Make Room For The Stuttering

My Brother’s Question

Posted on: August 28, 2010

I have written a few times that I really only comfortably discuss stuttering with one sibling regularly. Most of my family doesn’t like talking about it, even though I do. Kim and I talk about stuttering often. She works as a nurse and feels my openness about my stuttering has helped her be more patient with some of her patients.

I did talk about stuttering twice with another sister, who was willing to do an audio conversation with me once. But that’s it.  With most of my family, it’s the same taboo it pretty much always was. Unless I bring it up.

So I was surprised when my brother called me last night. He needed a favor and also wanted some advice about stuttering for a co-worker.

A new employee works in the warehouse and in my brother’s words, has a “wicked stutter”.  He wanted to know if I had any brochures or literature on anything that has helped me that he could leave “subliminally” around. I said sure, I could give him stuff or send him some links with resources.

I had to laugh when I got off the phone with my brother. His use of the word “subliminally” tickled me. I can just see this poor guy who stutters, minding his own business in the warehouse, and suddenly he stumbles on some information about stuttering. Which would be really out-of-place in the warehouse environment.

I was glad my brother felt comfortable enough asking me about this. He never has initiated conversation about stuttering with me. But I also had a few other thoughts.

It made me wonder, how will this guy feel? Will he be embarrassed? Will he think colleagues are embarrassed by his stutter, that’s why someone left stuttering information lying around? Or will he be happy to come across something that might help him? Will he be grateful that it was done anonymously? Will he take the information or ignore it?

It made me wonder, how would I feel? What about you? Would you be OK if you found something on stuttering suddenly and randomly in your workplace?

15 Responses to "My Brother’s Question"

Hi Pam this is a hard question. I am not sure how I would take it. I think It would be better if your brother just talk to the guy if he is comfortable about talking with him. The way it sound your brother is not sure how to deal with his coworker. I hope he is patient and does not speak for the guy. I like his expression “Wicked stutter” great way of putting it. Iwish him luck. And it’s great he could ask you

Hi Pam, I know your bro’s heart is in the right place with that though….but, personally, I wouldn’t like it if I found the info. The biggest issue for me is that I wouldn’t know why it was left…are they ashamed to have me in their midst?……are they annoyed by me and just want me fixed?….or are they genuinely concerned for my well being (as in your bro’s case)….when you don’t know the answer many of us let our minds wander to the more negative possibilities. Also, the person may be accepting of his stutter and not want help….he may feel angry that someone felt he was broken when he felt otherwise. bottom line for me is that there are too many possible negative reactions and outcomes to take a chance that the literature would be welcomed. Better to continue working to make info on stuttering ever more available when someone is interested in seeking it out themselves…..this is happening of course and is thankfully being accelerated by the many great organizations (and individuals like yourself) out there these days. Just my 2 cents:)

I like your reply Karen. If Pam’s brother doesn’t feel comfortable in talking to the guy about it he should just let it be. If I had found literature like that lying around I would have been mortified.

This person should be left the choice to deal with his stuttering in the work place how he wants. Your brothers intentions are good, but it isnt his decision to make.– this guy just wants to work, not become a spectacle.

The best impacting poem I’ve ever read or come across regarding a non- stuttering siblings feelings/views of talking about stuttering or the stuttering experience is entitled “The Stutterer” by Ken Olson, written in rememberance of his brother Bill.

Brings torrents of Human Rain to my eyes whenever I read it.

I will have to find it and read it. Wow!

I wouldn’t like it. I would much rather someone talk to me than just leave random brochures aroound for me to “find.”

Well, thanks for these replies.
That’s why I wrote this-because I had mixed feelings. Everyone views this differently. I would have to agree with most here.
If I had found something random in my workplace, with my fragile covertness still in full bloom and lots of denial, I too would have been mortified. Even now, with lots of acceptance and more confidence than I have ever had in my life, I still would feel someone was intruding in a place I might now want them.
So, if my brother asks for anything, I will suck up my courage to talk with him about it and let him know I don’t feel its a good idea.
If he asks why, I will tell him how I would feel.
That its really not his place to suggest anything, but if the guy initiates any conversation about his stuttering, my brother could certainly let him know he has a sister who knows a thing or two about stuttering.
Again, thanks all. I think this is a good topic. I bet it happens.

As for myself, I wouldn’t feel comfortable finding a stuttering brochure, knowing someone (who?) put it there… I think your brother should come up to this guy, maybe over lunch or a cofee-break, and tell him: “You know, I have a great sister, and she is dealing with the same problems… So I know a bit about it. Have you ever thought of trying some therapy? If you’d like, I’ll give you some links?” or something like that.

I don’t think I would find comfortable to find a stuttering brochure either. However, this is probably very much related to the fact that I am (and seek to be) covert at work. If I found something, I would immediately start wondering where I went wrong, etc… So I might miss the good intent.
I reckon that there might be other people who actually are only waiting for someone to speak about their stutter. I have come accross a few on the web. So who knows. Only, there’s no way to tell in advance, that’s sort of the principle of uncertainty of stuttering….

I have a couple of questions, first of all did this guy ask your brother toi get him information because you just said “For a co-worker” so I was a little confused. If your brother just took this on all by himself because he sees that this guy stutters I would be a little upset about it, because how do he know of this guy already knows about stuttering or has indeed in fact been exposed to tools or using resources like therapy already. just because he stutters openly doens’t mean he isn’t aware of it or isn’t doing anthing to better himself. I would be taken a back by the literature because it would make it feel like stuttering is this HUGE deal and this big poblem that needs to be fixed and by giving him the resources it will be and it’s just not that wasy. I would recommend actually talking to the guy if he wanted to not just leave this around for him to get making it feel like it’s a big embrassing problem that makes it worse.

Bethany Laranjo

My brother didn’t give much detail – just out of the blue he asked me this. Which was a bit of a shock, because as I said, he has NEVER initiated conversation about stuttering. All he said was that there was a new guy in the warehouse . . . . and asked me for some information. I have not talked to him again since. If he brings it up again, I will suggest he either talk to the guy or just not do anything unless the guy specifically asks for resources, which I don’t know how that would come up, unless my brother talks to people about his fabulous sister who stutters,and somehow I doubt that!
~ Pam

What about, “I think he’d feel singled out if he found stuttering literature left out, but what you can do is…” and discuss the usual stuff: Pay attention, don’t finish their sentences (unless they want you to), give them time, respect them, let them be covert or overt or a mix as they choose. You know the list better than I do.

Eventually he might mention some of the groups his great sister is in and that she’s got this podcast and blog. He can find the rest of the literature from there.

Is it possible that his “friend” is actually himself?

Do you mean that maybe my brother stutters and has been hiding it all this time? I don’t think so . . . . me being a stutterer I am pretty astute and can usually pick up when someone else stutters, even covertly, I can recognize the things I did.
Interestingly, in my family, we just found out that my mom’s sister (who left the family many years ago and stayed away intentionally) had a child, who has spent years trying to find his birth mom and other family. He located my mom, and has talked to one of my sisters. He stutters! He claims it is scarcely noticeable anymore, but when he is tired or stressed, it “pops out”.
I was blown away to learn of that. I always thought, why me?, there has been no family history, and now years later, I/we learn of this. I have not talked to or met him yet, but might this Fall.
Very interesting for me to learn of this. But as far as my brother goes, I really don’t think so, but it certainly is possible, since I was a master covert for years.

Okay, if someone left stuttering material around as a subliminal message for me, I would be FURIOUS. Especially if it was about speech therapy, because hello, if you have a problem with how I speak you can bloody well tell me to my face!

Not that I wouldn’t be pissed as hell if some random fluent person started telling me to go to speech therapy, too! Which is also… I think it’s important to figure out what your brother’s motivation is. Does he think the person hasn’t noticed? (pffftahahaha) Or that they need a random fluent person to tell them their speech is a problem and they should go to therapy? Because with both of these, I’d say the best thing for him to do would be to shut up and leave it. No materials, no asking, nothing. Does he want to talk about it, maybe ask how the PWS would like him to handle it, but feel awkward actually going up and asking? Then he can just gather up his courage and ask. Use some disclaimer like “please tell me if you don’t feel comfortable talking about this.” Leaving stuttering material around is just… /weird/. Like, to me it carries the unavoidable connotation that he doesn’t expect the PWS to *know* this stuff already, that he thinks he knows the other person’s disability/speech disorder/whatev. better than they themself, who’s probably had it since the age of five, does. And, okay, I’m probably biased because pre-speech therapy I was very overt and was also really curious about it and so could cite things like prevalence and possible causes and therapy methods by age nine, and some random fluent person acting like they had to educate me about my own stutter would piss me off like anything.

Unless he wants to discuss it with his other coworkers, but again he can just bloody well talk to them. Who’s got the speech disorder again? 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Podcasts, Posts, Videos

Glad you're stopping by!

  • 713,197 visits

Monthly Archives!

Copyright Notice

© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2022. 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 2022.
Follow Make Room For The Stuttering on
%d bloggers like this: