Sweeney’s Stuttering Update – April 2021

April is going to be coming to a close in just under a weeks time, and in saying that, I feel like now is a great time to give you all Sweeney’s Stuttering Update for April 2021! I have found that over the last couple of years, I have been going on quite a journey with my speech and my Stutter, and I thought, why not bring all of you along with me!

So without further ado, let’s take a look at my update for this month!

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Sweeney’s Stuttering Update – March 2021

Over the past year, I have gone on a very unusual journey with my speech and my Stutter. The past 12 months have seen a lot of ups and downs, and I have learned a lot about my Stutter, and the role that it plays in my life. While I usually keep these observations to myself, I have been thinking that they could make for the odd interesting ‘update’ post, and that’s exactly what we’ll be looking at today!

Let’s take a look at some of the thoughts I have, and things I have learned, about my Stutter in March 2021!

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Sweeney’s Stuttering Series?

I have written quite a lot of blog series here on Sweeney’s Blogs, and as I haven’t done one for a couple of weeks now, I was thinking, should they make a return? I have been considering bringing blog series back to the page for some time, so what I thought I would do over the next couple of blogs is to talk through some of my ideas for potential series, and see if anybody is interested in them!

Today’s blog is going to be about my potentially new Stuttering Series.

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

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My Stuttering Journey through 2020

2020 was a massive year for me, and yet, despite all of the highs and lows experienced in those 12 months, one of my key takeaways from the year would be the lessons that I learned throughout my 2020 Stuttering Journey. My Stutter has played a very large role in all of my life, I wouldn’t ever say that wasn’t the case, but 2020 seemed to be a year in which everything that happened, seemed to link back to that topic, my Speech and my Self-Confidence.

This is what we’ll be looking at in today’s blog!

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My Hopes for “My Beautiful Stutter”

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed during my lunch hour earlier on this week and a trailer for a film called “My Beautiful Stutter” showed up on my suggested posts. Up to know, I hadn’t heard of many films that were made to address the issue of Stuttering, apart from the odd exception such as The King’s Speech, or The Waterboy, so it is safe to safe that I was very intrigued on how they were going to go about doing it.

I have not been able to actually watch the film itself yet, but in today’s blog we are going to look at some of my hopes and aspirations as to what this film can do for the Stuttering Community and for the stigma that surrounds Stuttering as a whole.

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Joe Biden – An Icon to the Stuttering Community

On Saturday 7th November 2020, it was announced that Joe Biden has won the 2020 US Election and will be the next President of the United States, starting on the 20th January 2021. In today’s blog, we are going to be exploring the effect that Joe’s Victory will have on the Stuttering Community, and if it will give the awareness that surrounds Stuttering that very much needed boost.

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I Guest-Starred in a New Podcast

On Saturday 31st October, I was asked to be a special guest on a brand new podcast, called “26 minutes with”, which has been created by Respect Mental Health and the amazing Benjamin Seal. It was an honour to be asked to e the first guest for the show and we are going to be taking a bit of a closer look at the podcast in today’s blog!

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Sweeney’s Stuttering Story – The Call

Today’s blog is going to be a little bit different to the usual kind of blog that I write. The blog is going to be focused around a story which happened to me around 4-5 weeks ago, which played a really large role in the increase of the amount that I stutter over the last couple of weeks.

I mentioned in last weeks blog that I was going to talk about it this and, even though it is quite a personal story, I still feel like the messages that we can take from it are very important. It may seem like a very sad story when you read through the first few paragraphs, but there’s always a lesson and a moment of reflection that we can take from moments like this.

So without further ado, this is Sweeney’s Stuttering Story – The Call.

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My Stuttering Episode on the “It Starts with Action” Podcast!

Being a part of a podcast has been something that I have always wanted to do in life, however, due to my Stutter, I always thought that this dream was out of my reach, but now I have proved myself wrong! This week I starred in an episode of the “It Starts with Action” podcast, where I talk about a large array of different things, and is going to be what today’s blog is about!

So without further ado,

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Stuttering in Mainstream Media Series

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to Stutter? Do you know there is more than one type of Stutter out there? Do you know any famous people who have a Stutter? The Stuttering in Mainstream Media series takes a look at all of these questions and much much more!

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Stuttering. The speech stopper. The verbal blockade.

I am very proud to say that as of the start of this week I had the honour of writing a blog that has been posted on the Henley Careers blog page! It is a huge honour and achievement for me and my business and it is a massive step in the right direction for my developing career. The blog itself is all about Stuttering and as National Stuttering day was on the 22nd of October I feel like it is a great time to learn more about Stuttering and how it can affect people in the world of work.

I want to say a massive thank you to Sarah Chorley and the rest of the Henley Careers team for giving me the chance to write this blog and I hope we can work together more in the future! The blog is live now so if you are interested, please take a look. If you read the blog and enjoy it there are plenty more blogs on both my page and the Henley Careers page!

Henley Careers Blog

Stuttering affects approximately 68 million people in the world, but do we ever stop and think about how a stutter will affect someone in and around the world of work?

Stuttering is a condition that I think doesn’t get the focus that it needs. People think that a stutter just affects how you speak but it can affect you at a much deeper level too. In this blog, we are going to be taking a closer look at what exactly a stutter is and then we are going to look at stuttering in the world of work, how it affects people in interviews and how employers could potentially behave if they are interviewing someone with a stutter.

What is a stutter?

Stuttering is a condition that has a lot of different definitions. Personally I like the definition provided by the NHS, as it breaks stuttering down into three separate definitions:

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Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 11: Series Summary

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Today’s blog is going to be the twelfth blog in the Stuttering in Mainstream Media series and is going to be a summary of the series. I have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks thinking and planning about where I wanted this series to go. At the minute I feel like I have covered everything that I want to for know so today’s blog will be the last blog in this series for a while. In today’s blog, I will be recapping some of the key points I have made over the course of the series and bringing up some important points to remember.

  • There’s more than one kind of Stutter/Stammer!

When talking about stuttering it is crucial to remember that there is more than one type of stutter. Each type of stuttering can be managed differently and each type does have a different effect on the stutterer. If you are familiar with the different types then it will make talking to someone with a stutter so much easier. You will be able to recognise when someone is stuttering and then hopefully will know how to work around it.

If you cannot remember the different types of stutter or want an update you can find them all on our Blogapedia here: https://sweeneysblog.com/blogapedia/. We talk about the main three types of stutter in the First blog in the series!

First Blog: https://sweeneysblog.com/2019/07/01/stuttering-in-mainstream-media-blog-1-an-introduction/

  • A Stutter doesn’t stop you doing anything

When we are thinking about a stutter, one of the most important things to remember is that a stutter doesn’t stop you doing anything. A Stutter may change the way you approach something compared to if you didn’t have a stutter but it doesn’t stop you doing it. Don’t see a stutter as a roadblock, see it as an obstacle that you will feel so good about when you’ve overcome it.

  •  Your surrounding environment can have a large effect on a stutter

When I talk to people who say that their stutter has had a large impact on their life the first thing that we talk about is our surrounding environments. It is something that a lot of people do not really think of when it is a really important variable to consider. A good social group does have a lot of positives to it but one that people don’t think of very often is the effect on a persons stutter. When you are around people who you are comfortable with and who you can be yourself around then you will start to stutter less. The opposite obviously happens if you are in a bad environment. Going through life in a good working environment with a good social group is key to reducing the amount you stutter.

  • Patience is key for talking with/ talking to someone with a stutter

One of the points that I cannot stress enough is about having patience with stutters. When you’re talking to someone with a stutter it is crucial to remember that they are trying to speak. They aren’t messing you around, they are genuinely trying to talk to you. Please don’t finish their sentences for them. People think that finishing a stutterers sentence for them helps, but it just makes them feel so much worse.

If a person stuttering annoys you, I can guarantee that the stutterer themself is more annoyed. Patience is key. Don’t rush someone or bombard them with questions and comments. Relax and let then conversation flow is what I say.

  • You’re not alone

Stuttering doesn’t just affect you. 68 million people in the world have a stutter. It is nothing to be ashamed of. There are a lot of resources out there to help you manage/ get over a stutter. Most of these, unfortunately, will not work but you will eventually find something that helps you control your stutter. I use Rhythmical thinking to manage my stutter which is a technique I found myself. There are a lot of organisations that can help with your stutter too. In last weeks blog, we mentioned the AIS when talking about Bruce Willis’s story. If you haven’t checked them out I highly recommend you do so. They have worked closely with stutterers like Bruce Willis and Samuel .L. Jackson in the past.

If you want to learn more about Rhtymical Thinking click on the following link: https://sweeneysblog.com/2019/02/07/rhythmical-thinking-a-stuttering-solution/.

  • I’m always available

If you have any questions about stuttering or have any stories/ experiences you want to share please get in touch. I always love learning about other peoples stories! Be your own Stutterspiration!

That is all I want to talk about in today’s blog. Thank you all for all the support you have given this series and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. What do you think of the series? Would you like it to come back in the future? Have you learned something new from the series? What do you think about the effects stuttering brings, be it positive or negative? Let me know what you think in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Sweeney’s Blogs

Any money donated here will be put back into the business. This can be through marketing campaigns, upgrades to plans or for setting up future events!

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James

Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 10: Bruce Willis’s Story

A lot of people know Bruce Willis from his roles in films such as Die Hard, Glass and The Sixth Sense to name but a few but did you know that Bruce Willis used to have a stutter? The fact that Bruce Willis, a very successful actor, has lived with and got past having a stutter just goes to further my firm belief that a stutter does not stop you doing anything in life. In today’s blog, we will be looking at his story.

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Today’s blog is going to be the eleventh blog in the Stuttering in Mainstream Media series and is going to be about Bruce Willis’s story. I find Bruce’s story a really inspiring and emotional one and it is a great story to see the effect that a stutter leaves on a person even after they have gotten over it. The emotion and body language that Bruce shows when he talks about his childhood and growing up with a stutter helps give everyone an insight into what living with a stutter is actually like. The video below is taken from a speech Bruce made at the AIS (American Institue for Stuttering) Gala in 2016 and helps back up the points that I have made. When you watch the video the sheer emotion and passion that Bruce has when talking about Stuttering and the work that AIS do is truly inspirational.

Bruce started stuttering when he was around 9 years old. Bruce describes himself as a shy child due to the problems he had with his speech. An Article published by Making Peace with Life, http://www.makingpeacewithlife.com/uncategorized/how-bruce-willis-has-overcome-stuttering/, helps us to take a deeper look at Bruce’s story and how he managed to overcome his stutter. It is important to remember that Bruce does still stutter from time to time, it is just now he knows how to manage it. Due to the control that Bruce has over his stutter, it is no longer an issue for him.

Bruce’s stutter did have quite a large effect on Bruce’s school life. To try and avoid speaking situations, Bruce started to skip classes in high school. This led to him starting to get into drama and different plays. As mentioned in the article he ” would play roles such as the joker so that he can bring smiles to the audience’s face without much talking”. He became a bit of a class clown by pulling pranks and making jokes in front of his classmates as a way of compensating for his stutter.

Over time Bruce started to get more confident speaking in front of a crowd due to all of his plays. He found that when he was acting on stage, he did not stutter. The interesting thing was that even though he would not stutter on stage, as soon as he came off he would start stuttering again. Around 1 or 2 years after finishing school Bruce managed to get a place at Montclair State College in New Jersey, “as a drama student.”At the college one of his professors, Jerry Rockwood discovered Bruce’s potential as an actor and advised him to start going to speech therapy. The combination of acting and speech therapy was what led Bruce to help manage his stutter.

Bruce says that stuttering helped make him a “better person”. In the article, he talks about how his stutter led to him being “more compassionate towards other people’s pain and struggles.” He goes on to say that his stutter led to him discovering an “inner strength” that he did not know that he had before.

Bruce’s story is an incredible story to look at and it does go to show that you can still be successful even with a stutter. To reinforce the point that I have made numerous times in this series, a stutter does not stop you doing what you want to do. A stutter may make it a little bit more difficult but I’m sure we can all agree that hard work does ultimately pay off.

To finish this blog off I want us to revisit a quote Bruce made in the Youtube video I included in this blog from the AIS Gala in 2016. In his speech, Bruce mentions a quote made by Eleanor Roosevelt. The quote itself is “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Don’t stop speaking just because one or two people made fun of your stutter, You have a voice – make sure you use it. Your stutter does not make what you have to say any less valuable, remember that.

Thank you for reading today’s blog! What do you all think? I have only briefly covered Bruce Willis’s story, there is still plenty more to look at if you are interested. What else would you like to see covered in this series? Did you know acting can be a form of a stuttering solution? Let me know what you think of the blog and any thoughts/questions you have in the comments below!

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a good day,

Sweeney’s Blogs

Any money donated here will be put back into the business. This can be through marketing campaigns, upgrades to plans or for setting up future events!

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James

Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 9: The Do’s and Don’ts of Stuttering

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Today’s blog is going to be the 10th blog in the Stuttering in Mainstream Media and is going to be about the Do’s and Don’ts of Stuttering. Even though I have mentioned in a few previous blogs about how stuttering affects everyone differently, there are a few trends that have emerged. In this blog, I will be briefly talking about some of these trends and just bullet pointing others. If you can think of any that I haven’t included please let me know. I have seen a few other posts about the do’s and don’ts of stuttering but they only focus on stuttering in children, whereas stuttering affects people of all age.

Do’s

  • Allow the person to finish their sentence, don’t interrupt them.
  • Be Patient – if a person is stuttering, please give them time to finish. Rushing someone who stutters will make them stutter more and will cause them to get stressed.
  • Encourage a person with a stutter to speak, don’t leave them alone in the quiet.
  •  If someone is stuck on a word and cannot get it out, try rewording the sentence/question? Rewording the question allows the stutterer to think of a different word that they may not get stuck on.
  • If you’re meeting someone new, mention that you have a stutter if you think it is important too
  • Live a normal life –  A stutter doesn’t stop you doing what you want to do in life
  • Maintain eye contact and concentration when talking to someone with a stutter
  • Reassure a stutterer if they are nervous
  • Speak to a speech therapist about your stutter

Don’t

  • Allow a person with a stutter to isolate themselves.
  • Be embarrassed about stuttering
  • Criticise /Mock their stutter – There are some things that you just cannot joke/ have banter about. A stutter is one of them.
  • Don’t say phrases like “slow down” or relax”. Even though they sound like you’re helping, they just make it worse.
  • Finish a sentence for them – People think it helps but all it does is make a stutterer feel worse about themselves and think that their voice is less valuable than someone else.
  • Lose your patience if someone is stuttering a lot

That’s all for today’s blog! Even though this blog may seem a bit shorter than the others in the series it is still very important. Like I said at the start of this blog if you can think of any points that I have missed, please let me know and I will add them. There are lots of guides out there for stuttering but they are mostly aimed at children. I wanted to do a series that was targeting every age.

In regards to the future of this series, I think that I am going to keep it going for a little bit longer. The polls that I ran last week came back fairly in favour of keeping the series going so I will do around 2/3 more blogs for it and then I will put it on hold for a while. I am not 100% sure at the minute what the next series will be but when it comes closer to the time I will run a few polls on the Facebook page.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a great day!

Sweeney’s Blogs

Any money donated here will be put back into the business. This can be through marketing campaigns, upgrades to plans or for setting up future events!

£5.00

James

Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 8: 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.

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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

Any money donated here will be put back into the business. This can be through marketing campaigns, upgrades to plans or for setting up future events!

£5.00

James