The art of stammering
Last Saturday was International Stammering Awareness Day. A day when stammering associations, individuals and groups around the world organise events to mark the day and to raise awareness of stuttering. Malta is no different to the rest of the globe. Stammering or stuttering is a phenomenon alive in our little island as it is in big countries such as the US and the UK, two of the research leaders in this field.
The British Stammering Association says that “talking on stammering is how we can all help those affected to live a better life.” Stuttering has always been an inspiration for bullies, be they on the playground at school, in offices or on the shop floor at a work place. People who stammer will always find someone who will ask them to ‘get on with it’ or to ‘spit it out’. Such behaviour puts more pressure on them to the point that they will stutter even more.
This is usually followed by giggles or blank faces from people who don’t have the patience in front of a person who stammers or who find amusing the twitching and contorting of someone struggling to speak their mind.
But in reality, those who stutter and stammer in our society are actually heroes. They constantly live in a minefield peppered with individuals ready to pop a joke or a giggle at their state of affairs. They are always prepared to take it in their stride, play it down or even make fools out of themselves just to be accepted in a group of ‘friends’ or by their colleagues. They bear the pain deep in their heart and battle their mind in an attempt to outsmart their condition and possibly trigger a sentence before the stutter kicks in. And when they manage to trick their brain and utter a smooth ‘normal sounding’ phrase, they relish and praise themselves in the silence and solitude of their heart. Very few of those who make fun of people who stutter know how physically consuming it is for those who stutter. The constant battle with speech leaves a person ti`red and wishing to stop talking altogether once and for all. But instead, these people plod on. Some take to pubic speaking to defy their condition, and many claim to achieve their goal once they stand in front of a microphone or on stage - anything to by-pass the stigma that comes with stammering.
This is the art of stammering. The preparations by those who have to battle the condition every minute of the day just to be like the rest of us.
If you happen to face someone who stutters today, give him or her a break. They deserve society’s respect for the internal ordeal they go through everyday.