Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 5: The Printer Theory

How can you compare Stuttering to a printer? How can people understand a stutter if they haven’t got one themselves? How can learning about a stutter help treat it? I hope to answer these questions in today’s blog all about a Stuttering Theory I created myself.

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be the fifth blog in the Stuttering in Mainstream Media series and is going to be about The Printer Theory, a theory that I myself created to help visualise what living with a stutter is actually like. The theory itself can be interpreted in a number of different ways so if you interpret it a different way to how I am saying it that is more than fine.

I created The Printer Theory when I was asked to describe what living with a stutter is like to a few of my University friends this year. I had rarely been asked what living with a stutter was like before going to university so I didn’t have an answer ready at the time. This is when I decided to improvise and came up with The Printer Theory. Even though the theory doesn’t cover all aspects of life with a stutter I still think that it is a good place to start.

The first part of The Printer Theory is about the type of stutter where you just cannot get the words out, no matter how hard you try. So let’s say you have a document on the computer that you want to print out. You do all the normal things such as going to options, selecting print and then waiting for the printer to print the document out. Your document starts printing and then you get a paper jam in the printer.

If you have a paper jam then sending another twenty documents to the printer will not do anything, it will just put more pressure on the CPU of the computer and will affect the interrupts happening to the computer which will slow it down. Sending more documents to the computer will do nothing to help the actual problem which is the paper jam. This can easily be related to having a conversation with a person who has a stutter. If they are stuck on a particular word then asking them 20 more questions will do nothing to help them, it will just stress them out and might even lead to them stuttering more.

To fix a paper jam in the printer you would slowly find out the problem and then try a few ways to resolve it. Forcing the paper out when you have a paper jam will not help the issue, this is the exact same as dealing with a stutter. If someone who you are having a conversation with gets stuck on a word then you definitely should not try to force them to speak, they are trying they just cannot get the words out. What you need to do is simple.

The first step to helping someone who cannot get the words out is to actually realise that they are stuck on a word. If you recognise that someone is struggling then it makes it easier for you to understand and easier for them to get over it. The next step is to try a few different solutions. The first solution I recommend is maybe rewording the question that you asked them. Usually, if a person is simply stuck on one word then if you reword the question they will not even have to try and say it. There are lots of other techniques you can try if this doesn’t work but the key is to be patient, do not rush someone with a stutter as that will help no one.

One of the next links that a stutter has to a printer is when it comes to the order of entities. When you print something out, it is printed in a set order, this is the exact same as the way we speak. If the pages were printed in a random order then we would have to spend a lot of time simply working out the order of the pages and then what they are actually trying to tell us, this works the same with how we speak. We form sentences in a way that they are easy to understand and our words are in a logical order.

Just because a printer may take a long time to print out a particular page, it doesn’t mean that you write it out to try to beat the printer. If a printer was taking a while to print something out then you would wait patiently until it was finished, this links perfectly with a stutter. If a person is taking a while to say a particular word, sentence it does not give you the right to try and speak for them or just rush them into finishing. Rushing someone to speak when they have a stutter severely lowers their self-confidence and leads them to feel more embarrassed when they do eventually stutter.

This links in well to one of the main problems I have when speaking to people when they know that I have a stutter. Most people who do not have a stutter or who haven’t been close to someone who has a stutter think that finishing sentences for people who are struggling helps them out, it actually makes us feel useless. What people don’t actually think about, and this is not a criticism to people, it is just a fact, is that when we are stuttering we are trying really hard to get the words out. If you just jump in and finish the sentence for them, even if you do it with good intentions, then it makes us feel worthless. This paragraph is not meant to be having a go at anyone it is simply explaining something that most people don’t usually think of.

As you can see from the blog above there are lots of different links you can make between a printer and a person who stutters. There are indeed a lot more links that you can find but I have explained the main ones that I wanted to talk about in this blog. If you do find anymore and want to talk them through feel free to send me a message, I’ll more than happily respond!

Thanks for reading today’s blog! What do you all think? Next time you speak to someone with a stutter try and use a few of the points that I made today. Don’t rush them, be patient and please don’t finish sentences for them. I hope you all have a great week and remember to keep Highlighting the I in Difference!

Thanks again for reading and for all of the support,

Sweeney’s Blogs

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