Author Stephen Hill from The How To Stop Stammering Centre www.stammering-stuttering.co.uk www.stutter-stuttering.com www.stutter-cure.com
How my stutter started
I was born in Birmingham, England on September 13th 1973. I was third child of Angela and Robin, my brother Gavin was six and my sister Sharon was four. My parents, brother and sister are all fluent, so it was a shock to everyone when I started to stutter at age of four.
After I was born my mother decided to leave work to look after me and up until age of four there were no faults in my speech.
At age of four she felt it was time for her to return to work and a friend of family offered to pick me up from school, take me to her house, look after me, and even feed me until my mother was ready to pick me up at around 6.30pm. Her name was Jean and she had a son who was in my class at school called Graham.
Being looked after by Jean was not something that worried me; I liked her and Graham and was actually quite looking forward to going to their house. So Jean picked us up from school and we walked back to her house where me and Graham played football in back garden. At around 5pm evening meal was ready and Jean called us into house, this is where things started to go horribly wrong.
In my family at meal times we would collect our plate from table and were allowed to take it to whichever room we wanted to or even into garden to eat food, very laid back and this is what I was used to. However in Jean’s house they ate in a dining room around a dining table, this of course should not be a problem but it turned out to be start of my stutter.
Graham led me into dining room where I saw a very well presented dining table with two knives, two forks, two spoons (why do you need two? I wondered). There were serviettes, tablemats, even flowers, there were people sitting around table who I had never met before, Graham’s father, older brother and older sister and it seemed like they were all staring at me.
I sat down at table feeling rather uncomfortable and then various people started to ask me different questions about myself, “What’s your name?”, “Which football team do you support?”, “What’s your favourite subject at school?” etc. I felt under great pressure and found it very difficult to get words out. I was aware I had not spoken properly but was unsure as to why.
How people react especially adults when a person first stutter’s is very important. If they over-react or panic this can have an adverse effect on that person. I distinctly remember Graham’s older sister laughing which made me feel very embarrassed. Jean rose from table and picked up telephone, which was in same room and started dialling a number. Why is she making a phone call during meal? Why doesn’t she wait until after meal I thought to myself. Then I heard her asking for Mrs Hill, my mother of course. Why is she phoning my mother? Now last thing my mother wanted on her first day at work was a call from Jean saying there was a problem with me.