|About the presenter: Alan Badmington is a former police officer and lifelong stutterer from Wales, UK. He is a successful figure in the public speaking clubs of England and Wales and regularly addresses diverse community organisations in an attempt to increase public awareness about stuttering. He has also given talks to trainee SLPs, as well as undertaking presentations at NSA and BSA events. He was a keynote speaker at the 7th World Congress for People Who Stutter in Australia in February 2004, where he also won the Oratory Competition. His television, radio and newspaper interviews have further brought stuttering to the fore. Alan has contributed a chapter to John Harrison's book, 'How to conquer your fears of speaking before people'. His work has been reproduced in NSA/BSA publications and on the major stuttering-related websites. Alan is joint owner of Stutteringchat, the world's largest Internet group for persons who stutter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org|
When I was young, I had difficulty reading aloud in school. I couldn't change the words that sometimes gave me problems. I had to say what was printed in the book.
When the teacher asked questions, I never raised my hand. I pretended I didn't know the answers because I was afraid that I would become tongue-tied in front of everyone else.
There were times when I wanted to know more about a particular subject. Maybe, I didn't quite understand something that had been said. But, again, I kept quiet. It was so frustrating! I felt cheated at not being able to join in, especially as I knew I had something useful to contribute.
I never really talked about it with my friends or family -- I guess I felt too embarrassed. Besides, I didn't think that they really understood. I thought I was the only person in the world who had such problems.
When I grew older, everything changed. I started to talk about my stutter with everyone -- even strangers. I didn't hide it anymore. I realised it wasn't something to be ashamed of. It wasn't my fault.
And, do you know what? - I found that people didn't really care if I stuttered - they were more interested in me as a person. They admired my sporting skills -- they enjoyed my jokes and sense of humour -- they liked being in my company. And above all, they could see that my stutter was only a small part of me. I was Alan the athlete, Alan the poet, Alan the coin collector and (way down their list), Alan who sometimes had difficulty with his words.
It wasn't a big deal to them. We are all unique, I just happened to talk a little differently from most. So what?
Looking back, I only wish I had been more open about my stutter at a much earlier age. If only someone had told me that I didn't need to bottle it up inside. If you share a problem, then it never seems quite so bad. I now realise that if I'd talked about it with others, I wouldn't have felt so alone and isolated. Why don't you try it?
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