Stuttering nothing to laugh at, students told

For Erik Gustafson and Jonas Watson, giving a presentation in front of their class is their worst nightmare.
But these two students faced their fears Tuesday as they explained to a Grade 7 class at Robert Moore School what it feels like to stutter.
“I was nervous at first ’cuz it’s my friends and I’m embarrassed to stutter,” Watson, 13, said after the presentation. “I don’t like talking about it but it really wasn’t so bad.”
“I was really nervous,” added Gustafson, 11.
Both get help from local speech-language pathologist Lindsay Strickland to cope with stuttering.
Strickland explained to the students that stuttering is when people have difficulty forming words because they almost get caught in their throat due to tension in the voice box or throat.
“It’s like someone stepping on a hose when you’re trying to water the garden,” she noted.
One in every 100 people stutter and Strickland, with the help of her two assistants, was trying to make students more sensitive to others.
“What I want them to take with them is that people who stutter are no different from people who don’t stutter, they just have a hard time saying some things,” she stressed.
Students played a mock “Jeopardy” game and watched video clips with characters who stuttered.
They were asked to describe those characters and when comparing lists, the students discovered that in the movies stuttering is portrayed in a negative light as something to laugh at.
“The movies don’t do a great job of showing what people who stutter are like,” Strickland told the class.
“It’s hard to make friends when you stutter, good friends anyway ’cuz people laugh at you and make fun of you,” Watson explained later.
He said he hoped his classmates understand that stuttering is nothing to laugh at.
“I would teach them that it’s hard and that it’s kind of embarrassing,” added Gustafson.
Strickland said she was pleased students were so eager to learn more about stuttering, and hoped the presentation made an impact on them.
“It’s national stuttering awareness week and I want students to become advocates of people who stutter and be considerate of people who stutter,” she remarked.