Do I Not Stutter Enough To Be Called A Stutterer?
Hold my stutter card
One of my fellow NSA Interns (National Stuttering Association, not national security), hit us up in the group chat talking about how he knows someone who is looking for participants for his stuttering research. I’ve been interested before, however, never committed. But because this was Danny I said why not.
And it does pay.
I hop on the phone with the coordinator and he gives me the rundown on what the project is, but then goes on to list what are the qualifications. My audio test would determine if I fall into either category:
Moderate: If average % of words stuttered is between 6% — 20%. This is considered as moderate stutter.
Severe: if average % of words stuttered is more than 20%. This is considered as severe stutter.
As he goes on to describe what this all means he makes the observation that I have not really stuttered so far and he has had to weed out those who do not actually stutter. I tell him honestly that I do stutter and he asks where/when I stutter the most and I tell him:
“Reading out loud, speeches, etc.”
But behind all of this it got me thinking:
Am I not as bad as a stutterer as I think I am?
The last time I was “tested” was probably when I was first diagnosed.
Since then, a lot of covert stuttering, suppression, and denial have made me feel like it isn’t as worse as it is.
It wasn’t until I met other stutterers at the age of 21 that perhaps I was better off.
While I never thought I was severe, when you are the only person you can compare yourself with, your perception is skewed. You can only compare yourself to fluent people. So of course I thought I was severe.
I have had friends come and go without ever knowing. Perhaps they didn’t know the word to what they were witnessing.
But I always thought I was doing better, but I also did not allow myself to freely stutter.
Being in the place and time where I am now, disclosing often, being more comfortable, surrounding myself with other stutterers, I feel different. I feel more fluent.
So when faced with a percentage and being unsure of where I lie, I was left with a scary yet possibly freeing feeling that maybe I am doing better.
Or perhaps today was just a better fluency day than others.