I’m a person who loves Gran Alacant having holidayed here for the past 10 years. My parents own a lovely house a short walk from the beach and bars. It really is a home from home. I’m also a person with a stutter. Stuttering is a hidden disability and one that affects 1% of the world’s population. For many people who stutter, the world can be an intimidating place to live and one where a stutterer can feel isolated.
As a stutterer myself, I used to feel feelings of anxiety and embarrassment every time I spoke. I felt alone and that no one could understand my situation. I left school and chose a course at college that involved little to no speaking even though all I wanted to do was be a teacher.
Then 9 years ago, I found a stuttering therapy course called The McGuire Programme. This is a unique therapy option as it is run for people who stutter by people who stutter. After my first course everything changed for me. I no longer felt alone. I had a support community of other people who knew what I was feeling. The McGuire Programme taught me techniques to control my stutter, both physical and physiological. The physical techniques include a new way to breathe when speaking and an assertive tone when speaking-no holding back on sounds. The physiological techniques were about defeating the negative associations I had built up around speaking. This included speaking dysfluently in a controlled way. Being dysfluent on my own terms gave me the confidence that it is fine to speak differently from other people and it allowed me to stop hiding and to accept myself as a person who stutters.
Around five years ago I decided to retrain as a teacher and now work in a busy primary school in Glasgow. I am very open and honest about my disability with colleagues, parents and children. I teach children that it is perfectly acceptable to be different and it gives hope to people who themselves struggle with barriers to achieving their full potential. I have also been selected as the Equality and Diversity representative for Glasgow teachers, a voluntary role. This role means I can speak to others in the profession about any issues they may heave around equality and diversity.
Since joining The McGuire Programme and accepting my disability I have achieved things I never thought I could achieve. I have presented at academic conferences- relaying data from my master’s level qualification, I have given a best man speech and I’ve given a speech at my own wedding. It’s also the little things like ordering a take away or getting my train ticket. The McGuire Programme changed my life.
Earlier this year I was nominated for a National Diversity Award for being an inspirational role model. It is amazing and humbling that people would take the time to nominate and vote for me.