What is a stammer? What is stutter? Are they the same thing?
You might have not known what a stammer or stutter is until reading this article today and probably didn’t know that today is International Stammer Awareness Day.
According to the official Stamma website, it suggests that 1% of people stammer. Sounds like a small figure right? Potentially that could be 1.5million adults across Great Britain. This figure excludes children and teenagers.
But I’m not writing this article to show you just the figures, but I want to take you on the journey of what it’s like having a stammer and what it exactly is – so let’s begin.
My name is Musharaf Asghar, and I’ve had a stammer pretty much my whole life. A stammer is something which affects a person’s ability to speak fluently. Occasionally, someone who stammers will find it difficult to say certain words and then other days they probably might be as fluent as can be – That’s a stammer for you!
I remember when I was asked once if I stammered whilst writing, thankfully that’s not the case or this article would be a considerable number of pages long and I don’t think my editor would be very pleased!
Growing up was a struggle because physically I looked all okay (apart from the atrocious haircut). I knew deep down something was wrong especially because I started to feel anxious of trying to talk.
But before I got to writing articles, I remember being one of the only Asian kids with a stammer which was a challenge itself. On this one occasion, one of the local aunties suggested to my mum to apply a blend of ‘badaam’ and ‘pistaa’ (almonds and pistachios) to my neck which would ‘cure my stammer’. Of course, that method did not work but I guess it’s the thought which counts.
Another incident I faced a lot growing up was being ridiculed by people within my community who said I was ‘dumb’ or how the locals referred to my stammer was someone who was ‘pagal’.
Many stammerers go out in their lives and feel similar, but because normalising a stammer or a stutter isn’t very common it makes it very hard for people to understand and accept those who do stammer.
Normal tasks like talking on the phone, ordering food, speaking to family and friends becomes very difficult and the stress boils over when you know you can’t talk.
In my case, I faced all these hurdles in my childhood and teenage years. When I reached high school and tried to make friends, nobody really knew what a stammer was. The lack of education and awareness of stammering impacted me and that was heartbreaking because I had no way to explain to people what a stammer was.
The way you can help someone who stammers is by using a simple trick called… being patient. All you need to do is give someone who stammers or stutters time to speak and they will slowly build the inner confidence to speak. The more you pick on their stammer (unintentionally by finishing their sentences or cutting them off) the more difficult it becomes.
Let’s normalise stammering together so people aren’t afraid of speaking.
Today is international stammer awareness day and for people like me it’s not only on this day we should be proud of stammering but every single moment of every day we should be proud of having a stammer.
My name is Musharaf Asghar and I am proud of stammering.