabilities took offense because spastic is durogatory, especially to people with cerebral palsy and he totally owned up to it. Personally, I think this was the tip of the abelist iceberg regarding this song, from a dyslexic perspective. I don’t think the abelism comes with malice or that he really thinks that someoone with grammar difficulties should “get out the gene pool” (direct quote from his song). I see the song as a difference in worldviews. For him, apparently grammar and spelling is important and a prerequisite to express yourself. There is a reason I started to do stand up comedy. I can’t express myself as good in written words and I get sentiments like the ones that Weird Al sings about because people see writing in a standard way. I turned to comedy so that I could express myself more easily, even with a stutter. I feel the song is grammar shaming in the song Word Crimes. I am sure that it was not directed at dyslexics, but we do make up 10% of the population so it is hard (ya, I said hard instead of difficult) to not personalize the message. Also, as a comedian I don’t think he should appologize or not write this. But as an artist/activist I feel that it is important to look at his song from my perspective and perhaps educate others about a perspective that may not be seen in the mainstream.


There is so much I could say about the topic of Learning Disabiltiies and what the issues of this community are. Like the inequalties of education for people with Learning Disabilties and the failure of the school system to create a pipeline to college and careers instead of to prison is something that people need to know about but those are the kinds of things that make me so mad that I am just going to site them here: http://www.nyclu.org/schooltoprison. Needless to say, grammar is the least of our problems but we don’t necessarily have the forum to discuss these things, nor do we write in a way that will let us be heard.


One of the sentiments in the song is that you have to learn how to spell and use grammar correctly before you can express yourself. Fuck that! You express yourself no matter what. Misspellings, grammar, punctuation, speech impairment, can’t sing a tune, move differently than everyone else, fuck it! You say what you want to say. Fight elitism by not letting other people censor you for not doing what you want to do in a standarized boring way. Write, speak, dance, or whatever no matter who is critiziing you. In the meantime I will be looking for a Marvin Gaye ripoff that I don’t have to talk about in therapy.


Some of the lyrics that make me sad (i.e. make me experience mild PTSD flashbacks from 7.5 years of pre-Americans with Disablities Act Catholic School Education–sounds like a joke but kinda not):

If you can’t write in the proper way

If you don’t know how to conjugate

Maybe you flunked that class

And maybe now you find

That people mock you online

Don’t be a moron


You’d better slow down

And use the right pronoun

Show the world you’re no clown

I hate these word crimes


You really need a Full time proofreader

You dumb mouth-breather

I read your e-mail It’s quite apparent

Your grammar’s errant

You’re incoherent



Saw your blog post It’s really fantastic

That was sarcastic (Oh, psych!)

‘Cause you write like a spastic


I hate these Word Crimes

Your prose is dopey

Think you should only Write in emoji

Oh, you’re a lost cause

Go back to pre-scho

Get out of the gene pool

Try your best to not drool


The Stuttering Iceberg Gets a Makeover


reframe stuttering

[Image description: A vibrant photo of an iceberg showing the small, glimmering peaks above the water and a massive body beneath the water’s surface. “STUTTERING” is written over the peaks. Below the water’s surface appears words in multiple colors: “Denial, Fear, Shame, Anxiety, Isolation, Guilt, Hopelessness.” Next to this picture is an identical photo of the iceberg with “STUTTERING” above the water. Below the water’s surface are these words: “Acceptance, Courage, Pride, Comfort, Community, Kindness, Hope.”]

Recently I posted the image “Reframing the Stuttering Iceberg” on my blog.  The image and idea came years ago when I presented the concept at a stuttering event.  I wanted to take some time to reflect on stuttering and maybe even help others to reframe how they look at stuttering.  I also think that these ideas transcend stuttering and could be applied to other disabilities (especially psychiatric), sexual orientation, addiction, etc…


Stuttering as an iceberg comes from Joe Sheehan who developed it as a way to help people understand what is underneath stuttering.  Most people associate stuttering as only a speech disorder but underneath it, people who stutter (PWSs) might experience denial, fear, shame, anxiety, isolation, guilt, and hopelessness.  For a long time I thought the best approach to this was to make my iceberg small beneath the surface so that the feelings Sheehan discussed would be less significant in my life.  This didn’t feel right to me.  I don’t believe that you can take something away without replacing it with something more positive.  For example, take 12 step programs where addiction is addressed by replacing it with spirituality, acceptance, community, etc…


Although Sheehan’s stuttering iceberg is wonderful and fabulous and has helped me understand my own experience of stuttering, I always felt something was missing.  I have never seen an iceberg in real life but I imagine it looks different from different perspectives.  I felt the Sheehan’s iceberg needed a makeover.  It was important for me personally to look at the below the surface elements to see how I could reframe these things in my own life.  Here is what I came up with:

Denial —-Acceptance








My original plan was to methodically go through each of these and describe exactly what I meant by each one but either I am way too tired to do that or it feels unauthentic at this time.  What does resonate with me at the moment is how I sometimes feel pressured to full accept my stuttering at all times in all situations.  This pressure can be a formula to beat yourself up.  I am never able to live completely and utterly in my new and improved iceberg because every once and while my perspective will go back to the one I originally had with the shame, isolation, etc….


Someone told me the other day that because she had PTSD she had the responsibility to care for herself.  I think this goes for myself and others who stutter.  We need to accept responsibility for our stuttering.  Some would say that the responsibility is to achieve fluency; others might say it is to be an effective communicator.  I personally feel that it is our responsibility to make of our stuttering iceberg what we want.  Reframing the denial, fear, shame, anxiety, isolation, guilt and hopelessness into whatever if right for you.  I simply reframed Sheehan’s model based on my own experiences and observations.  I personally think it kicks ass and should be taught in every fluency class because it presents an alternative to the usual pathologizing models.  Plus I think real actions can come from acceptance, courage, pride, comfort, community, kindness and hope.  These might help to guide others, but I also think that people should create their own icebergs.  Perhaps it might help to draw your old iceberg, your current iceberg and the iceberg you would like to achieve.


If we are working from the alternative iceberg that I presented here, there are questions that might be helpful:

What does acceptance of my stuttering mean for me?  How will I know when I experience it? (Note, I did not use the word “achieve” because I feel this is a process that is never achieved because things will trip you up and that is ok)

How do you embody courage?  What kind of things do you do to practice courage?  This doesn’t have to be giving speeches in front of hundreds of people.  It can be posting about stuttering on Facebook, ordering from a drive through, or telling a joke at a party.

How will you express pride in your experience of stuttering and the stuttering community?

How will you become comfortable with speaking and how you think about stuttering?

How will you be kind to yourself and others?  We sometimes beat ourselves up because of our speech and I know that I verbally beat others up.  How can kindness and perhaps forgiveness be part of our experience of stuttering?

What do you hope to be with your stuttering (not in spite of it)?


Please feel free to post your thoughts on this topic.   I think it is important for us to see other icebergs to know how we might improve our own.

Reframing the Stuttering Iceberg

reframe stuttering

This is a concept that I developed years ago but since I didn’t have a blog and all that it remained somewhere deep in my computers memory (and then was lost).  The Stuttering Iceberg is something that is often talked about in our circles.  I think it is a great metaphor for for stuttering, because for many of us the act of stuttering is the least of our problems.  Stuttering is what you see and what you as the listener have to deal with.  Meanwhile there is a plethora of emotions, feelings, and behaviors that we engage that no one sees.  The Stuttering Iceberg helps to explain a lot of what we go through but I also think that there is room to expand on it.

You can look at something from multiple perspectives.  One part of the iceberg may look one way but then another perspective may bring a different perception of it.  I believe that stuttering can be reframed.  It is important for us to consider how to reframe our experiences in order to heal from the effects of stuttering.  Stuttering in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, it is its interaction in the environment that results in the bottom part of the iceberg.  My model displayed here proposes that the original iceberg can be altered so that we have a different experience of stuttering.

I will be writing more about this in future posts, but I just got a trial of Photoshop and I also wanted to show off my work.