Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 7: Stuttering as a Lifeguard and Swimming Teacher

Growing up people always said to me that I could never be a teacher because of my stutter. I never understood this and I always questioned them saying why would my stutter hold me back? They never had a valid point to make in their answers and it led me to challenge their assumptions. Roll on to now and I have been a Lifeguard and Swimming Teacher for nearly 3 years.

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be the eighth blog in the Stuttering in Mainstream Media and is going to focus on how my stutter has affected me in my jobs as a Lifeguard and a Swimming Teacher. I am the type of person who likes to surpass people expectations. As mentioned above when I was younger people always told me that I couldn’t be a teacher due to my stutter when in reality the only thing holding me back from teaching was myself. Of course, my stutter can make the job harder in some cases but that doesn’t affect my ability as a teacher. That is one of the main points of this blog, don’t let a stutter hold you back in life. A stutter doesn’t stop you from doing things, however, it does alter your journey.

I completed my first lifeguarding course back in June 2016 and got a job as a Lifeguard in my local Swimming Pool around three months after. My position in work is exactly the same as any of the other lifeguards there, my stutter doesn’t change my job, however, it does change the way that I go about some things. In a job such as lifeguarding, there are obviously going to be some minor changes in how each lifeguard does things.

photo of red and white Vodafone inflatable floater

It can be quite hard to explain how stuttering has changed my job as most of the changes that I have discovered are all usually quite small.  The major changes that I find are when it comes to talking to members of the public or other members of staff. I’ve been in my job for around three years now and I love learning new roles like how to work reception and how to teach in different ways. I started to notice the first major changes in my job when I was covering behind reception for a few minutes when I was still new at the pool.

Most of the customers in the pool recognised that I had a stutter if I started stuttering when serving them and they were really patient and polite about it, however, there were some customers who didn’t have the same attitude towards my stutter. It was very rare that a customer was ever rude to me behind the desk however like you have in any job there were one or two. There was one person who came to the desk and because I got stuck stuttering on a few words she started saying phrases like “spit it out” or “hurry up and get on with it”. After they said those phrases I didn’t really know how to react. As I was in work I had to stay professional but I just couldn’t comprehend why this customer was being so rude. Like I said previously nearly all of the customers coming to the pool were great but one or two of them really make you think.

The second major change is when it comes to communicating with members of the public on poolside. As you would expect in our jobs as lifeguards we do have to enforce the pool rules if members of the public are not abiding by them. In some cases when I would talk to them I would start stuttering. Most of the customers again were more than patient with me but it started to make me feel nervous to speak at times.

To my knowledge see there are few if any policies in workplaces when it comes to stuttering. how I see it is that as there is such a massive focus being aimed at mental health and stress management nowadays that we should try and bring some other subjects like stuttering back into focus as well. Stuttering and stress/ mental health do go hand in hand in some cases. Stuttering can lead to massive self-esteem and self-confidence issues in the world of work. The question that I like to ask is why hasn’t anything really been done to help people with a stutter in the world of work?

Being a Swimming teacher can be one of the most rewarding jobs going in my eyes. I love my job as a Swimming Teacher as I get to see swimmers progress from being scared to go into the water to doing 100 meter swims without stopping. Watching people progress through the different levels/stages of swimming is truly a great thing to watch and it is the reason why I used to love teaching so much.

In my experience of teaching, my stutter has never limited my ability to do my job. As you can expect I do sometimes get stuck on the odd word or I may repeat myself a few times but it doesn’t affect my ability as a teacher. When teaching younger children you automatically think that they will notice you stuttering and try and mimic it but out of the few hundred that I taught, I can only remember one or two doing it. Even those one or two kids weren’t even mimicking it maliciously, they just didn’t understand what a stutter was at that point.

One of the only changes that I noticed as a teacher with a stutter was how some of the parents would act to my teaching. There have been a few cases over the past three years where a parent has asked me if I should be allowed to teach as I have a stutter. This is where the main problems with stuttering come into play. Like I mentioned in a previous blog the only thing that stops you when you have a stutter is yourself and to a degree the people surrounding you. There is such an ingrown stigma in modern society about mental health and topics like stuttering that at times it feels like you are fighting a losing battle.

The fact that I stutter does not change my ability to teach. It may alter the way that I do some things but overall the outcome is the same. When I started to plan this blog I was thinking of all the problems that I have faced in my job and the realisation hit me. The problems that I have faced in my job are down to a lack of understanding of what a stutter is from a third party. I could list all of the issues that I have faced teaching and lifeguarding with a stutter but they all come down to this same link.

Most people do not think about the effect a stutter has on people because it is so rarely brought up in the media and in conversations. Stuttering, in my opinion, doesn’t get the credit it deserves as living with a stutter can be really tough. If you spend just 5-10 minutes talking to a person who has a stutter about their stutter it would start to make more sense. The stigma around a stutter can be linked in some way to the stigma in mental health. They both stem from a lack of understanding and just as mental health is changing now the focus has been put on it, stuttering could do with the same focus.

That’s all I want to talk about in today’s blog. I hope you all enjoy the blog and have a great day! Let me know what you think of it in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Thanks 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!



Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 5: The Printer Theory

How can you compare Stuttering to a printer? How can people understand a stutter if they haven’t got one themselves? How can learning about a stutter help treat it? I hope to answer these questions in today’s blog all about a Stuttering Theory I created myself.

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be the fifth blog in the Stuttering in Mainstream Media series and is going to be about The Printer Theory, a theory that I myself created to help visualise what living with a stutter is actually like. The theory itself can be interpreted in a number of different ways so if you interpret it a different way to how I am saying it that is more than fine.

I created The Printer Theory when I was asked to describe what living with a stutter is like to a few of my University friends this year. I had rarely been asked what living with a stutter was like before going to university so I didn’t have an answer ready at the time. This is when I decided to improvise and came up with The Printer Theory. Even though the theory doesn’t cover all aspects of life with a stutter I still think that it is a good place to start.

The first part of The Printer Theory is about the type of stutter where you just cannot get the words out, no matter how hard you try. So let’s say you have a document on the computer that you want to print out. You do all the normal things such as going to options, selecting print and then waiting for the printer to print the document out. Your document starts printing and then you get a paper jam in the printer.

If you have a paper jam then sending another twenty documents to the printer will not do anything, it will just put more pressure on the CPU of the computer and will affect the interrupts happening to the computer which will slow it down. Sending more documents to the computer will do nothing to help the actual problem which is the paper jam. This can easily be related to having a conversation with a person who has a stutter. If they are stuck on a particular word then asking them 20 more questions will do nothing to help them, it will just stress them out and might even lead to them stuttering more.

To fix a paper jam in the printer you would slowly find out the problem and then try a few ways to resolve it. Forcing the paper out when you have a paper jam will not help the issue, this is the exact same as dealing with a stutter. If someone who you are having a conversation with gets stuck on a word then you definitely should not try to force them to speak, they are trying they just cannot get the words out. What you need to do is simple.

The first step to helping someone who cannot get the words out is to actually realise that they are stuck on a word. If you recognise that someone is struggling then it makes it easier for you to understand and easier for them to get over it. The next step is to try a few different solutions. The first solution I recommend is maybe rewording the question that you asked them. Usually, if a person is simply stuck on one word then if you reword the question they will not even have to try and say it. There are lots of other techniques you can try if this doesn’t work but the key is to be patient, do not rush someone with a stutter as that will help no one.

One of the next links that a stutter has to a printer is when it comes to the order of entities. When you print something out, it is printed in a set order, this is the exact same as the way we speak. If the pages were printed in a random order then we would have to spend a lot of time simply working out the order of the pages and then what they are actually trying to tell us, this works the same with how we speak. We form sentences in a way that they are easy to understand and our words are in a logical order.

Just because a printer may take a long time to print out a particular page, it doesn’t mean that you write it out to try to beat the printer. If a printer was taking a while to print something out then you would wait patiently until it was finished, this links perfectly with a stutter. If a person is taking a while to say a particular word, sentence it does not give you the right to try and speak for them or just rush them into finishing. Rushing someone to speak when they have a stutter severely lowers their self-confidence and leads them to feel more embarrassed when they do eventually stutter.

This links in well to one of the main problems I have when speaking to people when they know that I have a stutter. Most people who do not have a stutter or who haven’t been close to someone who has a stutter think that finishing sentences for people who are struggling helps them out, it actually makes us feel useless. What people don’t actually think about, and this is not a criticism to people, it is just a fact, is that when we are stuttering we are trying really hard to get the words out. If you just jump in and finish the sentence for them, even if you do it with good intentions, then it makes us feel worthless. This paragraph is not meant to be having a go at anyone it is simply explaining something that most people don’t usually think of.

As you can see from the blog above there are lots of different links you can make between a printer and a person who stutters. There are indeed a lot more links that you can find but I have explained the main ones that I wanted to talk about in this blog. If you do find anymore and want to talk them through feel free to send me a message, I’ll more than happily respond!

Thanks for reading today’s blog! What do you all think? Next time you speak to someone with a stutter try and use a few of the points that I made today. Don’t rush them, be patient and please don’t finish sentences for them. I hope you all have a great week and remember to keep Highlighting the I in Difference!

Thanks again for reading and for all of the support,

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!



Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 1: An Introduction

Stuttering, a monumental topic that is often not given the attention it deserves. Many people know people who have a stutter but they really research into what a stutter is and how it can impact someone’s life. This series is going to delve into the world of stutters and reveal another side to the common condition.

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is going to be the first blog in the new series, Stuttering in Mainstream Media. This series is going to really take a look at how a stutter can impact a person’s life, how it is covered in Mainstream Media and how we as a society can take a look at stutters in a new light. One of the biggest questions that arise when looking at stutters and stammers is what really is a stutter?

When it comes to looking at what a stutter really is, there are lots of different possibilities. The NHS,, break down stuttering/stammering into 3 different definitions. The first definition for a stutter is when “your repeat sounds or syllables” of a word. This is usually the most common definition for a stutter and is usually the one that has the most impact on your life.

The second definition the NHS provide is when you “make sounds longer”. An example of this can be with the word, please. People who do not have a stutter will say the word please, simply as the word, please. People who have a stutter, however, tend to extend parts of the word so it can end up sounding like pppppplease. It is usually harder to identify people who stutter this way.

The last definition that we are going to cover in this blog is when “a word gets stuck or doesn’t come out at all”. This type of stuttering is the one that I found hardest to learn to live with. It is one that isn’t usually talked about even though it can lead to a severe decrease in a persons self-confidence and in some cases can lead to people isolating themselves.

As you can see from the three definitions above stuttering/stammering comes in many different forms. There is a common misconception that stuttering does not have much of an effect on people which is something that I am aiming to change. The main objective of this series is to raise awareness into what stutters actually are, to talk about my own experiences about living with a stutter and then to bring in how stutters are covered in the media, on talent shows and in society in general.

That’s all I want to talk about in today’s blog! I hope you’re all looking forward to the blogs in this series as much as I am. Do you have any questions about stuttering that you want answers too? Have you ever had a stutter? Do you know anyone who has a stutter? How has it affected them? Are there any famous people you know who have a stutter? Let me know what you think in the comments or via our Facebook page.

Thank you all for reading today’s blog! I want to say a massive thank you to everyone too as we have now reached over 100 likes on the pages Facebook page. Hope you all have a great week and I’ll see you in the next blog!

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!