Make Room For The Stuttering

Stuttering Is Variable

Posted on: August 8, 2017

I was talking to a friend of mine recently and she asked me about the different types of stuttering. I was intrigued by what she meant so asked her to elaborate. She said she has heard other people stutter and it’s very different than mine. She wanted to know why there were such differences.

I gave her the short answer – stuttering is variable. Severity of stuttering differs among individuals who stutter as does the impact of stuttering. A person can have a severe blocking type of stuttering and stutter or block on almost every speech attempt but it doesn’t bother them at all. Then you can have someone with a very mild stutter who is mortified every time they hear themselves stutter.

I told her there are also covert stutterers – those who clearly stutter but go to great lengths to hide it so they can appear as fluent. I told my friend that I did this for about 30 years and was absolutely miserable from the extra energy it took to hide and the feeling that I was being fraudulent by not letting my true self be seen. I also told her about the terror I always felt that my secret would be found out. She wondered how I managed for so long, and I told her about the various tricks that people who covertly stutter use to not stutter.

I told her about word substitution, little tricks like coughing, getting a running start, saying “ah” or “um” a lot or just plain choosing silence. I explained it was a lot like mental gymnastics to keep that up,

Stuttering is also variable for an individual. Fluency can vary significantly over the course of a day, hour, minute and depending what kind of speaking situation the person is facing. I can be very fluent for 30 minutes and then, seemingly like a drop of a hat, can’t get a word out. I’ll start blocking or repeating words or syllables and express frustration and even display some secondary behaviors, such as squeezing my eyes closed.

For some people who stutter, fatigue, stress and time pressure can increase their stuttering. And if a stutterer feels compelled to hide their stuttering, it can get generally more pronounced. The harder you try not to stutter, the more you’ll stutter.

My friend was amazed that I knew so much about stuttering and the different ways it can be seen and heard. She wanted to know where I learned all this.

I simply said, “I’ve lived it. Personal experience is the best teacher.”

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© 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.
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