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,

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

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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

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

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!

£5.00

James

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

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

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 6: James Earl Jones

Did you know that Darth Vader’s actor had a stutter? The man behind one of Hollywoods most recognisable voices was mute for nearly eight years! These two facts alone help paint a brief insight into the pain that a stutter can cause a person. A stutter affects more than just your ability to speak, it affects you as a person.

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be the sixth blog in the Stuttering in Mainstream Media series! In today’s blog, we are going to be taking a look at how James Earl Jones, one of Hollywoods greats, story. We are going to take a look into how his stutter has affected him growing up and how he manages his stutter when filming for films and when he is on Broadway. The man is a stutterspiration in all essence of the word, what he has done whilst having a stutter is truly amazing!

Most people often forget that James Earl Jones, the man behind the voices of Darth Vader and Mufasa, had a terrible stutter in his childhood. An article that I found in the Health section of The Daily Mail, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1255955/James-Earl-Jones-My-stutter-bad-I-barely-spoke-years.html, takes a closer look into his story. As we look into James’s story it is crucial to remember that despite having a stutter, he is still very successful in life.

The article and indeed the video above show us that growing up James felt that it was easier to remain quiet and some could say hidden to avoid being judged due to his stutter. The article points out a very interesting point. James Earl Jones, a man with one of the most recognisable voices in Hollywood was “almost mute as a child for eight years” due to his stutter. That just goes to show the inherent fear that a stutter can cause on an individual.

When talking about growing up with a stutter James talks about how he used to feel like he was “cursed”. The fear of not being able to talk tat a stutter creates truly is phenomenal. It is something that you cannot fully understand unless you actually go through it but it is something that you can begin to appreciate. Having the courage to push forward even when you cannot get the word out at times is shows a real mark of character. It is often the confidence we have in ourselves that dictates the effect that a stutter will have on our lives.

Further on in the article James talks about how “stuttering is painful”. He recalls when he had to read in Sunday school as a child and how the other children were ” falling on the floor with laughter” simply because he struggled to get the words out. This hits home quite hard for me as I was often in the same position growing up with a stutter, I remember going through Secondary school Engish classes, every time the teacher would pick someone to read I would pray to be invisible. The fear that a stutter can muster in a child is truly worrying. However, if we focus on the negatives then no change will be made. We need to look at the positives in life and in this case James’s story to see how we can help manage a stutter and live a “normal life” (whatever that means!).

Now as James mentioned above he got over a stutter using Poetry. Now poetry and other creative writing processes are very good techniques to use to help manage a stutter. I often use poetry when I am stuttering a lot as a way for me to centre myself. It gives me time to relax, think about what I want to say and then the time to actually say it.

Dictating your own work can be very very useful. If you haven’t tried the technique before I highly recommend it. If you don’t have anything to read then starting off is simple. Simply write 5-10 lines about yourself and then practise saying them out loud. Start off saying them by yourself and then as you practise more and more get other people in to listen to you. Eventually, you will be able to speak the lines without reading the paper. From this point, you start to practise reading the lines whilst also looking at people. It is a gradual process but patience is key for the endgame.

Another method that James said he uses to help manage his stutter is shouting at the empty seats before a play. Now there are quite a lot of people that use aggression as a form of managing their stutter. Personally, I haven’t used this method much in the past, I have tried it, but not for a long while. I will do a blog on it further down the line as I know Samuel L. Jackson uses it to help manage his stutter.

The last thing that I want to talk about in regards to James’s story is some final words he said at the end of the Daily Mail article. He says “When you are mute, you become a good listener – it’s all one-way.” Now even though I have not been mute I do really empathise with this statement. Now as a stutterer myself I have learned how to be a good listener. I’m not going to go into it in too much detail in this blog as I do want to do a whole blog on it in a few weeks but there is a link between someone who stutters and their listening ability. I find it quite an interesting link to learn about which is why I want to leave it for a future blog.

That’s all I want to talk about in today’s blog! What do you all think? Did you know James Earl Jones had a stutter? What do you think about the poetry method of managing a stutter? Let me know what you think!

One of the most important points that I want to leave this blog on is that a stutter shouldn’t hold you back. James Earl Jones is the prime example of this point. Granted his stutter nearly made him mute for eight years but he got past it. He didn’t let it control his life. He became the voices of Darth Vader and Mufasa with a stutter, so the question stands, what’s stopping you? Remember failure isn’t a bad thing, it’s a learning curve!

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the next one!

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

Rhythmical Thinking: A Stuttering Solution?

Stuttering is one of lifes obstacles that can prove difficult to overcome. Certain types of people learn methods and techniques to help overcome stuttering, however others can struggle. I’m going to be doing a series of blogs with methods I use to help reduce the amount I stutter. This method i like to refer to as the Rhythmical Thinking method.

During times when i stutter a lot I always try a wide range of techniques to help reduce it. When I was younger there was a time where no matter what method I tried, I could not stop stuttering. I struggled to think of what to do and then a thought came to my head. I started thinking of a musical beat in my head. I slowly started to increase the beat when I stopped stuttering and I went back to speaking normally. I’ll go into detail about how this works after i give a bit of a background to how it worked for me.

Image result for conductor

I’ve been part of a brass band since I was very young. I learned to play the trombone when I was in year 3 in school and am still learning today. As I grew up playing in a brass band I experienced lots of different musical beats, rhythms and tempos/speeds. After playing these pieces hundreds of times you lean how to compose these beats in your own head.

Now how the Rhythmical Thinking technique works is as follows. When yo start to stutter a lot you stop and think of a beat. This beat can be as fast or slow as you want it to be however i recommend starting with a slow beat. Once you have this beat in your head you can either just keep it in your head or you can tap your fingers or toes to it.

Image result for cory band

After the beat has remained constant in your head for a while start speaking in time with the beat. As you start to reduce the amount you stutter slowly increase the beat until you get back to normal. As you increase the speed ensure that you are still stuttering less. If you start to stutter more again then slow down again and try again. This should help you stop stuttering.

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

James Sweeney