stammerheadshark * blog about living with an acquired neurogenic stammer

Fact – A stutter is better than no speech at all

Posted on: August 10, 2009

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

I’m beyond cross. Guess whose speech has gone into hiding again? Bingo!  I think someone up there is playing one cruel joke. I really do.

I’ve had a really rough day; the worst night’s sleep on record last night, first day back at work after having swine flu (major shock to the system – I ache all over), rude people ringing up and informing me that “something’s wrong with the telephone connection” when I pick up, and then British Gas…

British Gas and their sodding voice recognition telephone services. Annoying at the best of times, but throw in a severe stammer and that computer’s got no clue what you’re trying to tell it.

I never know whether to even bother trying them anymore; they just ask you to repeat, repeatedly. Unfortunately, whichever wise ass decided they’d be a great resource failed to acknowledge just how completely inaccessible they are. All a fantastic help when you just want to pay your gas bill on time. Idiots.

Anyway, I then spent a good half hour trying to read out my card number to a random guy in an overseas call centre. Great, he can’t understand a word I’m saying and his level of spoken english is pretty unintellligible. Thank goodness they have an 0800 number or it would have cost a fortune.

I just felt so appalled by having to hear the insult of this stammer that doesn’t belong to me every time I open my mouth, that I didn’t even want to hear myself anymore.

Afterwards, I crawled upstairs exhausted by it all; utterly humiliated by a machine and a faceless call-centre operative, and knowing that if I let it get to me that I faced the risk of my speech disappearing again.

The boyfriend asked if I was okay, and that was it. Floods of tears and my stuttery speech slurred to a halt. Right before our eyes, again. And now I’m back resorting to keying out messages on my phone to be able to communicate.

It’s unbelievably frustrating. This is the third time in just over a month that my speech has disappeared, that and I’ve had swine flu too. So, if there is a god – he’s a real prankster. Only I’m not laughing.

And I just think, as horrified as I am by it all, as much as I never seem to adjust to the shock of how my speech now sounds, that maybe I just need to appreciate the speech I actually do have. Stammer and all, because as humiliating as it is to hear it, sometimes you just need to be heard.

2 Responses to "Fact – A stutter is better than no speech at all"


In my experience illness has always made me far less fluent. I was speaking to my speech therapist about it when I was ill and she told me to try to talk less, not to worry about it and focus on getting better.

I think that when you are ill you need to be careful not to fall off the cliff so to speak. When I get ill, my speech gets worse, then I start to get stressed that speech is getting is worse, then it gets even more worse, so I stress some more and ahhhh.

Fortunately it does get better.

As for phone calls. I found it funny reading what you had written as I suffer from exactly the same thing. Have you tried to order a pizza!?

What do you want sir?
Sir I do not understand, collection or delivery
.. .. elivery
Sir, I am sorry, you want collection.
…. …. …. *enter fury* … Delivery!
OK Sir what is your address

I think that with automated call centers you can hold the hash key to get through an operator. This works for me fairly often. If I am phoning a uk call center I tell the operator that I have stutter and they suddenly become super friendly.

If it is a foreign call center, when I say I have a stammer they pause, I assume they are checking their script. They then say ‘I don’t understand’… then they complain about the phone line or background sound or something else.

As a result I have switched all of my services to companies with UK call centers 🙂

I try not to let things get me down. I sometimes practice on the phone. I call up a random shop and ask when they close. I ask what it costs for something etc. I find this helps a little. The key is to keep talking and trying. As soon as you start avoiding the phone, when you do have to speak it gets far far worse.

Good luck with it 🙂

Thanks 🙂 You too!

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