Curious about Stuttering

Am I curious because I was just born that way, or did stuttering have something to do with it?

A close friend recently pointed out to me that I am very curious and take great interest in things I don’t know much about as they are explained or shown to me. And that it’s a genuine interest. Yes, it certainly is.

I think back to when I was young, getting absorbed in books for hours and hours. And not just fiction (we’d be given 1″ thick books with all the year’s stories in them, and I’d eat through it in a week). I’d go to the library and check out books on airplanes (Time Life Series!) and read them again and again.

Given the stuttering, I think it’s to be expected, really. It’s a choice — read, or have to … talk with people. I’ll choose the former every time, thank you very much.

But as I grew older, the approach changed. I didn’t have to rely on reading. I learned that I could ask open-ended questions and just let people talk, occasionally prodding them with another query. And if the tables were turned, I could give short to medium answers which always seemed satisfactory. Even if the listener wanted an essay out of me, I’d avoid it all costs. So now it’s become the norm, and something I actually enjoy — conversations are maybe not 50/50, but I do enjoy prodding and poking and finding out more. And I’m getting better at asking all of my questions — not just the ones I can say fluently.

Asking about my stuttering

Alright, so a few days ago, I said I’d ask my son about my stuttering. I need to explain stuttering to him. I wasn’t sure how to go about doing this other than saying that I’ve been doing it since I was his age, there’s no cure, and oh yeah, it’s because my brain is a little messed up.

So here are his answers to the questions I posted before plus a few more things I thought to ask.

1. Do you know what stuttering is?
When you keep repeating a letter or a sound.

2. Do you hear me stuttering around the house?
Yes

3. Does it bother you?
No

4. Do you think you stutter at all (he doesn’t)
Sometimes when I’m talking fast.

5. Does anybody in your class stutter?
No. I’ve heard them all talk.

6. Have you ever heard anybody on tv or in movies stutter?
No, but I have seen it in books when they’re scared.

7. What do you think causes stuttering?
I don’t know.

Additional questions:

8. Do you think someone who stutters isn’t as smart?
No. They’re the same. (Why?) Because you’re the same as everybody else.

9. Are you tempted to finish my words?
Sometimes? Not really though.

10. Has my stuttering changed in the last few months or stayed the same?
Stayed the same.

11. Is there a time of day that you think I stutter more?
It seems to be more in the afternoon.

12. Do you think it’ll happen to you?
I don’t know. Sometimes I get a little lost while talking, though.

I also explained to him how it’s random and wildly inconsistent. Of course I wasn’t stuttering during all of this. The vibe I got was that stuttering didn’t deserve his attention any more than all the other curiosities of the world. So here again, those of us who stutter think everybody is judging us when in fact our kids are just wondering what’s for dinner, if they can have money for the ice cream social at school and no, bed time is at 9, and it’s only 8:57.

As I think about this more, I think it would have been more meaningful (or still can be) if there’s a broader view of the human body, the motor functions, and how the brain brings it all together. Then dive into what sorts of things can go wrong.

I think the problem with explaining to your fluent kids about your stutter is that they can’t relate at all. It’s likely that 99.9% of their teachers and friends are fluent as well. I’m just trying to think what more, if anything, I can do for my own kids. I think they should be more aware — simply because of me. But I shouldn’t expect that they take it up as some kind of lifelong passion. Or even that they remember to ask me every day how my speech is.

%d bloggers like this: