If you stammer or stutter then only YOU know what life is like and what struggles and challenges you have to face. The Revival has spoken to a couple of people who stammer and talk about what life is like.
Jamal Ali, 35, Birmingham:
Here are my words of wisdom for everyone as I am an expert on stammering.
Basically stammerers are a section of society that are totally abandoned and left to suffer without any support and help. What they do not need are useless speech therapists who only serve the purpose of cementing the idea into the stammerers head that they have a problem.
Stammering is not a physical problem but a psychological one. The lower the self esteem of the stammerer the worst the stammer will be and the higher confidence and self esteem is, the less the intensity of the stammer.
So the last thing stammerers need is the whole family sitting around them and publicly humiliating them by saying 'oh he can't talk'. Every time they are introduced the first thing that comes out is that ‘he has a stammer’.
The main problem for stammerers is to get employment as obviously it helps if you can say your name at the interview. Job centres offer no help whatsoever to stammerers. Stammerers are not disabled but are able to do all jobs, the only hitch they have is with interviews.
Children develop a stammer if they are shouted at or beaten by parents or mosque teachers. The best way to help a child who starts stammering is to do nothing.
Ignore it and it will go away. Give them breathing lessons then they will realise that they have a problem and then whenever they speak they will know they will stammer. Speech therapy may help some adults cope better but it can’t get rid of stammering.
No matter how well a stammerer is educated or talented, because they cannot talk they are practically useless and cannot even get jobs that illegal immigrants do not even do.
I am a graduate and also have a master’s degree... I have been working in a factory for the last three years packing boxes. Thank you world!
Rayhaan Khan, 24, Manchester:
Since childhood I've had trouble getting my words out.
At worst I stuttered on every other word. It would sometimes take me up to 30 seconds to get a word out. I would gasp for breath as I spoke. I would squint my eyes. I would shake my head and squeeze my hands together. With all of this going on, it would take me a whole minute to put a few words together.
Over the years my stammering has defined my personality and my lack of aspirations. I responded to my stammering by withdrawing from the world. I would avoid conversations, social situations and particularly the telephone. I limited my vocabulary to 'yes', 'no' and the occasional 'OK'. All of this prevented me from developing meaningful relationships with members of my family, my friends, my colleagues and acquaintances.
Until about five years ago, I didn't know what it was like to say what you want to say.
I've been in a lot of therapy and I've done a lot of research into stammering. Over the last few years this has helped me to gain some control over my speech. I still stutter and always will. But, I've realised that everyone struggles through life - everyone has a cross to bear. My speech is what I struggle against. I know that the worst thing I can do is to let it hold me back from achieving and being successful.
Stammering is a genetic disorder. It's something I was born with and it's something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. My struggle with speech has dominated my life up to now, but I've decided that it will no longer be the only thing that defines me.
In conversation with a person who stammers
-Be patient. Most people who stammer strongly prefer to speak for themselves. You may be tempted to finish a person's sentences or 'fill in' words but this does not help.
-Remember that it is OK to stammer. Don't give advice such as: 'slow down', 'take a breath', or 'relax'. Maintain natural eye contact, listen, and wait patiently until the person has finished speaking.
-Be a good listener. Let the speaker know, by what you say and do, that you are listening. Try to actively convey a relaxed and accepting attitude as any obvious discomfort that you show will only increase the discomfort of the person who stammers. Focus on what the person is saying, not how they are saying it.
-Remember that stammering varies. People who stammer can have most difficulty when starting to speak and less difficulty once underway. Don't be surprised if a person stammers more in some situations than others. The telephone, speaking in front of a queue or in earshot of others can cause increased difficulties.
-Remember that stammering is not caused by nervousness. While a speaker may appear nervous, keep in mind that the nervousness is a result of embarrassment about their stammering rather than a cause of it.
-If you are not sure how to respond, ask the speaker - but always do this sensitively and in a way that leaves the speaker in control. This might involve asking an open question such as, "Is there anything I can do to make this easier for you?" Or, if someone is stammering severely, closed questions such as "Would you prefer to go somewhere quieter?" or "Would you prefer to write this down?"
Please note that the tone of these questions is very important. Bear in mind, too, that some speakers may be uncomfortable talking about their speech, but many would welcome your respectful interest.
Try to empower the person by offering a choice rather than imposing your solution. Always err on the side of being patient and giving the person the opportunity to speak for his/herself.