What makes you stutter?

Everyone is different. Your best friend may be better at math than you are. And maybe you're better than he is at art. Maybe another one of your friends is good at sports and can run really fast. Everyone is good at different things.

Your arm muscles are working when you paint a picture. They mix up the colors of the paint. They tell your hand where to paint on the paper. They move the paintbrush around. Pretty soon, you have a really pretty painting. Maybe you painted a good picture on Monday. But on Friday when you go to art, you just can't paint a good picture at all. Nothing seems to go right no matter how many times you start over. Your arm muscles might be having a hard time telling the paintbrush where to go. It is no big deal. Everyone's body works differently on different days.

Now let's talk about math. Maybe your teacher gave you a really hard worksheet. You notice your best friend is already done with the worksheet and you're only halfway through. You might get nervous because you want to do it right. Things can get harder when you are nervous about them, especially if you're being extra careful to do them right. People who are good at math don't get as nervous about doing it right. They are not as afraid of making any mistakes. That's just like you not being nervous about painting a good picture. If you think math is hard, you might get especially nervous when your teacher passes out a hard worksheet.

It can be the same with talking. Maybe it's hard for you to talk but easy for your friends. Your talking might be easy on some days. On other days, your talking might be hard.

If you get nervous about stuttering and you have to read aloud in class, it can make talking harder. You might even get mad at yourself and shut your eyes, or press hard, or make a face. Some kids who are scared of stuttering may not talk at all. That's just like getting so scared about doing your math right that you won't even try to do it. Some kids who stutter don't talk on the phone. Some won't tell a story. Some kids even mix up their words because it makes talking easier.

Stuttering can feel like a big deal if you don't talk when you want or if you don't say the words you want. If this happens to you sometimes, try to just let the stuttering happen. Don't try to stop it or hide it. Remember that stuttering can be like homework. Even when you're nervous or scared about being right, it's always better for you to do your homework than skip it. You will feel less nervous and just might do better on your work. Talking can be the same way. If you let yourself stutter, you'll probably feel better.

Adapted excerpt from Sometimes I Just Stutter by Eelco de Geus.

(C) Copyright Stuttering Foundation of America.