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Answers for Friends


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 "she". 

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


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Redifining Stuttering: What The Struggle To Speak Is Really All About

Redifining Stuttering - Harrison