9 Ways You Can Support Someone Who Stutters
Although we know today stuttering is a genetically-influenced condition that involves different neurological development in childhood, there’s still a lot of misunderstanding that surrounds people who stutter. If you know someone who stutters, don’t believe the myths. Here are some ways to be supportive instead:
1. Know that people don’t stutter because they’re nervous.
This is a common myth because even the most fluent speakers can have a harder time speaking when nervous or under a lot of stress. However, nervousness is not the cause of the stuttering.
2. Don’t think people who stutter are less smart or incapable.
This cannot be anything farther from the truth! There are scientists, writers and professors who stutter. People who stutter can be successful in any profession imaginable!
3. Know that stuttering isn’t a habit people can break if they want to.
Stuttering is not a habit, but rather a neurological condition that can carry through an individual’s adult life no matter how hard they work at changing their speech.
4. Listen to the content of the speech.
Don’t focus too much on how it’s being delivered — try to listen to what the person’s actually saying.
5. Keep natural eye contact.
Keep natural eye contact with the person when you’re listening. This means not staring and avoiding eye contact when they’re speaking.
6. Pay attention to your body language.
Make sure your body language shows you’re listening and not embarrassed.
7. Don’t interrupt.
Don’t interrupt or finish the person’s sentences. Allow them to finish. People who stutter know what they want to say, they just take a bit longer to say it.
8. Don’t give unwarranted advice.
Don’t tell them to slow down, relax or take a breath. It comes across demeaning and does not help the person.
9. Treat them with respect.
Treat the person who stutters with the same level of respect and dignity you would anyone else.