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If You Live With a Stammer, You Are in Good Company

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Marilyn MonroeTiger Woods and King George IV, to name a few, have lived with a stammer — so have no doubt, a stammer doesn’t stop you being the best. It takes a certain resourcefulness to scan ahead for words that might trip you up and have alternatives up your sleeve. A certain strength to read and deal with people’s reactions as you bite your tongue, distort your face and pray the wind doesn’t change.

There are days when it’s exhausting and frustrating and incredibly annoying not to be able to say what I want to say, when I want to say it. There are other days it’s not relevant, not a focus. I mean, you don’t think about the mechanics of speaking when it’s working as it should.

It has become increasingly important for me not to hide from or hide behind my stammer, not to be ashamed or embarrassed because other people are. I can’t control other people’s reactions to the way I talk, but I can control my own.

I helped to organize an open day for the British Stammering Association on Saturday. I woke up in the morning, not feeling the freshest, muttering, “Why do I sign myself up for these things? There’s other things I’d much rather be doing today.” They were mutterings stemmed from the nerves I had of my looming slot to introduce the day. Still, a fry-up seemed more appealing.

It was one of the best Saturdays I’ve had in a long time. The dedication of the speech and language therapists who gave up their weekend to provide information and support, plus the funny, articulate, brave and inspiring speakers who shared their experiences made me feel proud.

Through sharing experiences, advice and laughs from my life and others, I want to bring stammering and all that comes with it into the light. It’s a big part of my identity, a part I’m learning to respect. I want every person who stammers to have the belief and the ability to be the very best version of themselves.

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Thinkstock photo by etraveler

Originally published: March 23, 2017
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