If you are a friend of a person who stutters,
here are some tips that will help in your relationship with
your friend who stutters.
Note: For ease of writing I will refer to your
friend as "he" although your friend who stutters may also be a
1) You will notice that your friend does not
always stutter. Probably he does not stutter badly or
often with you. This is because he feels comfortable in
the relationship he has with you as you like him for who he is
and you do not judge him negatively because he has a speech
dysflency. You may however find that he stutters with other
people that he does not know so well as he may be concerned
about their reaction if he stutters with them. This is normal
behaviour for anyone who has a stutter.
2) When your friend is talking to you and he
has a speech block or bad stutter it is often that you will
know the word he is trying to say. It is always very tempting
to say the word for him or start to answer on the assumption
that you know what he is going to say. It is more respectful to
your friend if you allow him to say the word himself or finish
what he wants to say. Be patient at these times.
3) You may notice that your friend goes a
little quiet around people that you both meet. This may be
because your friend is feeling a little shaky with his speech
in that situation. It can sometimes help if you introduce your
friend to others as introductions are often hard for some
people who stutter. It may also assist if you do not direct
conversation towards your friend when you can see that he
appears to be abnormally quiet or appears to be having more
trouble with his speech than normal. Let your friend dictate
how and when he speaks in such a situation.
4) It is unlikely that your friend will raise
the topic of his speech dysfluency with you but when you feel
the time is right you may want to raise the topic yourself in
such a way that your friend feels comfortable to talk about it.
Show that you care about understanding his problem and even
share a bit about your own problems and anxieties that you
reserve for those very close to you. It will enhance your
friendship and help you better understand what your friend is
going through with his particular life problem. You will get a
better understanding of what is going on and how you can help
when a difficult situation arises in his speech. If he knows
that you fully understand and do not judge him negatively for
his stuttering you will probably find that his stuttering is
very minimal around you.
5) Your friend may at some time seek treatment
for his stuttering. Invariably he will sound different to you
during and after the treatment program. He may say less words
on one breath, may talk much slower, may speak in a slightly
slurred manner, may appear to take unusually big breaths before
speaking. Whatever it is that he does it is what he has been
taught to help him to speak without stuttering so it would be
VERY helpful to him if you comment how fluent it sounds. It
will be very detrimental to your friends progress towards more
fluent speech if you were to laugh at his new speech pattern or
comment that is sounds strange. Be understanding as stuttering
cannot be cured, it can only be controlled. Encourage your
friend to use his new found skills when speaking with you.
6) Understand that there may be certain
situations that are more difficult for your friend to speak
fluently in e.g talking to a member of the opposite sex, using
the telephone, introducing people, ordering at a bar or in a
restaurant, being called on to make a speech, speaking to a
person in authority or any situation that is perceived as
stressful for one reason or another. It is helpful to be aware
of this and any other situation that you notice.
As you are already aware, we ALL have an issue
or two in life that we have to deal with and some, like
stuttering, are more obvious than others. We all want to be
understood. We all want others to understand and respect us.
Unfortunately speaking is such a major part of how we express
who we are but who we are is a lot more than how we speak.
Understanding each other and how other people are will make you
not only a better friend but a better human being. On behalf of
your friend, thanks for reading this.
If you have any questions you would like
answered or have any suggestions of what should be covered in
this section, please email firstname.lastname@example.org