Let's Talk: Self Advocacy for Back to School

October 1, 2023, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm (EDT)


The start of a new school year can be daunting for students at any educational level. A mix of excitement and anxiety surfaces as students prepare to face the unknowns. What will my teacher be like? Who will be in my class? What if I don’t like my new school? Will I have a good school year? There is an extra layer of preoccupation for students who stutter as they consider the ways in which stuttering will be perceived and received by new teachers and peers.

What are some helpful ways to introduce stuttering to new teachers and classmates? How does a student who stutters self-advocate in school? Do parents have a role? What are reasonable accommodations to request? How can teachers help students who stutter feel comfortable in class and be accepted by peers?

This session will feature a panel consisting of a high school student, a working professional, an elementary school teacher who stutters, and a parent who stutters and who is knowledgeable in student rights.Take this opportunity to learn from them, ask questions, share your experiences, and participate in helpful discussion.

The session is intended for students from all educational levels who stutter, for parents of students who stutter, for educators of students who stutter, and for speech-language pathologists who are welcome to share their approach with students in school, or who want to learn more from persons who stutter about what is helpful and what is not.

Meet our panel

Kim Block grew up thinking that she would never be able to attend university because of her stutter. That mindset changed after she  discovered an empowered community of persons who stutter. KIm earned a first degree in Human Relations at Concordia University (QC) over twenty years ago, and is presently completing a degree in Criminology at Simon Fraser University (BC). Kim has been an advocate within and for the stuttering community, leading presentations and workshops, participating in panels, facilitating adult and parent support groups. She was keynote speaker at the 2017 CSA Annual Conference in Toronto. Kim is also the author of the popular Stuttering Adventures series of books for children who stutter. For many years, Kim worked in the field of education where she is also an advocate. With a focus in human rights, Kim currently advocates and blogs for disabled children’s access to public education. Kim is fluent in American Sign Language and has worked with the deaf community for over twenty years.

Dylan Leany has stuttered since the age of 4. In his early years, Dylan felt that stuttering was a part of himself that he needed to hide at all costs because it caused him a great deal of embarrassment. Over the years, Dylan participated in several speech therapy groups that helped him work through how he felt about his stutter.  Today, Dylan is more open and comfortable with his stutter, and strives to make stuttering a positive part of his life through sharing his story and helping others. Dylan has been a high school math teacher for 6 years, an ice hockey official for 12 years. He and his wife are expecting the arrival of their first child in December!

Rhea Bhalla is a first-year student at the University of Manitoba. As a person who stutters, Rhea founded national and regional support groups with the Canadian Stuttering Association, leading three workshops at their 2022 national conference. Rhea is passionate about disability advocacy and hopes to support the stuttering community through volunteering.

Having spent many years as a student, Lani Roy has navigated the challenges inherent to university life as a person who stutters. She completed a Masters degree in 2020 and now works for Collège Communautaire du Nouveau Brunswick as a food scientist at their research lab in Grand Falls, NB. Whether in the classroom, research lab, or on horseback, she advocates for stuttering and seeks to demystify a topic that is often misunderstood.

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