"Time with Tasneem" -

I have heard many PWS verbalize their fears regarding the writing crutch, citing reasons such as they feel silly or they do not always have a pen and paper around for them to write on. I am going to give you some tips on how to feel less “silly” about using the crutch. All of these have been tried and tested by me and not once was I left feeling humiliated, stupid or embarrassed. This crutch works really well when you have to say specifics.

(1) Write on your mobile phone – This seems a bit tricky, but it is one of the best uses of the writing crutch because almost everyone has a mobile phone near them at all times. How does one suddenly start writing on a phone mid-sentence? Well here are a few examples:

  a) Hey what is your favorite food? Oh, I absolutely LOVE this, let me show you a picture. I then googled “beef ribs” (because this is the word I was fearing at the time) and showed the person the phone. I could then read out “beef ribs” in a different voice register, or just let them read it on their own without me saying anything.

This is not strange. Nobody has ever asked me why I googled the word. If anything, the responses have ranged from “yummy, that looks so good” or “ohhh I love that too”. The last thing on the person’s mind is why I googled a picture of beef ribs. It actually adds so much more to the conversation and most of the time it leads to a more interesting topic.

  b) What area do you live in? Oh, I actually live in the very far south of South Africa, I am not sure if you have heard of it. I then google “Bassonia” (the feared word) on my phone and show it to the person. Again, nobody has ever mentioned that they thought this was odd. Responses ranged from “Oh, I do not know where that is/I have never heard of it” to “Oh yes I know where that is, I love that area”.

You get the point, this can work for “what is your favorite band”, to “what perfume are you wearing”, “what school do you go to”, “what is your last name”. If anybody DOES think it is weird, they won’t say anything – and the best part is that you will not stutter and form a humiliating stuttering memory.

(2) Write on a note pad (this works well when you are at work as keeping a notepad around you is not strange at all).

This happened to me at work some time ago – a friend of mine asked me what was discussed in a meeting that I had attended. For some reason, I felt a stutter coming along. I grabbed my note pad and drew a pie. I then divided the pie and in one side I wrote “40 percent” together with an “X” and in the other side I wrote “60 percent” together with a “tick”. Having the pie for my colleague to look at took the pressure off of my words. I then said “60 percent of the team agreed with me and 40 percent did not agree with me” while I pointed to each side of the pie. My colleague and I both started laughing at the same time as she asked me why I drew the pie when I could have just said that. I just said “I actually have no idea”. We laughed and actually bonded a bit over that.

Basically, if you can just get creative with the writing crutch, it does not only have to be the act of writing the word you want to say. Sure, that will definitely get you out of some sticky situations. The key is to have fun with it and not to place so much pressure on yourself to come across as a perfect speaker. It humanizes you and people are always drawn to the “different” person in the crowd. I still sometimes google things instead of just saying it to people, it adds a bit of excitement to my stories. And instead of wallowing in the fact that I had a humiliating experience that day, I can rather smile about the fact that I avoided a stutter and made a new friend in the process!