An open letter to young women who stammer

By Lucy Hayes, Communications and Youth Engagement Manager

In October 2015, ASC launched it’s Youth Panel who’s purpose is to represent the voices of young people who stammer. The panel is currently made up of 10 young men aged between 13-21 and in their first meeting decided that the group needed to be more representative of the stammering community.

We have  decided to reopen applications for young women to join the panel, and current panel member Michael Scott wants to tell you why you should apply:

“As someone who has stammered for as long as I can remember, I know how draining it can be at times, particularly during a child’s time in the education system – and this is one of the key reasons that led to me applying to be a member of ASC’s youth panel. After seeing the promotion of the panel my mind was cast back to one of the worst times I have been through with my stammer; which was during high school and I realized that I couldn’t pass up on the chance to influence one of the most prestigious speech therapy organisations in the country, and hopefully work on a national campaign in order to increase the overall awareness of stammering not just for me; but for anyone else who had ever been in that place. One of my main issues during my time in high school was consistently coming across teachers who were unaware of how to help someone who stammers and hopefully a national campaign will help us reach the end goal – stammering people being able to thrive in whatever environment they are in. This panel has given every member the chance to make a huge difference for stammering people as a whole and to ensure that the thoughts of the people who receive the services of the ASC are deeply embedded within the organisation’s policy.

However the panel isn’t currently representing the extremely diverse community of people who stammer as a whole; in order to encompass the perspectives of all stammering young people we need to recruit more young women who stammer as this will result in the voices contributing to the policies of the ASC being a full unification of a varied community of stammering young people. The panel so far has been very fun to be a part of, the meetings aren’t all serious! The topics are important to the panel as a whole but we have fun working together in order to produce something (for example in the last meeting we worked on putting a mission statement together) and each topic usually results in some jokes and stories being shared.

To conclude, I’d like to show you this quote from an amazing article about stammering awareness day – “I imagine that for the non-stammerer, language must be a little like air, a medium so compliant that most of the time you forget you’re moving within it. But for the stammerer, speaking is like moving through water – you are constantly aware of language because it constantly resists you.” I do partially agree with this, because physically a stammer will always feel like walking through water, however in this panel we can work to change the attitudes of people so it doesn’t mentally feel like walking through water, and our own thoughts don’t stay as thoughts because of fear of how the person we are speaking to will react to stammering. The first step towards achieving this is for more young women to join the panel. ”

For more information and the application pack go to http://www.ascyouthpanel.com/