The reading exercise that helps me

A man sitting at a restaurant table, with his elbows on the table and hands in front of his face, smiling

Miha Miljevic tells us how speaking differently to everyone else made him feel excluded, and how practising a daily exercise made things easier.

Hello, I'm Miha. I've been stammering since I was a kid, although neither I nor anyone in my family knows when it started. I've always wondered why it started but the reason doesn't matter, does it? It's here and I have to live with it.

When we talk about how stammering has affected me, I know my story is not that different from others who stammer. The pain one feels of wanting to be part of the conversation, wanting to say something but knowing it isn't possible, hurts so much that you gradually accept it and become quiet.

This was the most painful thing: not being able to be me.

I am a highly communicative person so being with people but not being able to talk, not even wanting to talk because I was ashamed, was putting me through so much stress. It didn't matter if it was in school, hanging out with friends, on dates, job interviews, you name it, any situation that involved talking, I wanted to avoid it.

I was never ashamed of who I was, but I was ashamed that I couldn't act the way I wanted to, so I was never able to be myself. This was the most painful thing: not being able to be me. The pain I felt every time was so unbearable, it eventually led to depression.

Explaining the exercise

However, there is one exercise that I do myself daily that really helps me. I don't know if it can have the same effect on others, but it works for me. My grandfather taught it to me and it's the most simple thing: reading out loud. But reading out loud as slowly as possible. Let me explain.

Imagine reading a book. Now imagine reading out loud, and slowly. If the sentence is 'Slow reading', I read it like this: ''Sssssslllllloooooowwwwwww rrrrreeeeaaaaddddiiiinnnnggg''. I try to hold on to every single letter. I stretch and make the muscles in my jaw work. And I read like that for the whole exercise.

...a lot of the words and letters become so much easier to say. It felt like the muscles in my jaw were stronger.

But I don't hold on to each sound for too long because the goal is to say the word, or two words, in full before taking a breath. So I connect the words and sentences.

I personally felt effects very soon after starting this exercise and I do it daily. In the first week a lot of the words and letters become so much easier to say. It felt like the muscles in my jaw were stronger. I believe muscle memory affects this a lot. I now do it regularly. I started reading about two to three pages a day, which took a little more than an hour. After a while I lowered it down to one page a day.

Like with practising anything, if I stop doing it it can all go back. That's why I feel it's important that I do it everyday.

This reading exercise has made my life easier and if you want to try it, I hope you feel the same effect as well. It may vary depending on how much you stammer.

I hope my story helps someone. Even if it's just to let you know that there are many of us out there who would rather send a text than make a call ;)

If you're looking for help, see our Help For Your Stammer section. Read more Your Voice articles. 

Would you like to share your story, experiences, opinions, poems, art, music etc? See Submit Something Something For The Site or email to find out how.

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Tayo & Bhupinder
A speaker on stage at STAMMAFest 2023

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