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Recent impacts on my feelings about stammering

STAMMA Helpline volunteer Peter tells us about the things that have made him think about his relationship to stammering and his volunteering role over the last few years.

I've stammered for as long as I can remember (I was apparently 5 when it started) and what I can definitely say is that I've stammered more in the last 3 years that I have in the past 40. So what's changed?

Well, I've been working as a volunteer on STAMMA's helpline, talking to people who stammer, or those close to someone who stammers. Now with plenty of grey hairs (each one a lesson learnt?) I think I'm getting to know myself. However, working with STAMMA especially has felt like going back to college (I say college rather than school as my overall memories of secondary school are not good) where I really started to understand things and myself.

Our relationship with stammering is intensely personal and often, incredibly public. Coming to terms with 'it' is just the same and, like all things, changes with our understanding and experiences in our lives. Over the last few years, several things have had a particular impact on how I feel about stammering and my role as a volunteer.

I'm finally finding my reaction to stammering (in myself, in others and when seeing it portrayed) becoming less emotive. 

Firstly, mindfulness has played a huge role. I have been on a lifetime journey, hand in hand with my stammer, so if you define mindfulness as something like 'a moment-to-moment awareness of one's experience without judgement' (I quite like this one I just found on the internet) you have to come to terms with it.

Here are a few of the other things that have had an impact:

Bringing things right up to date, last month I attended STAMMAFest Global, which was my first experience of a stammering conference. I only stayed for one day (something I quickly wished was longer) but it was packed with relevant and thought-provoking presentations and workshops. People were totally engaged; they gave each other space and respect for developing their viewpoints. All the workshops I attended were worthwhile — in the morning, 'Older people who stammer' and 'Brains that stammer' both generated some great discussion. In the afternoon I attended 'Acceptance and change' and 'Online community building' — these were really significant for me in that the former generated the 'focus' in me upon ‘acceptance’ and the latter on my reaction to stammering 'on behalf' of the people I was listening too. 

I'm finally finding my reaction to stammering (in myself, in others and when seeing it portrayed) becoming less emotive. So much of the above 'events' also represent acceptance (in myself especially). The role of acceptance was brought into sharp focus by the STAMMAFest workshop I mentioned above. Here I appreciate I am departing from the recommended first step in managing my stammer. I feel absolutely no need to make such a distinction of accepting my stammer... I do not need, or want, to make such a change in myself, indeed... oh dear... has it already happened?

What things have made you think about your feelings towards stammering? Write an article and share your views with the community. See Submit Something For The Site or email for details.

Two women in running outfits holding flags and looking at the camera
Tayo & Bhupinder
A speaker on stage at STAMMAFest 2023

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