This morning Lorraine informed me that the 22nd October is ‘Stammer Awareness Day’. I felt two things when she told me this. Saddened that I had no idea that something that has such an impact on my life has an awareness day. And happy that she thought to tell me so I could write this and explain a bit about stammers to you all.
When people think of stammers they usually think of that kid from Educating Yorkshire, you know the one who can’t get a sentence out without listening to music and then at the end he does a big speech and everyone cries? That one.
Unfortunately for me, my stammer isn’t anything like that. I manage to get sentences out most of the time, it’s just odd words that I struggle on. People don’t cry when I manage to say my own second name, they roll their eyes and ask ‘if that was a remix’ or another lame joke around the same lines. Most people are kind and understanding, but people who don’t know me well are the worst. It really hurts a stutterers’ feelings.
When I was little, I had speech therapy. It didn’t work, so when I was 10 I went back. Again. No luck. I finally went back when I was a 16 and about to take my Drama GCSE, my teacher sent me because I couldn’t do scripted work because I couldn’t get the words out. They told me at the final speech therapist that there’s nothing they can do. It’s just how my brain works, my mind works quicker than my mouth. It’s how I’ve always been and always will be. So I may as well try and be confident with it.
From that day onwards I’ve not been ashamed. I’ve told people before I start talking to them properly about my speech problems and most people understand and let me take my time. The ones who don’t, just aren’t worth it. I got an A* in that GCSE, despite the fact I couldn’t do scripted work as well as everyone else.
I feel like although my speech can hold me back at some points, I have come quite far. At the autism show, I spoke in front of a lot of people and didn’t cry when I couldn’t say what I wanted to.
This is something that a year ago wouldn’t have happened. I used to cry every time. With frustration and embarrassment. Thanks to The Chewigem team I did it. And if I could I’d put that on my CV. ‘Managed to speak in front of a crowd, whilst stammering without crying.’ because in my eyes, and my family’s eyes, it’s one of the most impressive things I’ve ever done. Thinking back on it, it’s one of my proudest moments. It’s a pity that employers probably wouldn’t think so.
Stammer Awareness Day is something that I shall hold close to my heart for the rest of my life now I know that it exists. Maybe if it was around when I was a kid it wouldn’t have taken me almost 23 years to feel unashamed when I can’t get my words out.
I know every awareness day is important. But this one is especially important to me. It makes me feel better knowing that there’s a day out there to stop people from making insensitive jokes and comments. Education is important with Stammers, but patience is the main thing. If we can’t get our words out, just wait. They’ll come.
If we need you to talk for us we will let you know. Please don’t talk for us without being asked. And thank you to everyone who watches my videos or has conversations with me for being patient and sticking with me.
Happy Stammer Awareness day!