31st August 2022
Martin Scott explains how he used his experience of coaching football to write a children's book to show others that you can be a coach with a stammer. Plus, read a review from a speech & language therapist.
I've always liked the idea of writing a book. I've often had ideas of what I'd write about but never actually sat down to do it. Then when my daughter Jemima came along I assumed that chance was long gone.
I think back to the difficult times I had as a young football coach — the annoying lack of awareness on the issue, and the whole "Let's go around the room and tell everyone about ourselves", which is uncomfortable for most but more so for someone with a stammer. This was not even thought about and the anxiety it caused would make me feel ill.
It made me think how many others had been put off because of their stammer and felt coaching was something they just couldn't do?
I always wanted to raise awareness to help not just football coaches, but everyone who is put in these situations. I explored ways of trying tell my story and spread awareness but I struggled to find the right outlet. I did research into other sports around the area, i.e. rugby, basketball and cricket, as well as local county FAs (football associations). I asked them if they had ever come across a coach with a stammer. Shockingly, not one said yes.
It made me think how many others had been put off because of their stammer and felt coaching was something they just couldn't do? I thought if I could share my experiences it might show others it can be done whilst also highlighting the issues we face on our journey. But how to get the story out?
Getting a chance to write
Welcome to the 3am club! Parents of newborns will know this club well as it’s about the time when baby wakes for a feed. This can last from 6 months to a year, but our club stayed open long after that! It was so long that I decided that instead of getting up and down all night, I would sit on the landing until the little one finally dropped off to sleep. This is when I started my writing.
I first started writing funny stories that I thought of in my sleep deprived state, but then I had the idea of turning some of my life experiences into a book that children could understand. Before I knew it I had gone through pages; hours had gone by and Jemima was well asleep! This went on for a while and every night I'd write a little bit more until I had a few stories written out.
...Maybe, as a new dad, I wanted my daughter to live in a world where all types of people are celebrated, no matter how they talk.
I'm not sure why but writing in a child's format allowed me to get my message out more easily. My thoughts flowed when I wrote for younger people — maybe I thought they would be more open-minded or accepting of my stories. Maybe I wanted to influence the next generation to think differently about what they could achieve. Or maybe, as a new dad, I wanted my daughter to live in a world where all types of people are celebrated, no matter how they talk.
After showing the stories to my wife, a primary school teacher, and my mother-in-law, a former primary school teacher, they encouraged me to submit them to publishers, which I did. Months went by without hearing anything. But then out of the blue I got an email from Austin Macauley Publishers saying they’d like to make it into a book as they felt it would speak to a new audience about an issue not identified much by others.
So here we are, a year later and the book is out! I hope it speaks to people and allows them to think about things they might not normally think about in a way they would not normally think. I hope it gives them confidence to try things they might not normally try, but ultimately I hope it gets people talking about it — stammer or no stammer.
We gave the book to members of our review team, made up of people who stammer, parents and speech & language therapists (SLTs). SLT Hannah Thomas kindly agreed to review The Stuttering Coach and sent us the following:
The Stuttering Coach, written by Martin Scott is a very powerful short story about an extremely dedicated and passionate football coach 'with a difference', the difference is, he has a stammer.
Martin provides an insightful and honest description of some of the feelings he has experienced linked to his stammer. However, the main takeaway message, which comes through towards the end of the story, is that Martin has learned over time to embrace his stammer and that he can do whatever he wants to do, with a stammer. Martin continues to inspire young footballers while
sharing a positive message about stammering.
Hopefully, this story gives a positive message to parents of children who stammer that their child can pursue their passions and dreams, without their stammer being a barrier.
The Stuttering Coach would be a powerful and positive resource to share with young people who stammer. Martin is a role model who demonstrates strength, resilience and courage and gives an honest reflection on feelings of being 'low' and 'alone', but also realises that his stammer should not hold him back.
It would be most suitable for older children as some of the themes are quite complex. Younger children may enjoy the illustrations and rhyme play, but would be unlikely to fully appreciate the messages shared in the story.
Overall the book may be a useful tool to help peers of children who stammer have increased awareness of stammering and some understanding of what a person who stammers might experience. Hopefully, this story gives a positive message to parents of children who stammer that their child can pursue their passions and dreams, without their stammer being a barrier.
The Stuttering Coach, by Martin Scott, out now, is published by Austin Macauley and is aimed at children aged 3-12. You can buy it in paperback and as an ebook from austinmacauley.com as well as WH Smiths, Waterstones and Amazon.
You can read about how Martin became a football coach in his previous article 'Back of the Net'.