Sometimes I Just Stutter: For Your Brothers and Sisters

This is an excerpt from the popular book Sometimes I Just Stutter by Eelco de Geus

Dear Brother or Sister,

I have written this little book for your brother or sister who stutters. Of course you know very well that they stutter. You may have wanted to help when they had trouble talking. What you did or said sometimes made the talking easier and sometimes it did not. Why is that? Your brother or sister has less trouble talking when they feel calm inside. You have probably recognized this. If you have to say something in a large group, you may feel excited or a bit afraid, and it may be hard to find the right words all at once.

You are lucky enough not to stutter in such a situation. Your brother’s or sister’s speech is more easily disrupted by excitement, worry, or time pressures, and then they often stutter. A lot of things can make you excited or worried…

• An upcoming birthday party.

• School reports that are due.

• The family is about to pack up for vacation.

• Worry/anxiousness about not being good enough at...you name it!

• Feeling sick.

• Being in a hurry.

• Thinking other children don’t like you.

• Being afraid of making mistakes.

These are things that can make all of us excited or worried, and then we feel tension inside. But not everybody lets on about these inner tensions. The trouble is that tension always shows up with stuttering. Everybody notices it.

And because your brother or sister doesn’t want it to be noticed, they will try to stop the stuttering or hide it as best they can. And you know what happens next? They will get more uptight and...the stuttering will get worse. It is quite normal to be excited or worried and uptight. It happens to all of us, to you and to me. But we don’t like to admit it. We often think we should naturally be good at everything we do. It stands to reason nobody can be good at EVERYTHING! But all the same, people don’t like making mistakes and that makes them uptight when they have to do something difficult.

Because talking is easy for almost everybody, it is hard to believe that some children have serious trouble talking. As soon as there is some tension around, having to talk makes them stutter. You have to do things that make you uptight too, so what’s wrong with getting uptight about talking?

If you accept stuttering as something that is perfectly OK with you, your brother or sister will not feel criticized or set apart, the level of tension will drop, and they will not try to hide or stop the stuttering. And that will make talking a lot easier. It is most helpful for them to feel you have some idea of the problem. Thank you for helping in this way.