Make Room For The Stuttering

“You Have An Unusual Stutter”

Posted on: April 8, 2010

Sheila made this comment to me while we comfortably sat in her kitchen drinking tea. As mentioned in Sheila’s post yesterday, this was all so surreal. Drinking tea in someone’s kitchen in England, over 3000 miles away from my home and we were chatting about stuttering like we had known each other our whole lives.

Anyway, I was most perplexed when Sheila mentioned that my stutter is unusual. I wanted her to elaborate more, of course. I wondered, “Did she think I sound awful? Was I unpleasant to listen to?” Why do we always assume the worst? Do these things go through everyone’s mind – those of us who stutter? It seems I am constantly trying to read someone’s mind. What an incredible waste of time and energy, as I clearly am not a mind-reader.

Anyway, when I pressed Sheila to explain, she said, “Yes, Pam, you have an unusual stutter. You make and keep eye contact and smile when you stutter. That is unusual.”

It felt good when Sheila shared that with me. A person I had just met – who is also a woman who stutters – felt comfortable enough to share that with me.

That made an impression, obviously, as I am writing about it. Reminds me of the time someone told me my stutter is attractive.

Is it that unusual for people who stutter to make eye contact and actually smile while stuttering? Hmmm, I hope not. Let’s strive to make that the norm, OK?

3 Responses to "“You Have An Unusual Stutter”"

I think that is really cool that she shared that with you. Yes, I would say that a lot of PWS don’t make good eye contact. Personally, I would look down on the floor everytime I would block, but my eye contact has improved a lot. Even now it a bit akward because I can be a hard block (depending on who I am talking to). From what you wrote it doesn’t sound like you have any blocks and your pattern is more relaxed with easy repetitions. As far as smiling I don’t know I could do that while stuttering because right now, my pattern is a good bit of struggle.

When I block, I do not have eye contact either, and this makes me so uncomfortable because I know it must be uncomfortable for my listener too, because eye contact is very important for an engaging conversation.

Dont know about the smile though, that can be tricky.

Congrats with your unusual stutter Pam. I am striving to be unusual myself, but its hard.

Maintaining eye contact during blocks is great – I think it helps reduce tension, for both the speaker and the listener. Like most things, it gets easier with practice. I’m happy to read about your “unusual stutter” and your positive outlook.

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