Diverse Abilities

Gina Martin

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Embracing Differences Assisting Those Who Stutter

Two Quotes from the Institute for stuttering treatment and research 1st Quote Stuttering has a genetic and hereditary component, It can begin gradually or suddenly.
2nd Quote stuttering me come and go and is variable, it may also change unpredictably in frequency and severity.

Supporting someone who stutters is important for emotional well-being and self-confidence. Stuttering can be challenging for each person experiencing it and your support can make a significant difference in our life.

Here are some tips on how to support someone who stutters:
Patience. One of the most important things you can do is to be patient when we are speaking. Without interrupting or finishing our sentences for us, please allow us the time we need to express ourselves. Completing sentences for us can be frustrating and feels disempowering. 
Show that you are actively listening and engaged in the conversation by maintaining eye contact. This can help those of us who stutter feel more comfortable and understood.
We each experience our stutter differently, varying from mild to profound. Some variables affecting our stutter are stress, excitement, fatigue, and hunger.
Help us feel more comfortable expressing ourselves through listening actively. Calmly, gently providing a nod and verbal cues like "I understand" or "Continue when you’re ready," can be encouraging.
Do not pretend you understand if you do not. Ask us to repeat what we said. You can offer alternative formats such as writing it down or texting. Some people may have communication boards that they use if their stutter is too intense.
Negative reactions to our stuttering, such as showing impatience, frustration, or making fun of us can be both hurtful and counterproductive, making our symptoms worse.
We are not intentionally doing anything to annoy or bother you, our stutter can mean we need to communicate differently than someone without a stutter.
Create a relaxed and supportive atmosphere during our conversations by conveying calmness and patience. This reduces stress and pressure some of us who stutter feel and makes us more comfortable.
Model effective communication by speaking clearly and at a moderate pace. This can help some of us who stutter feel less self-conscious about our speech.
Always speak to us and not the person we are with.
Educate yourself by taking the time to learn about stuttering. Understanding the condition and its challenges can help you provide better support.

We are a diverse community, and our communication style is what makes us different, that is all.
It is important to respect each individual's choices regarding how we want to manage our stutter. Some people may choose to address it more directly, while others may prefer to work with it privately.
Stuttering can be emotionally challenging. Be a source of emotional support and let us know you are there to listen and help us navigate any feelings of self-doubt or frustration.
Remember that each person who stutters is unique, and their needs and preferences may vary. Being empathetic, patient, and understanding is key to providing meaningful support to those of us who stutter.

Please note that eye contact can be difficult for some individuals so please use your words and ask how you can best be a support. 

More information about stuttering is available at

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