How can we support a PWS in daily interactions?

Hi! I’m Jose Rojas. I’m a student as CSUF studying communication sciences and disorders. In my fluency class we recently finished up a voluntary stuttering project where we, as students, had to purposefully stutter in front of others. One thing I experienced was that others tended to “overcompensate” when they heard me. They smiled at me, nodded, said things like “take your time”, and while that’s great, it also felt a bit patronizing! I also had some people finish my sentences for me. How should non-stutterers support a PWS during interactions without inciting feelings of embarrassment for the other? What can we do to respectfully support them?  

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How can we support a PWS in daily interactions? — 1 Comment

  1. Hi Jose

    Thanks for your observations. Yes, most people want to help, but help is not always helpful. Most of the people I meet are patient and friendly, but unfortunately not everyone is. Sometimes people laugh, some because they are so surprised they don’t know what else to do, and a few because they actually think stuttering is funny. Remember that the media still projects us as funny, weird, less intelligent and even criminals, and there are still so many misconceptions.

    We also meet people who try to “help”. They interrupt, fill in our words, look away etc, and we get “advice” like “take a deep breath”, “you don’t have to be nervous” and “there’s this therapy that cures you in two days”. Very nice, but not helping. Worse, it might silence us, as you take away our words and show you’re more focused on how we speak than what we’re saying.

    There are countries where stuttering is so wrong, people are not allowed to get married or are hit in school. I also heard about one country where stuttering is totally ok, so there is no therapy available!

    In short, more and more people understand they simply need to treat us like any other person and just give us a little more time. And ASK if you’re unsure how to react or help. And as long as not everyone understands, we need to keep talking and explain how we want to be treated, what is helping and what not. To do that, we need to work on shame and to make stuttering visible in society.

    Happy ISAD and keep helping us talk