Everybody stutters, everybody stumbles over their own words now and again, it’s normal. To the majority of people, stuttering is a rare occasion which usually happens when one is feeling over-emotional, however, for 1% of the population, it’s something dealt with each and every day.
15 Year Old Charlie Dow from Moffat spoke to DGWGO about life with a stutter in an honest and emotional interview, Charlie said “I’m your average teenager; I like rock music, video games and talking on the internet. However, I’m different from everyone that I know that are my own age in one way: I have a stutter. I’ve stuttered ever since I was nine, I’m fifteen now, and every day it was getting worse and worse.
Whenever you see somebody who stutters, you only see the tip of the iceberg. Underneath all of the speech blocks, tricks and laughs are emotions such as self-hate, embarrassment, and fear. I was avoiding every speaking situation I could, I swapped words so I could never say what I wanted to in fear of stuttering, I was too scared of messing up my speech to even make any friends. I couldn’t even say my own name. It was hell for me.”
Charlie continued “I remember that in my first year of high school, there was an oral test for French. My stutter was already bad enough in English but in an unfamiliar language? It was absolutely terrible. I remember spending two minutes on the first sentence before my teacher told me to sit down and I had to take the walk of shame with the glares of my peers following me across the room. Then there are all the talks required in English class. Whenever I tried, I always walked out without a word. School as a stutterer, in general, was hard for me. I could never ask for help in class, I could never ask for my own lunch and I could never be social with my classmates. It was honestly the worst.
My mum has always been supportive and has always helped me, so when my speech impediment became more noticeable, she booked me in for NHS speech therapy for which I attended for four or five years. My speech therapist was really helpful and friendly, however, when it seemed like we were making any progress by tricking my stutter, it came back worse than before and all of a sudden, we were back at square one. This is when the McGuire Programme was introduced to me.”
Charlie also said “If you cast your mind back to the beginning of 2018, you may have seen a documentary on ITV called “School for Stammerers”. I remember watching this documentary, seeing how others with a stutter overcame it through this programme. I immediately got my parents to apply me, and after saving up the money, I went on my first course in Stirling last November.
The first night was the hardest, I had to have an interview in front of a lot of people, and by the end, I was shaking, but happy I managed to do it. Over the next few days, from 8 in the morning to 10 at night, I was in a hotel function room, sitting straight with my hands over my ribs, working on my breathing and speech. It was hard, tiring work but extremely effective. It all culminated into going out into the streets of Stirling and talking to 100 strangers.
It was cold and rainy and mum forced about a dozen layers on me, you know how mums are, and me and my coach went out to talk to some strangers. At first, it was scary; I was frightened every time I asked somebody for the time, but it got better. Eventually, I started to disclose my stutter to people, and everybody was really supportive and I began to have fun, using my speech as a sport and no longer viewing it as a hindrance.
This mindset evolved over the last few days of the course, and it’s still evolving to this day as I work on my speech. The McGuire Programme has done so much for me and I am extremely grateful. I decided to write this article because this 22nd of October, it is an international stammering awareness day, and I wanted to get my story out there. To show to the world that despite this speech impediment I can still work hard to be an articulate speaker, and to show to anybody with a stutter, that you can be one too.”
If you or anybody you know stutters, please don’t be afraid to get in touch with the McGuire Programme on their website and overcome your stutter once and for all.