I don't usually post personal things, but this just might help someone. I am a factual person; many people have told me I am left-brained. If a personal story helps someone more than the facts about stuttering, here goes!
While at a party over the holidays, I was sitting on a sofa just watching the crowd. I am not one to mingle much, plus I get tired easily. I don't usually go to gatherings other than family get-togethers, but some family members wanted this old man to join them for some reason.
Anyway, while I was sitting there, I must have looked bored or lonely as a young man came and sat down on the sofa with me. I said "hello" when he sat down, and he didn't say anything. I thought he hadn't heard me, so I spoke a little louder and made some small talk. He still didn't say anything. I just continued to talk about the weather, the pretty dresses some of the girls had on, the Christmas ties the men were wearing, and whatever.
Finally, during one of my pauses, he spoke. We had a very pleasant visit talking about his being in college, where he was from, the fact that I had lived there years ago, and talking about how the place had changed. After about 15 minutes of conversation, he said, "I stutter, so I was afraid to start talking when you first spoke to me; but I am not stuttering while talking to you. I wonder why that is!"
My response, after telling him that I have relatives who stutter so I grew up knowing about stuttering, was "You probably are comfortable with me because you don't have to 'save face' while talking with an old man like you think you do while talking with a pretty girl. It is a one-on-one conversation without several people trying to get in what they want to say. Plus, I speak slowly and pause often without being in a hurry to talk. Or, it could be that you are just having a good day!" His seemed more cheerful and self-confident and decided to go join some people he knew.
He came back very shortly to where I was sitting and said, "No, it is not because I am having a good speaking day. I just stuttered like crazy and blocked when trying to speak to a girl I know. I wish everyone would help me feel the way you do - not rushed, relaxed, peaceful, intelligent, and kinda like I am talking to my teddy bear. Others look at me like I am stupid. and that makes me feel like I am."
This is one thing The Stuttering Foundation of America is trying to do! Let everyone, but especially parents, teachers, and employers know how to talk with someone who stutters, how to make them feel, and change the impression that stutterers are not as intelligent as those who don't stutter.
I hope my telling this story will entice others to help those who stutter by slowing their own speech down, treating them (and looking at them) like anyone else when they talk, and giving them plenty of time to speak.
Look up the brochures at www.stutteringhelp.org and print out some for teachers, employers, and others to give out. You will make a difference in someone's life, I guarantee you.