The second episode of a three-part series about living with disabilities by filmmaker James Robinson features the story of John Hendrickson, a talented professional writer who stutters. This powerful short documentary looks at what stuttering is, how it needs to be understood, and how it has affected Hendrickson’s life. Hendrickson, who is a Senior Editor at The Atlantic, explains the daily challenges he faces around his stuttering.
John has a curious relationship with language. As a journalist and author, he writes words for a living. But he also has a stutter and struggles to say them out loud. While most people who stutter as children grow out of it, John is part of the 20 percent who continue stuttering into adulthood. And there’s no real cure. For John, no amount of therapy, exercises, or hypnosis has done the trick.
Robinson also conducts an imaginary experiment using creative editing that lets Hendrickson speak without his stutter. Robinson further notes that patience is the key to understanding those who stutter.
We now know that anxiety isn’t the cause of stuttering. It’s a neurological condition with a complex genetic component. But anxiety can still trigger a stutter. So showing your own impatience, guessing the end of a sentence or interrupting and telling John to relax, can actually cause a stutter to intensify.