Trauma leaves a mark. The feeling of being ‘different’ or being thought of as such, always leaves a mark. Multiple studies prove that children who stutter are at a higher risk of bullying, social exclusion, and negative perception of self. Such traumatic experiences leave their scars. As adults who continue to stutter or who have recovered from their disfluency, those early rejections and emotional violence colors their understanding of themselves and the world around them.
‘Black Sheep’ of the family
People who stutter have a genetic pre-disposition towards it or other speech defects. Children born to a parent who stutters have a better understanding of their condition and how to deal with it. However, for parents who don’t, the experience of raising a child who stutters can be challenging or frustrating. The condition is certainly not something that can be remedied by stern force or intimidation. Neither do children who stutter respond well to parents who though compassionate, don’t quite know what to do or how to address it. In either case, the feeling of being ‘different’ or needing to be ‘fixed’ persists.
Distorted Sense of Self
As humans, we are heavily dependent on language and speech to communicate, to form bonds, to develop our own identity. With speech impediments like stuttering come a sense of shame at the inability to communicate or explain oneself adequately. Along with a fear of judgement and rejection. Some studies suggest that adults who stutter have internalized the negativity, the disrespect and have begun to expect and accept it. When bad and rude behavior goes unchecked because one has learnt to live it, trouble isn’t far behind.
Compromised Personal Relationships
A negative perception of self adversely affects one’s relationships with friends, family, peers, even intimate and romantic partners. The fear of rejection amongst people who stutter has pervasively effects on their self-confidence which inadvertently affects their relationships. Moreover, misinformation or lack of information can create misleading stereotypes that people who stutter constantly chafe against.
Mental Health Issues
The emotional and psychological strain that dealing with their disfluency puts on people who stutter makes them prone to depression and social anxiety. The damaging assumption that stuttering is a symptom of mental instability is wrong. The emotional fatigue, low self-confidence and social functioning is rather a product of such destructive and misguided profiling of people with speech defects.
Silver Lining of the Cloud
Having dealt with dismissive or obstructive behavior from a young age, people who stutter are extremely empathetic towards those who feel themselves to be marginalized. It is their compassionate ability to pay attention to everyone’s needs and abilities that makes people who stutter loyal and resilient friends and partners.
Each and every one of us is a myriad number of things, has varying ambitions, interests, reactions and emotions. How terrible to be defined or let our lives be defined by a singular label?! For that label, the past, or someone’s misinformed opinion dictate our present and misshape our future.