stammerheadshark * blog about living with an acquired neurogenic stammer

Lip service, but not as you know it…

Posted on: October 18, 2009

After spending evenings avoiding the internet thanks to the abundant exposure I receive during the day working for a web development company, the weekend seems as good a time to catch up with life online as any…

An odd thing happened this weekend, and upon reflection it’s something I’ve begun to notice others doing also. It appears, and I could be completely wrong about this, that people find it far easier to understand my stutter when they can see my facial expressions also.

I’d honestly assumed that physical vis-a-vis interaction might make it more difficult to be understood with a stammer, but it seems that particular reality is adverse to my initial expectations.

You would think that the overwhelming combination of the stammer’s aural repetitions juxtaposed against the visual spectacle of my mouth going ninety-to-the-dozen would be the cause of miscomprehension, but after noticing people distinctly struggling to make sense of my words when either confusion inducing component is lacking, it oddly seems to be the case that both are required.

We went to visit my extended family this weekend; who, although have had a fair amount of exposure to this oral amendment, still don’t see enough of me to have become fully accustomed to the change in my speech.

It struck me as the day wore on that the only occasions they strained in conversation with me would be when I wasn’t looking in their direction; that they needed to be able to marry the verbal repetitions with the visual clues from my lips in order to cancel out the superfluous sounds they were hearing.

I found it so odd that this might be the case, thinking that the speech alone would be far easier to make sense from, until it dawned on me that this is precisely the reaction my interactions at work provoke, despite my thinking that others wanting to face me when speaking was out of sheer social etiquette.

While I am sure that manners play a part in people wanting to face each other during conversation, it is encouraging to know that we are all a little disabled from full comprehension when the cards are not in our favour.

My hearing has become excessively sensitive since the accident that caused this stammer and infuriatingly if the radio is on, car window is open, or other people are talking in the vicinity, I become unable to string a sentence together let alone my thoughts.

This has led to an unfortunate situation whereby I am the “music Nazi” at work – although I am sure they would prefer that their colleague was able to contribute toward shifting the workload, rather than being exposed to the dulcet tones of Chris Moyles on the radio and then working late into the evening every night.

My point being that with the most inconsequential of actions it can become difficult to maintain concecentration, conversation or simply a stream of thought. In that sense, despite the unusual cicumstances of my own predicament, I am not alone.

People need their own comfort zone in order to be able to operate effectively in, and with this in mind I shouldn’t feel guilty in asking people to be accommodating at times.

It is difficult though. It is a particularly British trait to not want to make others go out of their way for you. It feels rude, and almost as though you’re unneccesarily taking advantage of other people’s kindness.

Although really it’s just a matter of levelling the playing field, and that’s really no bad thing at all.

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