Make Room For The Stuttering

Did I Stutter?

Posted on: April 6, 2012

I have been attending a lot of Toastmasters meetings lately. As part of my role as Area Governor, I visit each of the clubs in my area at least twice a year, as monitoring visits. This means offering support and guidance so club leaders can make their clubs the very best they can.

I have tried to visit each of my clubs more than the minimum required. That’s the best way to lend support and see what the pulse of the club really is.

Last week, I visited a corporate noon time club. Corporate clubs in Toastmasters are unique in that they are only open to employees of the sponsor organization. Many companies pay part of member dues, and let them conduct (and attend) meetings during the work day, usually lunch time.

This meeting was to have two planned speakers. The first person was planning to do a Powerpoint presentation and was trying to get it ready before the meeting actually commenced. The technology wasn’t cooperating and she was unable to get her images to project on the screen.

After several attempts, finally something appeared on the screen. But it wasn’t what she was expecting. The screen was flashing very fast and the images were jumping all across the screen. She was getting frustrated, and finally someone else came up and tried to help her.

He did something and the screen continued freezing up and jumping back and forth, all staggered and unclear. Someone from the audience found this particularly funny and yelled out, “Did I stutter?” and laughed out loud, poking the guy next to him, getting him to laugh too.

I was sitting across from these two guys and felt my face flush and my chest and shoulders tensed up. I did not like what I had just heard. It was just an innocent, ignorant comment, using the phrase “stutter” to denote something negative, to be laughed at.

I didn’t say anything, as I didn’t want to draw attention to myself nor embarrass this guy.

What would you have done?

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4 Responses to "Did I Stutter?"

I had a similar reaction when this thing started spreading across Facebook:

To me that really bothered me because it appeared as if it were saying, we’re supposed to love and accept everyone…but stuttering is still okay to belittle. A couple of my friends posted it on their FB and I mentioned it to them…and they all immediately felt like idiots for being so insensitive, but I just think it’s something people don’t think about.

When I wrote that piece for the Times Union about The King’s Speech there was a line in my article about how communication disorders are as difficult to suffer from as they are easy for others to mock. And that seems to still be the case.

Oh, wow, I had not seen this! Yes, this is over the top, very offensive, but I imagine many people found it really funny.
It does indeed seem like communication disorders are still fair game for anyone to mock.
The guy who “guffawed” at his comment “did I stutter?” was laughing so hard, his face was all red.
Not sure what it will take to change this – all we can do is educate one person at a time!

IDK what I would have done… probably the same. That’s a tough situation.

I dislike this expression as well, b/c it implies that stuttering is synonymous with unclear communication. I want to believe that we can still be excellent communicators – it’s just not what most people are used to. I guess it’s up to us to prove them wrong! :)

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2014.
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