Today is Stuttering Awareness Day 2020, and we want to share the experience of James our amazing Student Communications placement student. Let us know if you have had a similar experience! We would love to hear from you.
Stuttering has played a very large role in my life and is one of the main cornerstones and driving forces behind where I see my career and indeed my future going forward. Despite accepting having a stutter, plus the difficulties it can bring to general day-to-day life, there are still times when my stutter can be a real burden to me and the people I talk too.
I fully understand that when talking to somebody with a stutter, it can be frustrating when they start to stutter. I can relate to why people see it as an annoyance in the conversation but my view, as someone with a stutter, is that it is so much worse for us on the other end. That is what we are going to be looking at in today’s blog.
Picture this, you have a whole story planned out in your head, you know exactly how you are going to say it, what you think the reaction to it is going to be and so on, but when you actually start speaking, for whatever reason, the words simply fail you and you cannot speak. No matter how hard or long you try, you are just left there stuttering, in an infinite loop of repetition.
Even though it may appear as frustrating from your perspective, the person stuttering feels angry and upset even that the sheer reality of the matter is that they just cannot get the words, which they really want to say, out. Even doing something as simple as telling a joke can be made that much harder and can seem impossible, due to something as damaging as a stutter.
I have had it time and time again when I am sitting in an interview, or even talking with friends, where I am talking fine for a long time and then I just get stuck on one word. What I will highly encourage is to please be patient. The person with the stutter will usually have a way to fix it, it may just take them a bit of time to do so.
One thing that you should never do is try and finish their sentences for them. For people with a stutter, it can be hard to feel as it we have a voice at times, as we are used to being the listeners of a group, as people feel like we do not want to talk, when it is the exact thing we want.
If you do finish somebody’s sentence, who has a stutter, they feel as if they do not have a voice. Having a voice, gives us feeling, a purpose, if you finish their sentence for them, even doing so with the best possible intentions, can feel like you are stripping that voice away.
Patience can be a real key part of the conversation for people who stammer/stutter. Whether it is patience with themselves, or the hope they have for others when speaking to them. Do not make a stutterer feel as if they have no voice, when words fail them already.
To find out more on Stuttering or Stammering visit the NHS pages.
Stamma (The British Stammering Association) has more information and support for people who stammer. You can call the helpline on 0808 802 0002 from Monday to Friday 10am to midday and 6pm to 8pm to find out about the services available.