Coming up with good ideas for support group meetings can be a challenge. There are some good resources on the internet that provide ideas, including
About the presenters: The presenters for this paper consist of the spring 2005 undergraduate class in fluency and fluency disorders at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Class members were: Jessica Beck, Caitlin Buchkoski, Jenifer Burman, Chad Clower, Crystal Donner, Becky Haas, Kate Hainrich, Kris Hoppe, Emily Kruse, Kirsten Markiewicz, Jana Miller, Kelly O'Malley, Beth Miller, Evan Panitzke, Deric Peterson, Laura Riehle, Megan Riesgaard, Kelly Ritter, Jackie Schueller, Kimberly Scranton, Cassie Tegmeier, Katie Trefethren, Amy Ulwelling, Jessica Zendner, and Elizabeth Zika.
To add to the materials designed to help support groups around the world come up with good activities, students in the 2005 undergraduate class on fluency disorders, contacted chapter leaders from the National Stuttering Association in the United States as well as several support organizations in other countries, asking them to share ideas from some of their most interesting, successful meetings. They are shared below with gratitude to all who emailed activity ideas.
- Russ Hicks provided several meeting ideas in a former (2001) online conference paper, The Chicken and the Alligators - or - How to Facilitate a Support Group Meeting (www.mnsu.edu/comdis/isad4/papers/hicks2.html).
- Gary Rentschler has a nice list of Group Activities (www.home.duq.edu/~rentschler/STUTTERING/therapy_skills/act_group.htm)
- 101 Things to do at an NSA chapter meeting (www.nsastutter.org//search/dsp_results.php?tbl=subcategory&mixid=233)
San Jose, CA chapter from Howard Delman (Jessica Beck)
All of the participants were seated in a circle. One person started,
and made up a short sentence that included a word beginning with the
letter A (e.g. - I saw an airplane.). The person to the right had to
extend the sentence, using a word with the letter B (e.g. - I saw an
airplane, flying past a bird.). The next person continued with the
letter C (e.g. - I saw an airplane, flying past a bird, that was
carrying a worm.) Laughter ensues as the sentence gets ridiculously
long and convoluted. (e.g. - I saw an airplane, flying past a bird,
that was carrying a worm, which was dropped in the water, and eaten by a
duck, with flat feet, and a giant bill, which was hooked on a
clothesline, including the clothes, joined to the house...)
What makes this activity so great is that everyone gets to take part.
As the sentence gets longer people have to talk more, and above all, it
South Central Minnesota (http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/depthp/nsamankato.html) from Preston Smith (Judy Kuster)
Our group did a drama activity which included choosing words from three categories (people or occupations and emotions words were brainstormed by the group, and the leader of the activity provided vocabulary words). The following words were listed on the blackboard: occupations: pizza shop owner, senator, plumber, florist, bank examiner, grand-daughter; emotions: happy, nervous, excited, angry, confused, tired, scared; vocabulary words: pervade, adroit, motley, slovenly, epitomized. The activity leader brought various hats and a telephone as props. Members chose 1 character, 2 emotions and 3 vocabulary words. The "actor" had to work the vocabulary words into a pretend telephone call to the character chosen. Then each person was to play two different characters and do the same thing.
Tallahassee, FL from Mike Jedlicka (Caitlin Buchkowski)
One activity our stuttering support group did was to list two of our hardest to say words, and some experiences we've had with them (i.e. I stuttered really hard on it in front of a date, etc.). We wrote them on the board, and spoke of the anxiety felt when we needed to say one of our hard words, and what we can do about it. Some of the most common trouble words were people's names, places of work, street names, and the word stutter.
San Francisco chapter from Angus Croll (submitted by Nora O'Connor)
This URL leads to several scenarios that can be used for a chapter meeting. Run off the suggestions and cut them into separate pieces for each role. Support group members draw scenarios and role play the situation. For example: in scenario number one, one person will act out the part of the customer and the other will act out the part of the clerk.
Arizona State University Fluency Group - Catherine Bacon (Evan Panitzke)
Plano/North Dallas Chapter - Chris Roach (originally posted to NSACHAP@LISTSERV.TEMPLE.EDU 8/14/2003 and included below with permission of the author)
At one of our meetings, the nine in attendence incorporated the challenge of having to stand up and "give a presentation" or talk to a group. The subject was our individual stuttering journey. We utilized one flip chart, constructed a simple large grid of a timeline horizontally with "Birth" on the left, "Now" in the middle, and "Future" on the right. The vertical axis was labeled at the bottom as "Totally Bad", the upper end was labeled "Totally Good" and the middle was labeled "Neutral."
Then utilizing the same chart for all, each one stood up, took a marker and begin to tell their stuttering journey story by dotting to note critical events/points in their lives that caused their feelings of "good" or "bad" to move across the time line. Then after about a 10 minute discussion from each one, they drew a line to connect their dots.
IT WAS AMAZING!! We ended up with an explosion of 9 different colors and lines splattered on the same chart BUT we ended up with so many commonalities of our stories of how we journeyed through our stuttering. Everyone really got into it and became animated or captured by standing and telling their story. It wasn't a forced experience for anyone.
We reached some fascinating conclusions:
- When everyone's stuttering was first recalled in their youth, everyone had a non-negative reaction to it. It was either a neutral or slightly okay. Only when external experiences began to drive it to the negative did it became bad.
- Everyone had pendulums of highs and lows, going back and forth, in which a negative event caused them to go downward while a positive event or success turned them around, only to be reversed by an eventual negative event.
- Everyone hit bottom at some point of the worst time of their live relative to their stuttering.
- Everyone reacted to their bottom periods by recognizing they "needed to do something about it" and everyone pursued either therapy or found a support movement (NSA) and found their attitudes all began to move in a positive direction eventually.
- Everyone's "Now" assessment was positive or on the uptick AND nobody predicted anything in the future other than a positive up trend movement toward the Good range.
It was one of our better meetings in which we each were stimulated to think hard and reflect about our overall journey AND communicate that to a group of friends who cared to hear about it.
Dallas Chapter (http://www.geocities.com/dallasnsa/) - Dale Sander (Jennifer Burman)
Charles Van Riper once said, "Stuttering is everything you do trying not to stutter." I learned about the following voluntary stuttering exercise from Marty Jezer's workshop at a past NSA Conference. Standing, we introduced ourselves to each other. The goal was to stutter while we shook hands saying our name. After we had introduced ourselves to the first person, we moved down the line until we had introduced ourselves to everyone at the meeting, using voluntary stuttering in each introduction. After a second round of these introductions we had so much fun that most everyone started laughing. We then had a good discussion about the many uses of voluntary stuttering.
The meetings I find most fulfilling are when someone leads the group for their very first time. They choose their own topic. Several months ago we had a first timer lead us in a discussion about the many positive aspects of stuttering. We shared some of the many ways had we benefited from our stuttering, like becoming more caring and thoughtful individuals.
Chicagoland Northwest Support Group - Wood Dale, Il. - Larry Stack (Jana Miller)
One thing we like to do at our Suttering Support Group espescially when we have a bunch of new people or a group of students who frequent us occasionally is to break off in to groups of two, find out as much as you can about that person in a short time (5-10 min) and then introduce him or her to the group. It sets the mood of the meeting, usually very friendly, and gets everyone talking