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I was asked to give a motivational [their word – not mine] talk to a local group, these people all have real bad stammers and it was enlightening. Thing is, up to the age of 13, I was the voice of thanks for the mayor of my town (must have been my angelic looks :) then one day I found I had the words worst stammer. I can’t emphasise the problems is causes, it can totally ruin your life as you can’t respond to others the way you would like. Without going into too much detail it just holds you back as you struggle with interviews, meeting people and just existing in a world were social interaction means so much. School is a nightmare and kids aren’t the most understanding of people, it just makes you look stupid. Now the people I met yesterday varied from the chronic to the machine gun effect were they just repeat the same words over and over.
What’s this got to do with computers? Well nearly all of the people there use the net to converse, they ‘talk’ online to others who have no idea that they have a stammer, they have the confidence to hold a conversation as no one knows they have a disability. This is good, it’s a link to the world they didn’t have before. Most of them use online banking for setting up direct debits etc: they mail issues they have with companies and they have now found that they don’t need to use the telephone anymore. They feel they have been liberated by the net. The best thing they thought was the emergence of a system that is about to come online – they will be able to order takeaway food via the net. I could see the happiness in their faces at the thought of being able to order a takeaway for the first time but I thought [and said] that although this is a fantastic thing to have it won’t help them in the long run as they will still have a stammer and they need to meet real people.
This was met with various replies, some were quite happy staying online and shunning the world as they felt that they would only be ridiculed and others felt that they didn’t have a choice; it’s the only way they have to communicate. This got me thinking, I have 3 kids, two of them teenagers and one who spends most of his life with a visor on his head playing online games with people all over the world. His social interaction skills are abysmal [teenage grunts are the best we get out of him] but online he is someone else. He has two lives – however he has a choice that the group feel they don’t have. When does the net change from being a communication tool to a blanket?
quote His social interaction skills are abysmal [teenage grunts are the best we get out of him]
Sounds like the the normal teeager to me.
(father of two grunters)
I agree, the net is a great boon for the disabled as it allows them to be heard without being subjected to prejudice. It does also allow many disabled people to shun society altogether (as society shuns them), but I'm not sure this is such a good thing. In saying this, however, it is up to the individual and if it improves their quality of life, that is a very very good thing.
The web can be a superb equalizer.
I know of several disabled people who communicate with an entire network of friends around the world via the web, some with the aid of webcams and others just by typing or a combination of type and microphone.
On the one hand I've heard it said that some people are deceptive in their portrayal of self image online, while at the other end of the scale there are a lot of peole who, for one reason or another find it far simpler, more efficient, more desirable or whatever to use the web in this way.
One of my closest friends lives in Canada. She's divorced with 4 kids (one seriously physically disabled) and without the web to arrange regular deliveries of household shopping, to communicate with the outside world in general and to gather contracts of work through her website she'd be completely lost. In the rural area where she lives life would be almost impossible and I think she would have to move were it not for an ADSL link to the outside world.
I often talk to friends via a webcam or microphone. I also often use Windows XP Remote Assistance to log into some of my friends computers and using it and a microphone combined I can instruct them in all kinds of everything. My Canadian friend and one of her daughters is a prime example. When her daughter wanted to learn Visual Basic programing, which was being covered in brief at school, I spent many hours linked directly to her computer walking through code examples and descibing verbally what we were doing and why. As a learning aid it was superb and I use the same methods now for many clients and friends.
The web is not a be-all-and-end-all, but it does a lot of good for a lot of people, depite what the media would have us all think to the contrary.
It is not only those who have a speech impediment that the net helps. I suffer from deafness in both ears and even with the assistance of two hearing aids I often find understanding a conversation difficult.
I hear parts of words and have to guess what the person speaking said. For example, I may hear "..ore" and have to guess whether or not they meant core, door, floor, more, sore, tore or even evermore.
If you want to know how difficult it is to decide what people are saying in real time then turn on the subtitles on tv when they are showing a live discussion. The gibberish which sometimes appears is similar to what I hear.
In my case a telephone is a nightmare, I can never be sure that what I think they are saying is what they actually said. Even worse, if I answer a question on the telephone I can never be certain that the question I am answering is the question that I was actually asked.
For me, and people like me, the web is a great help so please don't knock it too hard.
I know what it's like to stammer, what it's like to try and get words but not being able to because it seems like there's some invisible barrier stopping you. I know what it's like to be laughed at, ridiculed, treated as reject etc...
by now you've probably guessed that i'm a stammerer too!
i remember at school my teacher always picking on me to read out aloud in school even though she knew i hated it! People laughing at me when i did presentations. I used to dread giving them. Every year i used to look through all the course work guides to see if there were any presentations to do, and dreaded the day if there were any.
However, i realised that i had to overcome them, as (in a way) my future depended on them. Now i've finished my 6yr haul at uni, i'm having to give presentation at almost every interview! I used to be really bad, not be able to get a word out edgeways! Remember in Total Recall (arnie film) when he's dressed a woman trying to get through the checkout gate, and he's trying to say a word but can't, and the face is doing oral gymnastics? well that's what i used to be like!
I've overcome that serious stage now, but i do tend to stammer a lot when i'm nervous.
Having chosen a career in IT i feel that maybe my actions will speak louder than my words? i'm not sure.
One thing i am sure of is that it's all a matter of confidence! i've seen so many therapists, but it all boils down to that one thing. I've gotten my confidence by looking back at myself and tying to see why it is that people laugh, why is it so funny? and at times when i do stammer now, and i can see my mates know what i'm trying to say and try holding back saying it for me that i just have to laugh.
My friends class me as a funny outgoing nutter type. I do find it easy to talk to people online. However, when in person (once i've broken the ice) you just can't shut me up!
when i fill in application forms i never put my stammer down as a disability, i never mention it.
I have thought on occasions though whether it would be in my benefit to. Still not sure on that one.
If we were ever together then I would understand you perfectly. Your repeating words or part of words would be of great assistance to me and give me time to figure out what you are saying :-))
Mysticnas. Don't call it a disability but rather a problem which you are overcoming. If you are going for an interview for a job then most companies appreciate a problem solver.
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