Make Room For The Stuttering

Patience and Stuttering

Posted on: August 26, 2009

Every single one of us who stutters has a different experience and different perspective on our stuttering. But I think it is safe to say that we all agree that it can often feel like we live in an impatient world. Just the way we communicate is fast paced and hurried. Sometimes it seems that people really only go through the motions, that we don’t really listen well to each other. It is often a challenge to stay present and engaged with people when our minds are racing with so many things.

As a person who stutters, I know this well. I used to be very dis-engaged when speaking with someone, because I was so focused on rehearsing what I was going to say next or obsessing about which words I should use, to avoid stuttering. I like to think I don’t do this as much anymore.

I have become comfortable enough to do self-advertising of my stutter. Sometimes I will ask the listener to be patient, but usually I don’t have to do that. Just disclosing and “demonstrating” my stuttering is generally enough to lay the ground work for great communication to occur.

Bu this is not always the case. I visited good friend Jamie this weekend, and was able to get greater perspective from someone who stutters very differently than me. Jamie has long, sometimes very tense blocks. She shared with me that she sometimes has trouble contributing to conversations, as she finds it hard to “jump in.” She has talked about her stuttering and asked people to be patient with her. The saying that “patience is a virtue” is very true when applied to engaging with people who stutter.

Anyway, a special moment occurred when Jamie and I went out to a local ice cream joint. I had brought my camcorder (of course) and we recorded my observation of Jamie’s interaction with a young person who took her order at the ice cream stand. Definitely gave me pause to think. About patience, and saying thank you, and those teachable moments.

So take a look! This is not the best quality video – as we recorded outside at night, but it lends authenticity to the moment. And I myself was stuttering particularly WELL. Which goes to show my own increased comfort with my own overt, evolving stuttering.

What do you think about patience? Do you even think about it?

9 Responses to "Patience and Stuttering"

That is truely amazing to hear how patient the person was with Jamie, and that she kept eye contact the whole time. If only we could come across more people that are that patient.

I commend Jamie for thanking the person. That took a lot of courage to do that. I think that was a great idea.

You were great!! Now you need to come back so we can shoot in the day time!

For a while I avoided eye contact with people when I am talking to them becasue I did not want to see any signs of impatience or weird looks because I was blocking too tensely.

I then realized that this way of communciation did nothing for neither myself or my listener and so I quickly cut it out. Occasionally now I will look away when I feel my stuttering coming on.

As for patience, I just think everyone is impatient with me when I am talking, onlythis is not always the case, It is all in my head.

I guess I am the one who is impatient with me.

Great work as usual Pam.

That’s what I’m saying; Jamie is a very cool and wonderful person that I would love to meet sometime. So great that the girl showed patience like that, and was rewarded for it. =) Well done all of you!

Patience is something not all people seem to be equipped with, even though we all should be. I think about patience a lot. I kind of need to in my line of work. To me patience is normal courtesy and a respect we all should give others and expect to be given. It’s as simple as that.

Thanks Anupam! I find that simple is often the best way to go. If you make things more complicated than they need to be it doesn’t help anyone.
I have to agree with you on the common sense part though. I am amazed at how little the kids seem to know about that…

I have been thinking about patience recently, but in a slightly different way…

I tell you one thing that happened to me just the other day. I was driving to work and began to create some scenarios of me stammering later on in the day.

I’ve been a doing a lot of work at not paying attention to unhelpful thinking about stammering.

Anyway, this time I got caught up in my thoughts, and became a bit frustrated with myself, for becoming afraid.

But I just let it pass, by telling myself to be patient. So I have been thinking about patience recently, but by being patient with myself and not expecting anything too soon.


I agree with you – we need to be patient with ourselves and gentle with oursleves. I sometimes forget that, when I find myself really frustrated with a stuttering moment.

I sometimes forget to practice what I preach. Thanks for the reminder.


Yes, it would have been ideal to record the moment. But there were people in line behind us, including kids. We would have had to ask permission, and if a kid got caught in the shot, parents may not have wanted them on internet.

So yes, disappointing, but a patient judgement call.

That was great, Pam. You and Jamie are definitely stuttering rockstars. Two big reactions from me: First, sadness that Jaime felt the need to thank the person, because I wish everyone was patient like that. Second, I felt proud of Jaime for saying thank you, and reinforcing that individual’s patience… very good stuff… I love that you videotaped it right after the fact! Keep on rockin.

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