I’m not sure how to write this without sounding insensitive or mocking. I assure you I’m not intentionally doing either. OH! I know! I’ll make this an informative learning post that way I can talk about this and not sound like a total dick (I’ll have to use scientific terms and shit to make this sound official).
Earlier this week, I received a phone call from a student that needed to check the status of her account. Following the normal procedures of verifying her identity, I was required to ask her a specific set of questions, specifically her to provide her student I.D., date of birth and name. While providing her identification number and date of birth, there were breaks in the information that at first I thought was a result of us having a bad connection. However when it came time for her to provide her name, it all became crystal clear.
ME: “Thank you so much for that information ma’am. And who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today?”
STUDENT: “My name is M-M-M-M-M-M-Mary S-S-S-S-S-S-Smith.”
I almost lost it.
Please understand, while the moment was somewhat amusing (ok it was fucking hilarious), this was the first time I’d actually ever spoken to anyone that stuttered. I mean I’ve heard people stammer in movies, but it’s a movie and my brain only registers the fact that it’s for the movie. This was the real deal, and it was epic! So epic in fact that it actually made me go out and do research on the disorder.
Stuttering; alalia syllabaris), also known as stammering; alalia literalis or anarthria literalis), (See! Scientific and shit!) is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases (No shit?) as well as involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the person who stutters is unable to produce sounds. The term stuttering is most commonly associated with involuntary sound repetition, but it also encompasses the abnormal hesitation or pausing before speech, referred to by people who stutter as blocks, and the prolongation of certain sounds, usually vowels and semivowels.
The disorder is also variable, which means that in certain situations, such as talking on the telephone (ding, ding), the stuttering might be more severe or less, depending on the anxiety level connected with that activity (she must have gotten really anxious by the sound of my smooth velvety voice). Although the exact etiology or cause of stuttering is unknown, both genetics and neurophysiology are thought to contribute.
Now all I need to do is meet someone with Tourettes. Hey, don’t judge me.