The questions and answers of this FAQ were made and collected in the week leading up to International Stuttering Awareness Day 2020. The answers reflect the mindset of different persons all across the world. If you want to add to this FAQ, hit us up on firstname.lastname@example.org!
Q: How do you think people should react when you stutter?
A: Just like with anyone else. Let me finish, maintain eye contact, and ask if you don’t understand something. People should always feel free to ask what is happening, so they can focus on what I have to say instead of how I say it. It’s better to ask than to ignore.
It’s perfectly normal and fine to stutter. So it’s annoying to have people staring or giggling.
And, like with anything else, patience is a virtue. Stuttering is a way of speaking, much like an accent. So, it’s not always appreciated to have ‘treatments’ suggested to you.
Q: How does stuttering feel?
A: It feels like your lungs and vocal cords just decide to stop working halfway through the word you’re trying to say. It’s not exactly a pleasant feeling and I don’t think that’s addressed or considered often enough.It is hard to breathe and it can be an absolute nightmare sometimes. It’s like trying to hold water in your hand, which can change to ice and back in an instant.
It still feels like a struggle and like a mountain to climb physically. I sometimes have to force my body to overcome and climb over the stutter wall. And just when you have made it there’s another wall in sight.
Q: Would your life be different if you wouldn’t stutter?
A: I think it would be, as I might have tried different things and taken different paths, but there’s also so much that I wouldn’t have done if I didn’t stammer, so it goes both ways. Stuttering defines you as a person, so not stuttering would make me feel incomplete and maybe less committed to achieve my goals. It really goes both ways.
Q: What speaking situations do you find most difficult?
A: The classics, like introducing yourself, public speaking, ordering something at a store, loud environments, phone calls, … Every PWS has his/her own demons.
Dealing with retailers can be difficult. For example getting a shoe salesman to take you seriously can be no mean feat. Most salespeople are great and understanding of people who stutter. But some will start talking to the person standing behind you.
Q: How can non-PWS help with improving awareness and changing misconceptions?
A: Support stuttering organizations in their city/country and educate others when you hear them spreading negative stereotypes about PWS. This can be done by sharing resources (eg. Stamma and Employers Stammering Network) with HR-departments at work. Stammering is a variation of speech, not a ticket to victimhood.
It also helps to be empathetic. Put yourself in the PWS’s shoes.
And I would like to see non-PWS call out people who claim to cure stuttering.
Q: What are positive aspects of your stuttering?
A: The more you think about it, the more you can sum up! Here are some examples:
-It helps you to come out of your comfort zone
-Increased confidence since you constantly have to overcome hurdles
-PWS are better listeners
-Stuttering helps you focus on yourself. It also helps you to step back and consider others.
-All the amazing stuttering friends you make.
Q: How do you think that being part of a stuttering organisation, such as Stamily, can help you as a PWS?
A: Finding a community of people who stutter provides a place where you are understood and where you can share your problems with people who are in the same situation and share the same experiences, thoughts and feelings. It makes you feel a part of something.