The concept of stammering is a hard one to pin down. No two stammers are the same, meaning no two people will ever have the exact shared journey. No doubt the majority of people who stammer all share similarities and can easily relate to one another, I’ve found this first hand. When speaking to someone else with a stammer, I no longer have to say ‘if that makes sense’ or anything like that because they understand the journey of
stammering, just as I do.
However, because stammering can be so diverse, even people who stammer may not fully understand what their stammer is, nor what they and other people can do to help it. Which could be why stammering is not known.For example, I learnt whilst on The Starfish Project everyone has a different opinion on people finishing off their words or sentences. This means not even people who stammer can agree on what works for them. So really if we can be unsure in how we want a non-stammerer to react; how will a non-stammerer ever truly know how to help?
This leads me onto the main topic of the post, how stammering is not known and not understood. I think the main reason stammering is not understood is because it’s all relative from person to person. Therefore who knows whether they are saying the right thing? Perhaps, that’s what gives stammering an edge, the fact it can be so individual to you. It’s like many things in life, just because it’s not understood doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be spoke about. I am not for a second blaming people who stammer for stammering not being known, but looking from a different perspective does make me understand why it must be hard. For example, some people class their stammer as a disability, others do not and whichever one you are is perfectly fine. The 2010 Equality Act is there for people with a stammer to interpret as they see fit. This could be ‘how’ stammering’ is not known, but we don’t have the ‘why’ stammering is not known, yet.
I did a bit of research earlier, and what really upset me is in 2018 there was more in the media for Kiss A Ginger Day and Star Wars Day than there was for International Stammering Awareness Day. I find that absolutely bizarre and you’d have to be a special kind of idiot or just plain ignorant if you couldn’t see there must be something wrong here. Obviously speaking is not the most favorite thing of stammerers, but I know lots of people either speak anyway or use social media along with other things to try and help raise awareness. Not many people seem to know what stammering is from my personal experience, and the ones who do just think it’s getting stuck on a few words or sounds.
So, what we need to do is raise awareness of stammering as a whole, the whole iceberg itself. For any of you who aren’t sure of what the iceberg analogy is, it is how the dysfluency is above the surface and there is a lot more to a stammer which people do not see, this is beneath the surface. This can be anything from embarrassment to anxiety. 90% of people who stammer say they have faced jokes or bullying because of their stammer. If 90% of people in a wheelchair faced bullying because of their condition I am pretty certain there would be outrage, tabloids would have a field day. But somehow, stammering just slips the radar. It’s things like that which need to change.
Stammering has been ignored and misunderstood for too long. There is no right or wrong answers to the question ‘why is stammering not known?’ because as I’ve mentioned there’s many reasons that could be the answer. The fact of the matter is it’s now time for change. If you want stammering to be known and understood, you've got to do it yourself, make a difference. Make the impact you want to make as together we will overcome stammering and everything attached to it.