Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 9: Musharaf Asghar’s Story

Musharaf’s Story is a really interesting story that was brought to life through the Bristish Documentary series, Educating Yorkshire. In this blog, we are going to be looking at what his story is and then we are going to look at the reactions that people had to his story on the TV show Gogglebox.

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be the 9th blog in the Stuttering in Mainstream Media and is going to be about Musharaf Asghar’s story. Musharaf, like most teenagers with a stutter, got bullied a lot through school. This bullying dramatically lowered his self-confidence and worsened his stutter. The story that the show focuses on is how Musharaf is preparing to do his GCSE English Oral exam.

Here is the video of Musharaf’s Story:

Close to the start of the video Musharaf tells us that when he stutters he feels like someone is keeping his mouth closed. I found this quite interesting at first because it is not similar to most of the other definitions that I have heard and made. I think that his form of stuttering is a mix of the effects of bullying on his confidence and the type of stuttering where you just cannot get your words out. I feel like this what Musharaf meant by someone is keeping his mouth shut.

The effects of bullying on someone who stutters do go a lot deeper than most people think. Coming from a background where I have experienced this I feel like I can give a fair view on the matter. If we take it at face value the bullying does obviously have an effect on your self-confidence. This damage to your self-confidence can make you stutter more which makes you feel more nervous about speaking. This creates a mental cycle of being scared to speak in case you stutter and get bullied for it.

The people who are around you when you are being bullied also carry a huge effect on the person stuttering. As more people find out that you have been/ are being bullied for your stuttering then it just makes the anxiety even worse. It gets to a point where even if you are with people you trust you just do not want to talk anymore in fear of being bullied for stuttering. It is a really bad cycle that can be really hard to break.

Close to the start of the video we can also see a coping technique that Musharaf uses to help manage his stutter. When he is answering the question in class he taps out each word that he speaks. I like to think of this as a simplified Rhythmical Thinking approach. Sounding out the words helps you to break down each sentence word by word it can help reduce the number of times you stutter. It is not a permanent fix but it can be very helpful for situations like answering a question in class.

The video also shows us how Mr.Burton tries to help Musharaf with his stutter. He uses a technique that he saw in the King’s Speech which involves speaking when listening to music. This style of stutter solution is a mix of distraction and Rhythmical Thinking. If you want to see more about Rhythmical Thinking you can view the blog here, https://sweeneysblog.com/2019/02/07/rhythmical-thinking-a-stuttering-solution/, but the basic of it is is you think of a beat in your head, speak to it then slowly increase the speed until you get back to speaking at a normal pace.

The Distraction solution is where you distract yourself from thinking about speaking. If we look at this case Musharaf is listening to music. While he is listening to music and reading the poem he hasn’t got time to think about/ worry about stuttering. Although this style of reducing the number of times you stutter may seem basic it does work very well if executed under the right circumstances.

Musharaf does go on to do his presentation very well and he does achieve the grade that he needs to get into college. The story itself is quite a positive one that does make you think of the effect a stutter does have on people. At the end of the video, when Musharaf is doing his speech to the other students, we can see how emotional all of his fellow students are getting. In my opinion, they can see the courage that he has and the determination he has to still speak even with his stutter. It just adds to a comment that I made on a blog a few weeks back, a stutter doesn’t stop you doing anything, the only thing that stops you is yourself.

We’ll now take a brief look at what the Gogglebox reactors thought of Musharaf’s story.

If you watched the video the whole way through you can see how their reactions change. At the start of the video, we can see a few of the reactors getting annoyed at Musharaf when he is struggling to get the words out. Phrases like “spit it out” are thrown about and they are not called for. People do need to start appreciating the effort that some people go to just to say a few words. It would be easy for Musharaf to just not say anything because of his stutter but he still tries, which shows a real judge of character.

Patience is one of the skills that most people do need to work on. I am not trying to have a go at the reactors in this video but I think that it goes to show the cultural “norms” that do need to change. As soon as they find out that Musharaf has a severe stutter they are more than happy to wait for him to speak but if they weren’t told they would continue to be angry at him stuttering. It does give us a look into how people do address people who stutter and how we do need to try and change it for the better.

Closer to the end of the video we do see them appreciate the confidence and determination that Musharaf has. We see them get emotional over him doing his speech and see them really appreciate what he has gone through. The main point of this part of the blog is to say, be patient. You never know of the struggles going on in someone’s mind when they are speaking so take some time to understand.

That’s all I want to talk about in today’s blog! Thank you all for reading! What do you all think? Have you heard Musharaf’s Story? What do you think of speaking while listening to music as a stuttering solution? What techniques do you use/ have you seen to help manage a stutter?

A quick few messages just before finishing today’s blog. Musharaf is now doing talks on his story and about his stutter. Although I haven’t been to one of his talks I have heard that they are very good and very insightful. I highly recommend seeing one if you are interested.

There is also a poll up now on the Facebook group regarding the future of this series. I am not sure whether to keep the series going or whether to put it on pause for a while. Vote in the Facebook poll on what you think should happen to the series!

Thanks again for reading!

Sweeney’s Blogs

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