Talk between people with and without speech or language problems can be uncertain and often awkward. Here are some suggestions (drawn from a variety of sources: www.nsastutter.org/material/indep.php?matid=189, www.aphasia.org/, http://spot.pcc.edu/~rjacobs/career/communication_tips.htm, and www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/comucate.htm) for making this talk more comfortable.
If you’re the person without a speech or language disorder, generally:
· Avoid finishing another’s sentences. Finishing the person’s sentences may communicate the idea that you’re impatient and don’t want to spend the extra time necessary to interact effectively.
· Avoid giving directions to the person with a speech disorder. Saying “slow down” or “relax” will often seem insulting and will make further communication more difficult.
· Maintain eye contact. Show interest and at the same time avoid showing any signs of impatience or embarrassment.
· Ask for clarification as needed. If you don’t understand what the person said, ask him or her to repeat it. Don’t pretend that you understand when you don’t.
· Don’t treat people who have language problems like children. A person with aphasia, say, who has difficulty with names or nouns generally, is in no way childlike. Similarly, a person who stutters is not a slow thinker; in fact, stutterers differ from non-stutterers only in their oral fluency.
If you’re the person with a speech or language disorder, generally:
· Let the other person know what your special needs are. If you stutter, you might tell others that you have difficulty with certain sounds and so they need to be patient.
· Demonstrate your own comfort. Show that you have a positive attitude toward the interpersonal situation. If you appear comfortable and positive, others will also.
· Be patient. For example, have patience with those who try to finish your sentences; They’re likely just trying to be helpful.