Coping with Stammering at University

Wednesday 1st February 2017

A few weeks ago I was contacted by my speech and language therapist, Teressa Howarth, about speaking to a young man in his second year at university. He was finding his stammer to be a real barrier during his time there, and as I have experienced university life and the many challenges it presents, I felt it to be very beneficial to share my experiences and give my advice. The transition from school to university can be very daunting as you part with many school friends and begin meeting new people and making new friendships.
Ben is a student at Huddersfield University and has a stammer. Although my stammer began at the age of around four, Ben’s stammer developed after encountering different experiences throughout life. We both had a lot in common and felt the same about a lot of things. I shared my experiences of university with Ben, how I coped with my stammer and what I found helped/made it worse. Things such as informing my tutors of my stammer, asking for time and patience from academic staff and peers, as well as how joining sports clubs/societies all really helped me feel at ease.
One of the biggest challenges for me was public speaking. I hated it! Presentations in first year were an absolute nightmare. The feeling of speaking in front of a large audience was incredibly daunting. Although this was one fear of mine, I knew putting myself into challenging situations would help build my confidence and overcome this fear. By the end of university, I felt confident speaking publicly, answering questions and presenting in front of large audiences. I found stepping out of my comfort zone helped me with my public speaking and to know it is fine to stammer in front of an audience. There is nothing wrong with that.
Being in these situations enabled me to learn how to control my stammer using various techniques I learned from speech therapy.
It was a real pleasure being able to talk to Ben and share my experiences as well as give advice. I found this to be very rewarding as I knew I had helped someone with a stammer. The more open you are about your stammer the more it become the norm, the way it should be!
Zain Ghani
Youth Panel Member