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The outback stutter

By David Butler Patient examples 24 Nov 2016

I have a slight stutter sometimes. Especially when a bit stressed. It was worse when I was a little boy living in outback Australia. My Mum drove me all the way to the big smoke (Brisbane) to see a paediatrician. I remember it well – the doctor was so nice, he asked me all these questions about my pet dog, my horse, my school, my friends. We spoke for ages and he seemed really interested in my life. At the end of all this he turned to my mother and said ‘Mrs Butler, there’s nothing wrong with your child – his speech is perfect’. I got outside the doctor’s surgery and my mum gave me a hell of a belting – ‘why didn’t you stutter like you do at home, you little bugger!’


So what was happening in the doctor’s office that so altered my brain construction of stammering? I would hazard a guess that novelty, distraction, the thrill of the long trip to Brisbane, the niceness of the doctor and the overall context would likely have played a part in allowing normal linguistic expression.


– David Butler



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  1. Hi David,
    Thank you for sharing something so very private and personal. A short story over flowing with knowledge and profound meaning. In today’s world, maybe we are loosing the art of linguistic expression, our thumbs being more apt to express than our tongues.
    A vital component of the interaction between patient and practitioner is to create an environment where linguistic expression can be freed. Without, clinical reasoning will be based on inadequate information.

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