By Craig Coleman
By now, many people have seen the opening segment of the Super Bowl (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EP0ALpfJons) featuring Peyton Manning. In the segment, Manning says “Was I stuttering before?” to emphasize an earlier point that he made to his colleagues sitting around a conference table.
First, let me begin by saying I don’t think Peyton Manning was being intentionally hurtful. Manning himself was born with a cleft palate (http://www.carolinapeds.com/2014/09/peyton-manning/) and has done a lot of work to raise money for children in need.
The phrase “Did I Stutter?” has seemingly been around forever in some form. When you think about it, it’s fascinating to dig a little deeper into why it has been used as a punchline when others are not understanding or the lines of communication have broken down. “Did I stutter?” Why have people used that line? In fact, when people do stutter, others can still understand them. It might just take a little longer for the message to come out.
Unfortunately, the phrase perpetuates many of the myths that have surrounded stuttering:
These all rank high on the “fake news” scale, and it is important to help people understand what stuttering is:
So, what is the problem with saying “Did I stutter?” Really, there is none. The problem is that there needs to be a follow-up response with “Yes, you did. And I was still able to understand you. It’s ok to stutter. Please continue talking and tell me what you want to say. I’m listening.”
Maybe can hope for that in next year’s Super Bowl!
I encourage anyone who wants to learn about the experiences of people who stutter to watch Stuttering: Part of Me (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtWxqQCC3Ew).
To get more information on stuttering:
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Craig Coleman, M.A., CCC-SLP, BCS-F (Editor)