Stammering Activism

“Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in social, political, economic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society toward a perceived greater good.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activism

 

Note: Stammering and Stuttering are the same thing. Different words are used in different cultures.

 

Stigma


People who stammer, and to a large extent their families too, are subject to widespread stigma that can result in them feeling inferior. Further results of this stigma include shame of stammering, guilt at not being able to cure oneself of stammering, fear at the prospect of stammering and the reactions of others, and anxiety about stammering in specific situations. To try to survive this onslaught of negative beliefs and feelings, we often try to hide our stammer, leading to a struggle whose pain and intensity can vastly outweigh that of stammering itself. Unfortunately, some of us are all too often successful at hiding our stammering and this leads to further anxiety and fear, as we dread being found out. Such interiorised, or Covert stammering, is exhausting as we never simply speak but always plan how we will avoid stammering when we have no choice but to speak. This can lead to disconnection as for example, we might not listen to the person with whom we are speaking, and instead be busy planning how to react and respond, and how to further avoid being found out.

It is clear the experience of stammering can be accompanied by great suffering. All too often we feel that we do not have a choice in the matter, and that our suffering is assured as we are consumed by the belief that stammering is bad and/or by the belief that if we stammer then rejection and abandonment will surely follow. Parents of children who stammer often suffer from the belief that their child will not have a successful future, imagining that the child will not be able to work, to study, to engage in interpersonal relationships. Those beliefs are absorbed by the child who then tries more and more to avoid stammering. It’s the classic vicious circle.

 

Change


We can and we need to change this situation. The truth is that stammering is neither bad nor good, but rather it is simply the way that we speak. So, we need to realise that we can change this situation and stop being subject to the false stigma linked to stammering. We do this by taking action. This is what we mean by “Activism”: taking action to create the social reforms needed to make the world a better place for people who stammer and their families.

Among other goals, we strive to create a world that understands and accepts stammering. In such a world:

  • People who stammer and their families do not feel isolation, fear, shame, guilt or hopelessness regarding stammering

  • Children who stammer will not avoid showing the world their strengths, and will participate and lead

  • People who stammer will not only survive, but will thrive and reach their full potential, stammering openly without stammering being an obstacle

  • People who do not stammer do not judge people who stammer because of the way we talk. In such a world the content of our communication is the value while how we talk, whether we stammer or not, is irrelevant

 

Activism


Changing society requires action, it requires Activism. We are not necessarily talking about chaining ourselves to the gates of Parliament or the palace of the ruling class, but rather action that reflects self-acceptance, assertiveness in our right to stammer and to be heard, demands for society to change, and, perhaps foremost, educating ourselves and others about what stammering really is (and what it is not). Bullies lose their power when the object of the bullying either fights back or does not care. When someone says to us that we cannot do something or other because we stammer, can we respond with confidence and compassion with a clear “No, my friend, you are incorrect”?


Join us at STAMMAFest Global 2022 to discuss ideas for Activism, for actively changing thoughts and beliefs about stammering, in ourselves and in society at large.


Hanan Hurwitz

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