Do you use these common coping strategies for your stammer?


Bismillah al Rahman al Rahim

Stutters (or stammers) are the strangest things!

If you have one, you are likely to have it for life - perhaps you have already found strategies to deal with it. In this article I discuss some common 'coping' strategies I often come across when meeting and working with those who have a stammer.

"No quick fix"

Unfortunately you cannot just get a pair of prescription ‘glasses’ to correct the problem, you have to do a lot more work yourself, it’s more like seeking to exercise in a certain way to correct a permanent physical weakness. BUT - Everyone stutters sometimes. Truly. There’s a wee stutter gremlin that gets to most (normal) people.

It is just that you are one of those for whom stuttering has become the monster that taunts you whenever you try and talk.

This is especially true when it is something important you want to communicate, like your name, address or phone number. It is also happens frequently when it is someone you want to impress!

Famous 'Stammerers'

You are in good company - King George (of the King’s speech fame) and Prophet Moses, about whom more was said in the Quran than about any other Prophet. The prayer he made before his big audience with Pharaoh, his Foster Father and the tyrannical Ruler of Egypt, is recorded. This is obviously a huge stressor for someone who has a stammer: they have to give a momentous message to this fierce ruler who was also essentially his Father. He asked God for his ‘Chest to be expanded’, (that seems to refer to his being able to breathe well!) and he asked:

"Please remove the impediment from my speech so that they may understand what I say."

Great prayer! I wonder if you might have asked something similar about your or your child's stammer?

Is it psychological? Is it all in the mind?

There is certainly a psychological element, as there is with any of our behaviours, and it gets more complicated the longer we have a stutter.

Sometimes we even need to stutter, because it becomes part of our security in a perverse way.

Often, people know we stutter, so do not expect so much of us, and that makes it easier to feel ‘confident’.

Getting to grips with that aspect probably demands professional help, unless you are very self-perceptive and able to be honest with yourself, and can detect when this is happening.

You may already be doing some things that you think and hope are helping you - human beings have innate ways of dealing with weaknesses, usually involving an instinctive desire to cover up and protect oneself.

Here are some strategies you may already use to cope with your stammer:

1. You avoid situations when you are aware that you may stutter

2. You avoid words that you know you stutter on, and replacing another word

3. You avoid sounds that you know you find hard to get out, like for example, ‘p’ at the beginning of a word, so you find another word in its place

These techniques are obviously challenging to use constantly - and they demand a high level of brain power to keep yourself ahead of each speaking situation and decide how you can tackle it. They are often not the best way to cope, either! In another article, I list some other ways that you might like to try and, with practice, you might find easier than simply avoidance.

What kind of strategies do you use or know of to cope with a stammer? Let us know in the comments below.

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