The Benefits Of Stuttering
Posted September 8, 2015on:
People often view stuttering as a flaw, a deficit, a challenge to be overcome. Many of us who stutter have been met with negative social consequences for our stuttering: teasing, bullying, mocking, exclusion and being laughed at. Many of us apologize to our listeners for our stuttering. We often feel as if we are a burden to the listener, because we take longer to speak than the “normal” fluent speaker.
As a result of all this, people who stutter may spend lots of time, energy and money to change their stuttering so that our speech will be more socially accepted. We participate in speech therapy, we practice speaking for hours, or when these fail, we may avoid speaking situations all together.
Online stuttering forums are loaded with people looking for advice on dating, job interviews, talking on the telephone and ordering food in restaurants and drive through stations.
Sometimes it can get very depressing reading about all the difficulties that people who stutter have and face. It can also be depressing to personally deal with negative listener reactions and feelings of shame.
So why is the title of this post called “The Benefits Of Stuttering,” you may ask. So far, I haven’t mentioned anything positive about stuttering. Can stuttering really have benefits?
Well, if you think about it, there are many benefits to stuttering. People generally remember us because of our stutter. When I answer the phone at work and stutter, it’s not unusual for someone to say “hi Pam.” They equate me with my stuttering and remember who I am.
People who stutter often have more compassion and empathy for others with differences. We’re also good listeners and are very patient. These are benefits that we often don’t think of because we get so caught up in what’s wrong with stuttering.
My UK friend Lisa recently shared a great example of how stuttering was an advantage for her. (She gave me permission to recount the story here.)
I started my new role as a 1:1 teaching assistant at school recently with a little boy who has a muscular disease that affects the muscles in his mouth resulting in a stammer.
I was nervous to meet his parents, as I didn’t know if they would be happy with a person who stammers overseeing speech practice with their child who stammers. I explained from the outset that I also stammer but was able to mainly control it and that I was familiar with the different types of stammering, secondary behaviors and therapies associated with it.
I was so wrong in assuming that the parents would have an issue with me. The mum actually said she was over the moon, more for the fact that I would first hand understand how he might feel not being able to communicate as quickly as his peers. I said that because the staff know too, and are patient with me, they would already know to do the same with the child and that some of the children are aware of being patient with me, so would just adapt with him.
She then said that after our meeting, she was 100% sure it was the right thing to move him to the school. For once I felt stammering was an advantage.
What a great story that illustrates one of the main benefits of stuttering – empathy for others and instinctively knowing what it’s like and how best to listen and respond to another person who stutters.
So, the next time you think there are only negatives associated with stuttering, think again. There are benefits and sometimes it’s to our advantage to stutter.
What do you think? Have you ever thought of your stuttering as an advantage or realized one of its benefits?