Things that annoy people who stutter – Willemijn Bolks

About the Author: My name is Willemijn and I am a 19 year old girl from the Netherlands.  From age 12 to 17 I hid my stutter, which forced me to express myself in other ways than speech. This is one of the reasons why I started making art. I’m currently studying design at artschool, and trying to be more open about my stutter. I do this by talking about it and making art or videos. Connecting with other people who stutter really helps me as well, and I’m hoping to go to international stuttering conferences in the future.

NOTE to viewers: Please note before starting video, content is in Dutch with English subtitles at bottom.

I made this video to speak my mind, to help explain people in a funny way how to (not) treat people who stutter. Humor really helps me to open up about what is on my mind and takes the tension off.

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Things that annoy people who stutter – Willemijn Bolks — 49 Comments

  1. Very entertaining and also educational Willemijn. You are a natural in front and behind the camera! Keep up the good work.

  2. Hilariously funny Willemijn! If we don’t laugh at some of these situations, we would just cry, so I also choose laughter.

  3. You’re such a cool woman, Willemijn! 🙂 It’s amazing how you project stuttering in so many ways. Words, movies, drawings. Love it! Your journey is so amazing, I’m so happy to be a part of it. You’re all that! Happy ISAD and keep talking!

    • Dankje! I would have had much less inspiration for art without my stutter😅 Stuttering is such an interesting and deep topic, I love it 🙈

  4. This is so wonderful. I believe I saw this before and Ioved seeing it again. This needs to be seen by the widest audience as possible and you definitely need to go to an international conference on stuttering. And you would be an outstanding guest on someone’s “Women Who Stutter: Our Stories” podcast.

  5. A humorous and entertaining take on reactions to stuttering. I wonder if you’d be willing to share your story of changing from from covert to open stuttering, and the effect that has had on you.

    • I posted a video about that proces a year ago on this website. Maybe I can make another one looking back at the proces. Thanks!

  6. This was a great portrayal of what PWS encounter. These can be so frustrating! I am glad that you are able to put a humorous spin on your frustrations. Your confidence and self-esteem comes through and is inspiring for others!

  7. I laughed so hard watching this. My favorite was the very last scene, in which SIRI erroneously interprets what you’re saying. Thank you for sharing. I’m not a person who stutters, but as part of the intensive stuttering clinic I participated in this summer, my team and I participated in several pseudo stuttering situations in which I experienced a lot of the things you’ve demonstrated here. I never realized how frustrating it can be when people try to “help” until I experienced it myself. I love the honesty you’ve shown here.

  8. Thank you for sharing this video, I enjoyed watching and had a good laugh. When these circumstances happen in daily life do you just let them go or try to educate the person? What would you say to someone who is struggling with how people react to their stutter? Thanks!

    • I try to tell them but I usually end up being a bit too sarcastic about it out of frustration. Thank you!

  9. We enjoyed the comedy added to the video, while also showing the struggles of everyday life as a person who stutters. What we found most interesting was your comments regarding technology as we are constantly using this for everyday activities. As technology is rapidly advancing in the fields of voice recognition and more, we hope that eventually people who stutter will be able to use technology in the same ways as people who do not stutter.

    • I never thought about it that way, it always feel like my fault. It would be cool if technology can understand us too 😉

  10. Thank you for sharing this video! I am a future speech-language pathologist and your video helped me learn many things that could help me empathize with my future clients. Many of the things you talked about in your video are things that I had never thought about before. For one, being aware of my body language while someone stutters is very important. I would not want my facial expression to make someone feel uncomfortable about themselves or their stutter. I had also never thought about challenges you might face with technology. Are there any strategies you use to make using voice commands with technology easier? It would be awesome to see Apple and Google come up with a way to make voice commands easier for those who stutter.

    Thank you so much for sharing. Your video taught me many new things that I will carry into my practice as a speech-language pathologist!

    • Thank you. I actually never use voice commands because of this. It makes me nervous. But then I dont know anyone else that really uses that, its not really necessary.

  11. Thank you for sharing your wonderfully humorous perspective, Willemijn! It is interesting to see some of the reactions and problems you run across. I read your bio and was shocked to learn how long you hid your stutter. Do you think that experience heightened your creativity or strengthened other communicative skills? If so, I am really glad you gained something positive from a crazily challenging experience. I am also really glad you’re not hiding anymore, because I think your art is really important. Do you share your art elsewhere?

    • Thank you! Yes, my stutter kind of forced me to express myself in other ways and be creative. My art instagram is @wimsem_yt 🙂

  12. I really enjoyed your video and that you’re able to find humor in annoying reactions that others have when you stutter. How do you prefer people react when you’re having a moment of stuttering? Does it make you feel anxious if people hold eye contact while you’re in the moment? Or do you prefer people look away?

    • Thanks! I prefer when people look at me the same way they look at people who speak fluent. I try to maintain eyecontact.

  13. I enjoyed your video! I think it actually brought to light a lot of things that people probably try to do to help but are “annoying”. I think of times when I am trying to do something and people try to help too much. I know they are trying to help but in my head, I think “why do they keep doing this?” I thought the first one, the monkey face, was hilarious, but so true! I also think that when people have that expression on their face it probably sends the message of: hurry up and finish talking. Along with being a funny facial expression, it probably is a bit frustrating too. Do you have any recommendations on what do instead of these things?

    PS- I agree with everyone that you are a natural in front of the camera!

    • Thank you! I wish people just listened and try to maintain eyecontact. Like normal people😂

  14. I truly enjoyed your video and perspective. I never considered how Siri would react to a moment of stuttering! By the way, you are a natural actress, I hope you continue with your message.

    • Thank you, that means a lot to me as I failed a lot of theatre auditions because of my stutter

  15. I enjoyed your video and it was also educational for what things to educate family members about that may be annoying the person who stutters. I like that it shows things that people may think are helping, but are actually just really annoying. It is always great to find humor in any situation, and you have done this wonderfully. Do you ever try to educate people when these types of things happen in a humorous way?

    • Thank you! When I educate people I always make it into a joke, otherwise I probably get angry.

  16. Loved the video, Willemijn! Very creative. One question, I saw how Siri on your phone interrupted your communication with her, are there any other difficulties with technology that you have due to stuttering?

  17. I absolutely love humor and I connect with it so well. Thank you for sharing your video!! I think the funniest part is the things you called attention to actually happens and people who don’t stutter, or don’t have experience with stuttering, have no idea they are doing it.

  18. Thank you for sharing! I enjoyed your video, Willemijn! I saw in the video that the person on the phone hung up on you during your stutter. Does this happen often, and if so, what is your approach towards this? Thanks in advance!

    • Thank you! A few years ago I would cry, now I get frustrated or laugh. I cant do anything about it. Sometimes I try to say I stutter beforehand but sometimes that doesnt even come out

  19. This is a very funny and entertaining piece that was also so very informative. I think this is really important for people to see especially if they do not have a stutter to bring awareness to be more careful about the things they unconsciously do to help but are in fact really annoying. Technology can beneficial in some areas but it is also interesting to realize how it can also be very frustrating to work with. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Willemijn,

    Thank you for sharing such a fun, light-hearted video to educate us all. I am not a PWS, but I am a graduate student in a speech language pathology program and we have learned about the anxiety that PWS can experience when communicating with others and how negative reactions to their stutter can increase their anxiety even more. Watching this short video has helped me to better understand how important it is for someone who is communicating with a PWS to be more aware of their unconscious reactions they demonstrate. I am curious, when this happens to you, do you typically ignore the negative reactions to your moments of stuttering or do you use this time to educate others on how to better react to future situations like this? Additionally, besides these examples you have provided in the video on how to not treat a PWS, are there any other behaviors that you could advise me as a future SLP to avoid when communicating or working with a PWS in my future practice? Thanks in advance!

    -Jerilyn Garrett

    • Thank you! I mostly ignore it because I get frustrated and will probably educate them in a frustrated way. Im trying to make more of a joke out of it now though.
      Just talk to pws like you would to people who dont stutter, and you can always ask the person what they are comfortable with.

  21. Thanks for sharing, Willemijn! I am a student at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and I am currently taking an advanced fluency disorders course. I have never heard about someone’s experience from outside of the U.S. related to their stuttering, as you were able to do so in such an engaging and humorous way.

    I will be sure to remember this video as I begin working with people who stutter as a speech-language pathologist. I have one question related to how you discuss your stuttering with your friends. I did read that you hid your stutter from ages 12 to 17, as you gained a strong passion in art, while I am wondering if you ever talk to your friends about the things you showed in this video? For example, informing them to wait until you have finished your word or sentence.

    Thanks again for sharing! Like everyone else has mentioned, you do an awesome job in front of the camera! I look forward to possibly seeing you in more videos and through your art.

    • Thank you! 🙂
      I did talk about it to my friends, not a lot though. They naturally feel what I’m comfortable with, and I showed them this video too.

  22. Hi Willemijn,

    I love how you express yourself! although I’m not a PWS, I can related to using art and humor as my go outlet. Do you post any of your art anywhere? I would be interested to see some of your work!

    I’m a graduate student in the USA, and was curious about treatment for fluency disorders in the Netherlands. Have you been to a Speech Therapist before? if so, did you find treatment useful or useless?


  23. Hi Willemijn,
    I loved this video because it’s funny, yet probably very true. I like how you can turn in your own personal negative experiences into a comical video and you probably just made a big impact on someone who stutter’s life because now they don’t feel so alone, and can connect with you. I was wondering if you have ever been to a speech therapist before?

  24. This was such a great way to express your frustrations! I think so many people can connect with humor and I am so glad you are able to put a humorous spin on your struggles! In addition to being funny, it was also informative and could help bring awareness to these common things that people do. Hopefully, by bringing more awareness to these issues, people can learn what they should not do! I love how honest and open you are and your confidence and personality really shine in this video!

  25. Hello Willemijn,
    Thank you for shedding some light on things that we often do no think about. Very rarely do we think about how someone else is feeling when we are holding a conversation with them.
    I enjoyed the humor of the video for keeping things light and seeing things as they probably happen first hand daily in someone’s life that stutters.
    Thank you,

  26. Willemijn,
    Very funny, yet informative video! I like that you can find humor in your frustrations, and thank you for sharing!

  27. Hello Willemijn,
    Thank you for sharing this video and being so open and honest about your stuttering. I’m currently in grad school to become an SLP and I’m taking a class on Stuttering. I noticed that a lot of the material that I am learning about right now is reinforced in this video. I really love how creative you were in making this video, by making it not only informative on how others react to stuttering, but adding humor in there as well. It brought attention to the fact that many PWS struggle with what you experience, and seeing this can be comforting to those individuals by making them feel like they are not alone. The different scenarios in this video did a great job with portraying how some people do not fully understand the stuttering diagnosis, and how they react towards a PWS can impact them in a negative way. This feedback is very useful, especially when I will treat PWS as a speech therapist!
    Thank you,