Make Room For The Stuttering


Posted on: December 1, 2010

I had a big outreach presentation yesterday at one of my local high schools. I am beginning to know my material by heart and can give this talk almost effortlessly. I felt especially good because it was a morning presentation and I had more time alloted than usual. So I did not feel pressured or rushed, as I do sometimes. And I even had a remote for my multi- media presentation (a must with kids!) and found myself walking around the room with ease while talking.

I try to involve the kids in the presentations, by asking questions that I know someone will know the answer to. Trust me! This is  vital self-preservation when public speaking. While waiting for someone to respond, it gives me a chance to take a sip of water. You should drink lots of water when talking for a while!

When I started talking about our Information Technology program towards the end, I could see some of the kids looked bored. I asked how many of them had studied a different language. Almost every hand shot up, and they yelled out, “Spanish, French and Japanese”. I asked if anyone knew what computer language was. No one knew. I would just tell them. Nope, not that simple today.

Computers are machines that only understand binary language – the numbers zero and one. Those numbers can be translated into something that us humans can see, read and understand.

I had the biggest block on the word binary. It just wasn’t coming. It came out “bi-bi-bi-bi-bi-bi-NARY”. When I finally got past the “bi”, I pushed “nary” out so hard I was almost out of breath. That almost never happens. In that split second, my mind raced for another word for binary. I couldn’t come up with one – I’m glad I didn’t, but my natural instinct was to try. I also remember my eye squeezing shut as I pushed “nary” out and then I kind of looked around, and the weirdest thing . . .  no one seemed to even notice.

I had been in that “lost place” for those milliseconds, which seemed forever, as I pushed the word out . . . and no one even knew I had “gone anywhere” or what had even had happened.

I took a swig of water, paused and finished the presentation. What else could I do? Just let it happen and move forward, right? Right!

5 Responses to "Bi-bi-bi-bi-bi-binary!"

I have felt this “lost in hyperspace” impression more than once during struggles. Somehow, it falls in my mind in the same category as déjà vu: a very personal feeling which seems very real, but that others do not notice.
The analogy with computers which spend also a lot of their time lost in usuless computations is also funny.
In any event, you are right that the proper thing to do is to move forward.

We’ve all been there a thousand times, haven’t we? It’s funny that you couldn’t find a substitute word for binary. My mind used to always be scanning my memory for a substitute word….but there are no substitute words when we have to tell people our names or where we live, although I must admit I have tried. I told someone once that my name was r-r-r-rusty, because that’s what came out. I got some strange looks on that one.

AWESOME JOB staying with the word and not substituting. That’s a great example of how most people don’t really care that we stutter. They care about our ability to communicate. Again great job!

Thanks Sarah! It did seem like every fiber in my body so wanted to switch in that moment . . . . its funny how the brain still wants to do that even after not doing it for a long time.
I guess its all about “avoidance reduction”, huh? 🙂

I would say so 🙂

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