Written by Natalie
Odd I know. But I understand why other PWS wouldn’t want to be defined by their stammer and wouldn’t hope that when others thought or spoke about them that one of the first things they say is “do you know they stammer?”. I used to think like this too, but I have learned that all publicity, is good publicity (with respect of course), especially when you are trying to spread awareness.
I’ll give you a scenario; at work I come into contact with a lot of people within their workplace, when I leave I can almost guarantee that there have been a handful of people who have gone back to their work station, maybe been asked by a colleague where they have been and who I am, they will have answered the standard “That’s my assessor for my apprenticeship”, and they’ve probably then asked if I’m nice or even good, obviously they’ll have said “yes” (to the nice part at least!), then my learner has probably turned around and said “she has a stammer too you know” – now I can’t guarantee what follows this sentence but it won’t be all negative! Now the colleague may have asked further questions etc, but what’s important here is what my learner has done is carried my mission of raising awareness with them, and they don’t even know it – by sharing my story with their colleague they are helping me show people that PWS can do the job I do, teaching and training others and if anything they are going to remember me over other assessors because of my stammer, and to me that’s never a bad thing either.
This is just one example of how allowing others to potentially “define” you to others by your stammer – is not always a bad thing – unless they’re making a joke of it, but my position removes that because of my down to earth, person-centered approach with my learners.
I also think about the legacy I want to leave behind. When I have successfully completed an apprentice I hope they go on to remember me not just for how I helped them achieve their qualification but also for the fact I stammer, and I hope they will be forever mindful of peoples hidden (dis)abilities.
I think if everyone took the time to truly understand their stammers and go further then skin deep, then I feel there may be differing answers in the future. If we live our lives in the belief that stammering already has a definition, how are we supposed to challenge and change perceptions?
and so, I want to leave you with something to think about… Does stammering define us, or do we define stammering?