Article by Action for Stammering Children Stambassador and activist with big dreams, William Laven (@will.laven)
I have had a stammer my whole life and it hasn’t been easy. I have been bullied for it, I have had thoughts like ‘will this hold me back?’, ‘is it a bad thing that I stammer?’.
However, over the last few years, I have managed to overcome these thoughts and know that my stammer won’t hold me back.
In 2016 I attended the Michael Palin Centre School for Stammering on a two-week intensive course. On this course, we were taught different techniques to help manage our stammer, but we also learned why it’s ok to stammer. This was really important to me as I’d always seen it as a negative, never a positive. I came to realise that my stammer makes me who I am and I overthink how people might react to it. This is when my attitude changed and I since have stopped letting my stammer hold me back from what I want to achieve.
We all try to find an alternative reason for not doing something when we are apprehensive about doing it. I always used my stammer if it was a talking situation. I realised that if I did that, how would I improve? I told myself to say yes to everything that I know will help me and boost my confidence. Talking in front of millions of people on a radio show is terrifying but if you don’t do it, how will you push yourself?
One of the things I use to dread was job interviews. This was because I didn’t know how they would react to my stammer and if they’d perceive it as nervousness leading them to believe I lack the confidence to do the role. This is why I always flag my stammer before an interview as it allows me to feel more focused and stops me from overthinking my stammer as well.
Here is some information from the Action for Stammering Children website about what stammering is:
Stammering is a communication impairment affecting 8% of all children and 1% of all adults across all cultures in the world. Stammering comes in many different forms, often changing from one moment to the next, one day to another, and from person to person, making it difficult to understand what is happening to you or your child. Starting in early childhood, a stammer often develops between the ages of 2-5 coinciding with the rapid development of new physical and mental skills. Often a child will grow out of their stammer beyond their pre-school years, but many do not.
The pandemic has taught me to never hold my stammer back or let it hold me back. It isn’t healthy and I didn’t realis how many people are actually interested in the topic – which is amazing. I have had some opportunities which I could have only dreamed of doing if I’d let my stammer get in the way.
I am also a Stambassador for Action for Stammering Children. In this role, I help inspire young people who are transitioning from education to the workplace and are afraid of how people will react in the big wide working world. Over the last year, I have opened up my social media to people who stammer as a safe place for them to talk about their own experiences. Even though I’m not a professional, I have been through similar experiences, so I know how it feels. Therefore, ending this article with some advice for those who have or known someone who has a stammer seems like a great note to end on.
- Don’t let it hold you back, do what YOU want to do!
- Never feel embarrassed when you stammer, it is ok!
- Never rush someone who stammers or finishes their sentences, it makes it worse and harder for us to do just that.
About the author
William Laven, 22, has devoted his life to campaign and educate on the topic of stammering. Having a stammer from a young age equipped Will with a deep eagerness to encourage others not to let the condition hold them back. He is mobilised and impassioned to raise awareness about the impediment across the globe. In partnership with Action for Stammering Children, Will is a Stambassador who will not be put in a box.
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