8 Things That People Who Stutter Wish Everyone Knew About Stuttering (But Most People Don’t)

8 Things That People Who Stutter Wish Everyone Knew About Stuttering (But Most People Don’t)

Eight things about stuttering

  1. It’s not nerves. Everyone can stutter a bit when nervous, but people who have a real stuttering problem also stutter during calm conversations. The effort to get words out makes the speaker feel anxiety and the staccato nature of speech sometimes gives a false impression that the speaker is nervous, but that doesn’t mean that people who stutter are nervous people.
  2. It’s neurological, not psychological. Sometimes people think that the fact that the speech production problem stems from the brain means it’s psychological. That’s like saying that epilepsy is a psychological problem. It may be all in the brain, but it’s not all in the mind!
  3. It’s not a choice. People who stutter usually wish with all their hearts that they could speak fluently. That’s why they try so hard to talk. The problem is that fearing certain consonants, substituting words and trying to be fluent makes it even harder to talk fluently.
  4. “Slow down” and “Take a deep breath” are not helpful suggestions. If that’s all it took, no one would have stuttering blocks. For people who have a real stuttering problem, these techniques don’t help. In fact, they could even increase the severity of stuttering. Don’t feel badly, though, your intent is good. It’s not your fault that these suggestions have been popular, though not helpful, for hundreds of years.
  5. Don’t finish sentences! It seems like you’re helping, but it really means that getting to the end of the sentence is more important than listening to the person who is speaking. If you don’t like people finishing your sentences, realize that neither do people who stutter. Miss Manners explains this very clearly:“GENTLE READER: How can you assist someone in completing his or her statement unless you already know what that person was intending to say? And if you already know what is going to be said, why bother holding a conversation? So yes, it is considered rude to finish other people’s sentences. And Miss Manners wants it to be clear that this applies not only to stutterers, but to spouses as well.”
  6. Telephones are scary. In real life, people understand when we’re trying to talk, even if no sound comes out. Answering the phone is much more complicated, because sometimes, no speech comes out and the person on the other end of the line doesn’t understand what’s happening. When someone says “Hello? Hello? Hello?” it often raises the tension and puts more pressure on the person who stutters to try hard to get a sound out.
  7. Just because we don’t repeat our sounds doesn’t mean we don’t have a stutter. Some people who stutter have covert stuttering. It means that usually they’re able to keep their stutter under wraps. Most of the time, speech seems fluent, but inside the person is struggling. Trying to hide stuttering makes it really hard to talk.
  8. Talk to us, please. Have you ever been out with a friend and had someone talk only to your friend, even when they wanted to know about you? It happens to people who stutter all the time. Don’t do it! A difficulty in speech production doesn’t render people who stutter incapable of understanding you! If you have a question for a person who stutters, just ask them, not whoever they’re with. Give them time to answer. They’ll appreciate it more than you realize!