Stuttering to Fluency

by SpeechImperfect

How difficult is it to talk to someone who stutters? With this article I hope to help fluent people understand what to do, what not to do and how to approach the situation.

When I was four years old I started stuttering. No-one knows why. Not even me. I have theories as do other people. I had a major operation on my eye when I was four. I also started school. Maybe these factors all came together and caused my speech I am thinking in my head to have trouble coming out of my mouth. Who knows. Whatever reason it was it has stayed with me ever since. There are times I have hated myself, felt embarrassed not just for myself but for other people. Anger also, mainly from the frustration of not being able to be spontaneous when required.
Certainly saying my name has always been hard. How many times have you been asked your name in your lifetime? Imagine dreading that moment. Imagine trying to think of a way of saying your name properly. Maybe changing it? I considered that too at one point! Speech is such an integral part of being human being hindered by it is possibly one of the most demoralising things you can face. I am going to blog today on how to deal with other people who have a stutter. Before, during and after!

Look around you. If you are in a public place chances are people are not speaking. Or you can't hear them. Any of these people may have a stutter. But you wouldn't know. Unless you are painfully shy speaking to people is relatively easy. It is what us as human beings do. Our communication is so important ever since you cried for milk and to have your bum changed.

Obviously I can’t approach this as a fluent person but I know and met enough people to know what is right, wrong and darn right offensive. So now we don't know the person stutters. How soon would you find out? It might be obvious, facial tics, going red. But this isn’t universal. They may be no indication until the second sentence. Once you know how do you react. Eye contact is essential so we are told. Its easy to look away. Just like when someone has a disfigurement we are told not to stare. But someone is stuttering and struggling, making all sorts of faces at you and you have to maintain eye-contact?

Well think about your everyday speech, do you keep eye contact with every one you speak to at all times? Of course you don’t. And staring at someone makes you look weird to be honest. Keep it natural. Do you finish their words off? This is a minefield. A lot of stutters hate it, if it is obvious what word I am struggling on in the context of the conversation then I don't mind. Be patient! This is a must. You don't hurry fluent people so why become impatient with stutterers? If you think about it because a person who stutters is forever thinking what comes out of his mouth is usually thought through. So you will probably get a more coherent answer. Maybe?! I am sure stutterers can be wafflers too, but that is for another blog.


Now after. Phew, everything is fine. The world didn't explode – you are both breathing and hopefully communication wasn't that hard. Remember it was just as hard for them as it was for you. Even harder in fact. Keep a look out for other blogs I may post on stuttering.

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Do you know someone who stutters

Updated: 10/17/2014, SpeechImperfect
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