I spoke fluently until I was 14 years old. My school teacher made me read out loud, and I started struggling to breathe and speak at the same time. Like if I was running out of breath. Mum took me to the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor, but he said I was either nervous or I had a trauma, as nothing was damaged. I have never been nervous, being such a quiet kid, so it must have been a trauma.

Years later, I have a theory. A guy said something to me that shocked me. One of them things boys say to wind up girls. I don't know if what he said happened for real or not, but I think that’s what must have traumatised me. It felt like a betrayal.


I didn’t like saying hello or goodbye, because I thought I would either not be heard or I’d be stammering, so I wanted to avoid it all together.

I was once told to leave a part time job, because I wouldn’t give a good impression on the phone to customers. I knew it was true. Now I know this was DISCRIMINATION, as it is a recognised disability, protected under the Equality Act.

I had way too many times lemonade, instead of Archers and lemonade, as they rarely understand me.. Once I pretended not to be able to speak, so I typed it on my mobile. It worked!! 🙂

I once was told “Look, this is a serious company” because I was unable to answer to the recruiter on the phone. I had a mental block, luckily I managed to snap out of it, it has only happened once.

I was unable to order a pizza smoothly, until their mobile app came in. I would love it if every business had ordering machines. Phonetic alphabet is a lifesaver too, so I can say Hove as Hotel, Oscar, Victor, Echo and everyone would understand me better.


I started a job in an office in 2007, it involved ringing customers. I was going to give it a try, although I was worried it might not get me anywhere. I was lucky my manager noticed I struggled with my speech, and since there were back office tasks to do, she allowed me to do that. They asked her manager before I could apply to become permanent, and they agreed I could. I knew one day a manager would challenge me to be on the phones. My manager suggested to ask Occupational Health. They recommended to see my GP, who then referred me to a Speech Language Therapist. Her waiting list was quite long, 16 weeks, and eventually she saw me.

My unique speech impediment, the way the therapist described it, was something similar to prolongating the letter O, splitting it into two. So if I say “Hove”, it sounds as “Ho-oove”. Rarely people understands me when I say this word. Then I quickly snap and say Brighton or spell H-O-V-E. My speech therapist joined us in a group of 4 people eventually, and then she encouraged us to form our own independent support group.


And the time came, when a nasty manager questioned my pay rise, as I was not "talking" to customers. I said I would go and speak to Unison, the work union that stands up for worker’s rights. A representative came to me with a book called “Law at work”. There it described what a disability is. Speech impediment is a disability, as it affects our day to day for more than a year. It is covered under the Disability Discrimination Act.

My Unison rep called Human Rights, and they said they could not stop a pay rise, because it would be seen as the manager’s feelings. We had a meeting with my manager, who then spoke to Human Resources, and she had to authorise the pay rise. I tell you, Unison is the best money I’ve ever paid! If you have a disability and you apply for a job you are qualified for, they must shortlist you.


I started “coming out” at work, admitting I had a speech impediment, and this is why I struggled to speak. It has been very helpful, as if we are on training, my colleagues would take over the “reading out loud” bit for me. If I start a phone conversation with a company, I will tell them I have a speech impediment, so they will have extra patience. I stopped saying “I’m sorry, I have a speech impediment”, because a person on a wheelchair would never have to apologise, as one of my stammering fellows pointed.
When we see red lights (we are stammering), we should stop and start again, when calmer. Going through red lights is not doing us any favours, but our emotions betray us and make our speech worst.


- Some people will not know how to react, and might laugh at our stammer.

- They might lose eye contact with us, out of shame.

- Phone advisors will hung up on us, claiming the line is not clear.


A lady with a speech impediment, joined our group. She was a psychotherapist, and her technique was to substitute words, to avoid stammering. She read a book “Speech is a river” by Ruth Mead. It explained how speech should be unconscious. We stammer because we are conscious about it. We worry about what they will say, think, understand, if it’s noisy, if we will stammer, if we will be understood, and so on. We put ourselves under such a strong psychological pressure, that we naturally boycott our own speech.The key it says, is to speak unconsciously. To switch off that worst critic on you. It is easier said than done.

She mentioned another book, 'Redefining stuttering' by John Harrison, widely available digitally for free here. It has a very interesting theory 'Stammering, is what we do, not to stammer. We are holding back'. I highly recommend reading it, it has the hexagon theory of how 'change' is made. It is not enough with the intention, we have to follow through with the perceptions, belief, etc. or the system will fall apart.


I had to change my address for my car insurance. They wanted £35 for the privilege of doing so! I emailed them, no answer. I sent them a Tweet, and they asked me to ring. I said I have a speech impediment. They agreed to change it and charge my credit card, but my bank cancelled the previous card as I lost it. They wanted me to ring to take payment. I refused to, and I indicated how it is a recognised disability, and that they could not accommodate me. They agreed to waive the £35, and also the £15 for insurance increase, as they could not offer me a bank account to pay into. I shouldn’t have to be forced to ring. A friend mentioned it was a bit dishonest of me. I said, excuse me, £35 to change an address? I’m not being dishonest, I would pay for it, if only I didn’t have to ring.


This guy wrote a book about his experience stammering, and has been doing speeches about it too. He explained he stammered on his name, and his boss asked him to change his name. He changed his name, and for 20 years they called him a different name. Later on, he stammered on his fake name too, so he gave up, and went back to his original name. He sometimes makes use of the volunteering stammering technique. Stammer on purpose in advance, so you won’t get blocked. I personally never made use of that. After his speech, we mixed between the attendants, and we exchanged experiences.

Nobody knew we were running a stammering support group in Brighton. A lady said she wished she knew about it when she was living here. Another lady said she would like to come, but she felt like a fraud, as she was no longer stammering. It turned out that we would love her to come, to give us some hints as how she overcame her stammering. She said that she did by stopping caring about it.


I went to a British Stammering Association event in London, and I witnessed a guy who had been in the “McGuire” program. He showed us a video of how his stammering was, and how he managed to make full sentences without blocks. They sound a bit unnatural. They do controlled breathings, and they push your boundaries, to get you out of your comfort zone.

I believe that a person does not need techniques. Rather go deep inside themselves, to find out what is causing it.


Each stammerer has a different belief, hence why we have different types of stammer, it's not like the common chickenpox. The lady from 'Speech is a river', believed she had to push air through a perforated hole. She realised by writing a journal about everything she felt. I started thinking about my beliefs and thoughts regarding my speech, and I was surprised to find the last one.

If I don’t have eye contact, I find it difficult to speak.

When I’m upset or I feel insecure about the people listening to me, my speech is worst.

I disliked it when I took the bus, and I had to say “Thank you” in the end, as it would never come out smoothly.

If it’s noisy, I will feel less inclined to talk.

I feel safer talking in a closed quiet environment.

I speak more fluently in my own language in a different country, as the subconscious knows they cannot understand me, therefore not notice I have an impediment.

When I speak, I always think 'I'm not sure if you will betray me', or "You have betrayed me in the past".


1. Stammerers think everybody will notice our speech impediment – not true. It matters the most to us, mostly.

2. People tends to say “I also stammer or used to have a stammer”, but we think they are just trying to be nice.

3 .We had a belief that our stammering would go away on a determined time/event.

4. When we shout, sing, are alone or with children or pets, we don’t really stammer. (We have authority in the conversation)

5. We always almost stammer in the letter that our name starts.

6. We use a “buying time” technique, pretend to think of the word but we are trying not to stammer.

7. Some stammerers like their sentences finished, some dislike it. (I can usually finish my sentences 🙂

8. We are most likely going to stammer with someone whom we look up to, or are fearful of.

9. In our stammering group, we all have different sorts of difficulties. Some get stuck with the S, some with the W, or R, I personally struggle with the letter O, S, or saying “nine”.