Although stuttering affects only 1% of the population, that still means nearly 15,000 people in Auckland alone have a stutter. Nevertheless, many of the people we work with tell us they have never met anyone else who stutters.
What we’ve noticed from many of our youth events in particular, is that one of the most successful aspects of a community or group event is that people who stutter can meet other people just like them. Meeting someone who can relate to you has a massively positive effect for stutterers, and can be the start of lifelong, supportive friendships.
A supportive community doesn’t have to be one that also stutters however, and it’s important that friends, family, and colleagues of a person who stutters understand what stuttering is, and how they can be supportive.
People who stutter needn’t be coddled or handheld, they are often confident and expressive people with many great opinions just like everyone else – but a negative or unsupportive community can be a huge hindrance.
If you are someone who stutters and you’ve found that people around you:
- Talk over you
- Finish your sentences
- Make you feel a sense of urgency, like you need to hurry your speech
- Or generally don’t make you feel comfortable talking
There is a chance they may not know how to handle a situation with ease. If they care about you, they will be eager to know what it is they are doing that is unhelpful, and what they can do to help – so let them know.
Only through educating as many people as we can about stuttering can we really create a world that is supportive and understands what stuttering is and how they can help.
Don’t be afraid to correct people, and tell them how you feel, so that you can find a community of people that supports you.