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#zerobarriersFreedom Friday

Freedom Friday: Stuttering and the fear of rejection

By March 11, 2016No Comments

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People with stuttering problems live daily with the fear of rejection they believe they will experience by stuttering. 

I’m 73. By society’s standards, that means I’m old, and I don’t mind saying so. It’s not a cringe-worthy disclosure for me. In fact, it’s a source of pride and gratitude for certain reasons even though I’m slowed down and curtailed somewhat as others are by post-polio syndrome and arthritis. But, as unwelcome as these restrictions can be, they can be less annoying than a stuttering problem. Having one can be more limiting. How do I know? For two reasons: I have had one that began in early childhood, as most do, that I lived with as a source of worry and shame until about 10 years ago. And I was a speech pathologist who helped people work their way out of their stuttering problems.

Let me tell you the isolation experienced trying to hide a stuttering problem can create grave suffering. Not only for us as individuals by making our lives smaller and tighter than they otherwise might be but for us family and society members as well.

To some extent, almost all of us, when we feel the need, find ways to avoid stuttering by using this word we believe we can say rather than that word we believe we can’t and, in the process, we may speak untruthfully. Or, we may choose to be silent at certain times, in certain places, or with particular individuals or groups of people.

When someone who stutters engages with us and stutters, possibly strenuously, we can refrain from saying for them the words they are struggling to say. Odd as it may seem, those of us with stuttering problems are more comfortable speaking for ourselves, even when that means struggling to say a sound or word, than we are having someone, who has not asked for our consent, speak for us. That act ostensibly offered to spare us discomfort can magnify the shame and the frustration we are already feeling for being different. Nothing can make us back away faster from further conversation. “

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