Reading Aloud And Stuttering
Posted January 23, 2015on:
I had a situation this week that brought back all the bad memories of reading aloud in school. Oh, how I hated to do that. Like many who stutter, I attempted all kinds of strategies to get out of reading aloud, as I always stutter when I can’t switch words and feel the pressure of others listening and watching.
I remember counting ahead to when it would be my turn and frantically trying to read the section and rehearse it in my head before my turn came. Or when there was only two people ahead of me, I would suddenly have to go to the bathroom or get sick and ask to see the school nurse.
I still have a piece of pencil lead in my hand from when I stabbed myself with a pencil so that I could go to the nurse’s office. Just to get out of reading aloud in class and feeling humiliated.
I sit on the Board of a non-profit literacy organization. We had our board meeting this week. The Director wants to introduce sharing the profiles of some of the individuals we serve at every meeting.
She had a list of about six paragraphs, each describing the profile of an individual on the waiting list to get literacy tutoring services. She thought we should share the wealth and each of us read one of the profiles aloud.
My mind went right to panic mode. My first instinct was to somehow figure out a way to opt out. I did not want to stutter in front of my fellow board members. I was new, so several of them did not know that I stutter. I didn’t want them to find out about my stuttering when I’m at my best with it.
After a quick moment of pondering how I would explain that I didn’t want to read aloud – sore throat, laryngitis – I realized that it would be worse for me to opt out. I just needed to do it like everyone else and be as smooth and confident as possible.
So, that’s what I did. When it was my turn, I read my paragraph and stuttered on about every other word. During the stuttering moments, I felt my face flush and felt embarrassed. But it was over quickly and we moved on to the next item of business on the agenda.
No one reacted. I didn’t sink into the floor or get hit by lightening. The worst that happened is that now everyone there knows I stutter. It’s out there now, so I won’t have to worry about it anymore.
How do you react when something like this happens?