Make Room For The Stuttering

Faking It

Posted on: November 27, 2009

A few of the blogs I follow and the stuttering community on Face book recently mentioned the episode of “Glee” about a character who stutters. It is a new TV show that started this season about a high school glee club. The members of the glee club are so different, its amazing that collectively they are able to produce beautiful harmony and music together. But that is what makes diversity so important, right?

I tuned in to the series midway, and watched the episode where the character who stuttered revealed that she had actually been faking it for several years so that she could get out of having to do an oral presentation in class. I never expected that. (Of course, having missed the previous episodes, I had no idea what build up, if any, had been given to the stuttering story line). The character in the wheelchair obviously never expected either that she would reveal that she had pretended to stutter. He had thought they were kindred spirits, both sharing a difference. It gave them something special in common, he thought.

I thought about this issue of faking it. I didn’t like that stuttering was portrayed this way in the show. I would have preferred that she really stuttered, so that we could have a popular television show include a positive portrayal of stuttering. I watched the show this week, and heard the character sing. She was remarkable, and it would have been great to have that story line play out, as many people who stutter can sing beautifully without stuttering. Interestingly, no mention was made at all about her having revealed her fake stuttering.

This character obviously used voluntary stuttering to make it seem she really stuttered. Hers was very mild. I have used voluntary stuttering to advertise my stuttering, and as a desensitization tool. So, this is another way to use voluntary stuttering.

As I reflected more on “faking it”, I realized that I was doing the exact same thing for many years with my covert stuttering. I was trying to fake being fluent, so that I could pass myself off as something I was not. Even now, I still find myself faking it sometimes. Meaning that in some situations, I will not disclose that I stutter. Especially if I am having a very fluent day, or more importantly, it is a situation where I feel I will be judged negatively if I let the “stuttering me” out. Wait a minute! Is that the same thing? Is that faking it, or is it just me managing my stuttering so I will be comfortable in certain situations?

What do you think? Have you ever heard of anyone faking a stutter to get out of doing an oral presentation? How does that make you feel, if you really do stutter?”

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7 Responses to "Faking It"

I don’t think it was a great way to portray stuttering. However, I don’t think trying to improve fluency is being something you are not unless you are hiding your true stuttering from yourself. I think that once you really accept from within who you are it doesn’t matter if you are fluent or not. It matters what you want to say and how much you enjoy talking in general. There came a point where I stopped defining an evening or event as how I stuttered. For ex: Last night I was quieter than usual. It wasn’t because of fear of stuttering, it was because I was tired from the long ride and I accepted that as ok.
Anyway, I think glee should have provided some education about stuttering. However, I like how they portray the teen in the wheelchair. Interesting topic.

Hey Lori, yep, the program could have really chose to do some real education here, and they didn’t, which is too bad.

Its funny how I immediately related the character’s faking stuttering with my own concept of faking fluency!!

It never occurred to me that someone would stutter on purpose. Us PWS (covert or overt) would try to hide our stuttering the best we could.Personally, I did not like how Tina was faking her stuttering. It made me feel like it gave the public the impression that I cannot stutter if I try hard enough. Also, since she faked her stuttering doesn’t that mean that Tina thinks stuttering is bad, shameful ect? This does not help to educate the public properly about stuttering. I feel like Glee is giving the public the wrong impression about stuttering and what it’s like to be a PWS. I am disappointed that Tina no longer stutters because frankly, that was the reason that I watched the show. This TV show could have been someone’s first experience seeing stuttering, and I’m saddened that they were sorely misinformed.

I agree with you Sarah, that’s why I tuned in as well. I saw someone comment about it on face book, and watched for just that reason. They missed the boat big time. And I did watch it this week, and liked it, but was surprised that the stuttering was not mentioned again at all.

And yeah, her portrayal showed more shame and what is wrong with stuttering than the positive light it could have shone on the topic.

I don’t like to see or hear anything where it seems if we only tried harder, we would be more successful, more fluent . . . .

Hi Pam,
I wasn’t even aware there was a character with a stutter on Glee (it’s not a show I watch). I watched the episode online after reading your post.

I found that the actress didn’t even do a good job of portraying a stutter, granted one episode isn’t really much of a sample. You’re so right that they had a chance to really educate the public, I think they dropped the ball. It’s odd how they did such a good job with the kid in the wheelchair and such a terrible job with the stutter. Maybe it’s just another reflection of society’s willingness to dismiss communication problems as funny.

I think it’s a bit far fetched that the girl was successful enough with the act that it was worth keeping it up. I believe she would try it once but I doubt she would get away with it. I never got out of anything because of my stuttering.

Great blog! Keep it up!

Thanks Heather for reading and the feedback. Me either, I never got out of doing anything because of stuttering, but then again, I was very good at hiding it.
And from the one episode, it was hard to tell that she even stuttered. It was very mild, and hard to even catch unless she actually told him she was faking!
The show could have done so much more with it than they chose – so your right, another lame attempt to dismiss communication issues as less significant than other stuff.

Hi Pam ,
Wow ,i know its just a programme but i can’t believe someone would pretend ,just to get out of something …however i suppose not much different to faking a coughing fit to get out of oral presentations cos of the fear of stutteriing at school …so heh maybe same really !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Great blog as always
lisa xx

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