Written by Anita
When you stutter, talking can be a challenge. With Corona, talking can be an Iron Man challenge!
When you stutter in class, you can hide by not raising your hand, sitting closer to the teacher or addressing her as she walks by, talking softly, etc. In an online class however, you’re completely out there. When you speak through an online class, your voice, your face, and all movements and noises that come with it, are out there in the open. Every stutter, every grimace, is on full screen and in everyone’s headset. If raising your hand in a class room is scary, raising your hand in a virtual class room is like being naked in a crowd, risking a student to totally shut down, not being able to show his knowledge, making a joke and being socially involved. Not to mention making a video call for a practice place or a job interview.
Wearing mouth protection forces you to speak louder for people to hear, and other people wearing mouth protection makes it hard to see their facial expression, which is crucial for many PWS.
When I moved to Sweden and learned the language, I could pretend I didn’t know words (on which I stuttered) and let my husband manage the phone. But after six months, when I had my diploma, I could no longer hide and I had to stutter in public. Once again I went from overt to covert, avoided people and speaking situations, and became a master at hiding. Luckily, and thanks to the support from the stuttering community, I gained the courage to talk about stuttering, which also opened up for others to ask me about stuttering, and together we found ways to have a conversation where both me and my listeners are confident and speak freely. And now I can’t stop talking.
A world with corona can not only contaminate people, but also silence them. Which is why it’s so important to spread information about stuttering, for a student and a teacher to talk about stuttering, what helps and what doesn’t, and finding ways to show the student knows his stuff, using alternative methods, meet outside the online classroom, and to make also the online classroom a safe space for all.