|At about 1:30am, Nenad Rendic is armed with his wake-up call device, his mobile phone.
While most people are sleeping during the wee hours of the morning, Nenad Rendic is immersed in conversation online with his fellow stutterers. Every Sunday at 2am, Rendic, a 71-year-old retired navy merchant and person who stutters from Split, Croatia, gives himself a wake up call so he can join the Stutter Social hangout held during that time.
During those early morning hangout days, Rendic sets his alarm on his mobile phone so he’ll wake up on time. In addition to Sunday, that also means 2:30am on Tuesday and 4am on Wednesday.
Despite the time, he feels “very well when participating.” “I’ve never talked to fellow stutterers as much before,” he says.
Rendic first heard about Stutter Social in February from Shorn Jacob, a fellow participant from New Zealand, when they were chatting via Skype. “Since then, I’ve been in every hangout,” he says.
In the past few months, he says he learned a lot from them. “I’ve learned that people who stutter are in many different professions. (In the hangout), there are often theatre actors and people on the radio.”
For Rendic, there are two things in particular that he gets out of participating in Stutter Social four times a week: improving his speech and refining his English.
As a young man, Rendic was in the Croatian merchant navy, where he served as a navigation officer on board cargo ships. During that time, he notes, he was a severe stutterer and had a fear of speaking.
“I used to write things down on a sheet of paper instead of talking,” he recalls. “Since there was no nautical school in Split, I had to attend school in Dubrovnik, where I had to travel by passenger ship. When getting my ticket, I had to use a pencil to write down the destination because I could not pronounce it.”
However, his attitudes changed when he went for speech therapy and began practicing his speech daily. “I’ve been practicing speaking to myself two hours a day and after that, practicing half an hour reading (aloud). I realized I could speak to more people.”
Now, after three years of practice and months of participating in Stutter Social, his efforts seem to have paid off. “I speak a lot better than I did three years ago,” he says, adding that he even cracks jokes from time to time.