Stefan Biernat talks about things on his mind, as well as his dream job.
My name is Stefan, I'm 17 and I have had a stammer since I was four. When I want to speak I just want to say the word, but I get stuck on it. I stop and pause, and then I say the word again. At times, I can move onto the next word, but other times I can’t. Sometimes I lengthen words. It’s easier when I know what to say and it’s harder when I am excited about something or when I feel rushed or pressured to speak. Talking in a group of people when I don’t know them is harder than talking to someone one-to-one.
I try to help myself by stopping and breathing through the words, but I still sometimes stammer, which makes me a bit stressed, upset, angry and frustrated. It would make me feel nervous if people do not know I have a stammer. However, I wouldn’t feel confident telling them, unless I knew them or if I only had to tell one person.
In September 2018 I started going to an Ofsted outstanding college of further and higher education in Weston-super-Mare. I am on a course called Extension Studies, which prepares students for higher-level study, employment and independent living. I enjoy college and have had a positive experience.
I have made some good friends at college; they know I have a stammer and they give me time to speak.
Since starting there, I feel that my stammer has improved. I think this is because I am getting more help than I did at school and because the tutors give me time to speak. I have received positive feedback from numerous tutors and have been described as ‘a popular member of the football team’. At secondary school, I didn’t talk as much because of my stammer but I talk more at college - the classes are smaller, which is a nicer environment. I like working in groups at college, but I prefer hands-on, practical tasks rather than writing and talking.
I see the college’s Speech and Language Therapist once a week to help me with my stammer and the strategies are useful. I’ll try to use them on my next course.
Friendships and relationships
I sometimes worry that people who don’t know me will take the mick when I stammer. But I am not worried about socialising. I have made some good friends at college; they know I have a stammer and they give me time to speak. I don’t talk as much but I would like to socialise more because outside of college my friends live far away. However, I do feel that I would be able to call them on the phone to have a chat.
Dating is going to be a bit harder than friendships because I will not know the person that well at first.
In the future, I would like to be a mechanic and my dream job would be working in a Ferrari garage. I have secured a place on the Level 1 Motor Vehicle course at my college’s centre for technology, construction and engineering, starting in September. It will probably be a bit harder because it’s a new course and I will be meeting new people, but I will not let that stop me.
I am not worried about applying for higher education or work and I would feel comfortable disclosing on my application that I have a stammer. However, the interview stage will probably be a bit stressful because I might get stuck on the words.
My key message to other people who stammer is: ‘You can get the job that you want, even if you stammer. Go for it!’ My key message to the public is: ‘Give me time to speak.’