Stuttering sometimes referred to as stammering or disfluent speech is a speech disorder where sounds or words are repeated or prolonged, disrupting the normal flow of speech. These speech disruptions may be accompanied by struggling behavior, such as rapid eye blinks or trembling of the lips.
Do you stutter? Or do you know someone who stutters? Stuttering makes it difficult to communicate, which often affects a person’s way of life. If, you don’t stutter then you have no idea how frustrating it is to try and say a word but can’t quite get it out in one piece. The words are actually there, but getting them out is a problem. Teasing someone who stutters therefore is not only insensitive but pretty silly too!
“I stutter really badly so when I can’t get the word out, I usually give up and rephrase what I was saying. Everyone I interact with just waits patiently for me, acting as if I was only pausing to organize my thoughts, which seems to work well for me,” says 17 year old Winnie Mahoro, a student of Martyr’s Secondary School.
If you have this problem or you know a relative, friend or school mate with this issue, there are some things you can do to help them out.
First of all never try to finish their sentences for them. If you do, this will reinforce the belief in the stutterer that they need your help during a conversation and that kills their self esteem.
You could try nodding in affirmation when they get stuck. This gives them positive support that you understand what they are trying to say, but are still respecting them enough to let them finish the sentence on their own. It may help get the word out faster.
Don’t interrupt a stutterer. Stuttering is extremely unpleasant and therefore much easier for the stutterer to just shut up than speak. So, make a positive contribution by respecting the ordeal this person is putting them through by trying to communicate with you.
So next time a stuttering person comes your way, don’t avoid them or be rude. Listen and speak in a relaxed manner. This will help reduce the pressure this person is experiencing. Listen attentively when they speak and wait for them to say the intended word.