This blog has been kindly written by Ruth, a current student. Ruth has created a Stammering Support Group, and you can find more details at the bottom of this post.
If you would like to find out more about the support the University can offer if you experience a stammer, please book an appointment with AccessAbility, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01392 723880.
I am currently studying Improving Access to Psychological Therapies. I have had a stammer all my life. I wanted to share with you a little bit about what this is like for me and how it impacts my experience at university.
Firstly, why is it important to talk about this? Stammering affects 1% of adults worldwide, suggesting approximately 23,200 students in UK higher education are affected by stammering. That’s a lot of people! Stammering is covered in the equalities act but few exercise their rights due to the hidden nature of stammering and fear of speaking out. A report by the British Stammering Association reveals that some students with stammers have experienced exclusion and discrimination. I know from experience that stammering can affect participation within classes, group work and verbal assessments. In addition, there is also an impact on social life and friendship building and negative perceptions that other students may have about stammering.
Studying my undergraduate degree was a a difficult experience. It was my first time living away from home and I was faced with making new friendships and connections.
Within classes I felt like the silent observer. Burying my head in my notes or studying the carpet in detail whenever a question was asked. The feeling of knowing the answer and not being able to verbalize it was deflating and frustrating. Group work was challenging, wanting to contribute but being crippled with fear about speaking in front of my class. This led to feeling of resentment and frustration from my classmates and feelings of inadequacy.
During the end of my undergraduate degree I went on speech course which has helped me to control my stammer and improve my communication skills. This has helped me with my current studies. I still find it challenging and face obstacles such as giving presentations or feeling the fear of answering a question in lectures.
I’m passionate about raising the profile of stammering, helping people reach their full potential at work and to network and share ideas about what helps.
Adie is also a student at Exeter University and shares his story:
Starting university can be a daunting time for most people but for someone who has a stammer, this can be an extremely anxiety-provoking time.
The weeks leading up to your first day can bring on so much anxiety, it can leave you feeling sick and feeling that you have made the wrong choice with deciding on going to university.
The main worry for me is when people are unaware that you have a stammer and don’t understand how hard it can be.
The first-day introductions are always difficult and very embarrassing if you struggle to tell people who you are if they are unaware of your stammer.
What has helped me on previous training courses is when I have made the course leader aware of my stammer and had been asked if I wanted to introduce myself first. She then mentioned to the group that I was going to introduce myself first as I find it easier due to having a stammer. This lifted off a great deal of pressure.
In my view, what would really help people who stammer, while they are attending university, is just for staff to have an understanding of a stammer and how it can affect people. I would always find it helpful to be asked by staff if I have any particular worries and how they can assist with this.
About the Stammering Support Group
This network is for students who stammer. The aim of this network is to bring us together so we can share experiences and find out about support available.
This network aims to raise awareness, raise the profile of stammering and provide university staff with guidance. When stammering is hidden it works against the interest of both students and the university because it restricts potential. Creating a culture where people who stammer reach their full potential is important.
Where do I find out more?
If you would like to find out more please email: .
We also have a Facebook group which we will use for discussion and post meet ups. To join please search for: Exeter University Stammering Support Group or go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/600872627263128
British Stammering Association