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International Stuttering Awareness Day 2022

12 questions to understand the person who stutters

The International Stuttering Awareness Day reinforces the need to reflect on the experience of the person who stutters, taking into account that the stutterer is often impacted by the attitudes and reactions of communicative partners in particular and by society in general.

The iStutter Center team follows hundreds of adults and children who stutter, which has allowed them to understand and reflect about the factors that influence the experience of the stutterer throughout life. It is in this context that the iStutter Center considers it essential to carry out actions with families, schools and the community in general.

Being properly informed about what stuttering is, its characteristics and the myths associated with it becomes crucial for interlocutors to react appropriately when interacting with people who stutter.

This year, to mark this date, the iStutter Center created the poster entitled 12 QUESTIONS TO UNDERSTAND PEOPLE WHO STUTTER with the aim of leading the general population to reflect on the reactions and attitudes that many people who stutter deal with in their daily lives.

We hope that these questions have allowed you to reflect on how you react or would react in an interaction with a person who stutters. And now you can read here what the people we accompany at iStutter Center- with whom we make a point of developing these initiatives – feel when faced with these situations.

 

What do you feel when you stutter and are asked to be calm? 

Honestly, I feel very irritated because people don’t realize that what they are saying only makes it worse.

Manuel, 14 years old

 

 It depends on the moment, but I usually get more stressed, and instead of being calm, I get a little more nervous. Especially when it’s with new people that I don’t know.

Vasco, 15 years old 

 

I don’t like it, because it offends me.

Joaquim, 9 years old 

 

 It’s nothing to do with being calm. I can be very calm and still stutter. So, saying that is super uncomfortable.

Inês, 15 years old 

 

 I would be furious! I feel like people want me to hurry up and be faster and I need my own time.

Francisco, 9 years old 

 

What do you feel when you stutter and people judge you for it?

I feel wronged, because I am more than my stutter, and it is very frustrating. It’s unpleasant to feel that people assume characteristics about me just because of the way I speak. Nowadays I am more comfortable with these situations thanks to the work I have done in therapy. 

Ana, 42 years old  

 

 What do you feel when you stutter and are asked to control something that is involuntary? 

I feel that the problem is not in the stuttering, it’s in me. I can’t be controlling the stuttering and they don’t realize that I can’t control it and then I get nervous. 

T., age 10

 

I hate it when they tell me to take it easy when I have froggies. 

A., age 6

 

 I feel like yelling at the person, I have no patience for that conversation.

F., age 9

 

What do you feel when you stutter and they are surprised by your speech? 

Whenever I notice that someone is surprised by my stuttering I try my best to be comfortable with it, not to care about the person’s reaction. Ideally, if I am comfortable with it, I might tell the person that I stutter, it is normal for me to stutter, and briefly explain what stuttering is. This is all what I try to do after several consultations with speech and language therapy and psychology. Before that, it was something I hid as much as possible, I cared about the reactions the person showed, even if it might not be to my speech. As a result, I avoided stuttering as much as possible and found myself reducing my social contacts.

Nelson, 21 years old

 

What do you feel when you stutter and someone looks away?

When I stutter and someone looks away I feel that they can no longer hear me because the focus shifts from what I am saying to how I am saying it. No matter how much I try to rationalize it, I always feel some discomfort in these situations. 

Guilherme, 37 years old

 

 

 

How would you feel if you were laughed at when you stuttered?

It has never happened to me, but I wouldn’t like it because they wouldn’t be respecting me. Sometimes it is hard to say some things, but they should not laugh at me and my stuttering.   

Manuel, 8 years old

 

How would you feel if someone imitated your speech?

I would feel sad and I wouldn’t like that person anymore because the person had made me feel bad. If the person did that in front of a lot of people, I would feel humiliated that that person was imitating who I am. I don’t think it’s fair to make fun of me for the way I talk and for speaking a little differently than other people.

Francisca, 12 Years Old

 

How would you feel if jokes were made about your stuttering?

It depends on the situation and the context that I am inserted in at the moment, but generally I feel as if I were the “court jester”, I feel a lot of frustration, a lot of sadness, before when I was younger I even used to feel inferior to other people, I feel as if the people that make those jokes only see me for my stuttering and don’t see the person behind the stuttering, yes because who has stuttering is also a person! We are much more than stuttering!

Ana Luísa, 25 years old

 

What do you feel when you stutter and people try to guess what you are saying?

Two mixed emotions: One is that I feel embarrassed, but also happy that the other person is paying attention to what I’m saying. I also feel upset that they are interrupting me.

Rodrigo, 13 years old

 

I don’t like it, because they are interrupting me and when they interrupt me I stutter more.

David, 8 years old

 

What do you feel when you are worried about the reaction of others to your speech?

For me it is a matter of preventing me or demotivating me, it creates a certain block to speak in a certain situation: (previously) I avoided speaking, expressing myself, exposing myself, and I ended up speaking less… (the stuttering) was like something that could be used against me.

Mário, 31 years old

 

What I felt most from all this was to feel limited; I thought I had that ceiling, that I couldn’t go beyond that because I believed I wasn’t going to have effective communication; I would say something I didn’t want to say and what I wanted to say I ended up not saying. The biggest feeling was one of limitation. And that frustrated me, because I wanted to do and be so many things and communication limited me.

Hilario, 30 years old

 

 

How do you feel when you are stuttering and they finish your words or sentences for you?  

Bad, because I feel sad when they don’t let me speak, or when a friend doesn’t listen to me.                                           Gaspar, 6 years old

           

Badly, because… a little bit angry, because they finish what I’m going to say.

Bautista, 10 years old

 

I would be offended, it’s one thing for them to make me identify that I’m stuck, but it’s another thing to say the word I’m going to say. I think it’s a lack of respect.

Camilo, 14 years old

 

How do you feel when people assume that you are an anxious person because you stutter?

I feel misunderstood, because by nature I am not anxious al all.

Diogo, 26 years old

 

I would feel frustrated because I’m not getting my inner state across correctly and because they are assuming things about me that may not correspond to reality. On the other hand, I understand that, given the stereotype of “non-stutterers” stuttering in situations of nervousness and tension, to generalize that principle to people who stutter.

André, 18 years old

 

I feel misunderstood and I would like to feel at ease to express myself calmly, no matter how long it takes me to say what I want.

Nuno, 25 years old