Living with a stammer

Speaking is such a simple thing.

We do it every day without thinking.

Or most people do it without thinking and if you’re one of those people you probably don’t realise how much thinking it can take other people just to say their own name.

But, I’ve grown up with a stammer.

Now that I’m 20-years-old, it’s not severe and most people say they barely notice it, and I don’t have many issues anymore.

Although, when I was in school this wasn’t the case.

I would sit in dread as the register was being taken, practising the words “yes miss” in my head until my name was called out.

Worry would build up about whether I would stammer this time or not.

What would be worse was when the teacher calls my name out twice and the class would turn round to look at me wondering why I wasn’t saying anything.

I was never bullied in school for my stammer but I would get people staring at me confused, or if I’m out shopping staff would be trying not to smirk and sometimes this can still make you feel just as bad.

I know they don’t mean to laugh but it doesn’t mean I don’t care.

Once I was 13, I started to become more confident about it and if any comment was made I would just tell the person in question that I have a stammer.

I remember specifically in a year 8 English lesson we were reading a book round the table in groups and the boy opposite was laughing when it was my turn, it didn’t upset me, it was more that it angered me that people can be so inconsiderate of other people’s feelings.

I remember telling him “I have a stammer, just to let you know.” He went silent after that.

He probably doesn’t remember this small interaction but being confident in your stammer is a very difficult thing to do, so at 13 years old, it meant a lot to me.

Now, my stammer isn’t really an issue.

Usually if I’m with my closest friends, my family or my boyfriend my speech is almost 100% fluent, I’m so relaxed I don’t need to think about it.

It’s only when there’s pressure coming from somewhere that I may need to prepare in some sort of way.

It’s difficult if I’m in a group of people who interrupt each other or they’re speaking so quickly I barely even have time to process what they’re saying, let alone have enough time to reply.

These are times when my stammer can get particularly bad because I’m trying to process and think three times as fast as I usually would which puts me under a lot of pressure.

Moreover, one of the things I was taught at speech therapy was to wait for someone else to finish before you speak as I wouldn’t want someone interrupting me.

Interrupting someone who stammers is one of the worst things, you may think you’re doing them a favour by guessing what they’ll say and by not making them talk but it really doesn’t feel very good for the person themselves.

Everyone has a voice, so let them be heard, no matter how long it takes them to finish!

About the Author
Natasha is a Philosophy student at Leeds University and a Jewish News intern
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