Dear Diary – Page 19 (Late 1950’s – Stammering)

I was going to Walton Junior School when I developed a stammer. I had difficulty starting a sentence with certain letters.

A hard C sound (as in cat) was always a challenge and, given my name, was a source of much embarrassment. I don’t know how many times I was asked what my name was, and the result would invariably be a long and broken C..C……..C…………C…. Colin.

The school made arrangements for me to see a speech therapist at the school on a weekly basis which was even more embarrassing, because I was called out of class at the appropriate time and everybody knew where I was going.

I do not recall any improvements as a result of the therapy. They told me to stop and think about what I wanted to say, before I started saying it. In retrospect, did they totally miss my problem with my name? What was there to think about when asked for my name?

That really did not resolve anything and my Mum remembered being told “He’ll probably grow out of it.” I did not grow out of it for many years but did eventually (much later) manage to accommodate it. I only stammered if my first word started with a “problem sound” so, in a situation where I was asked my name, my response would be “my name is Colin.”

Relatives, work colleagues and other people were now dropping by more frequently, and it was very unnerving and embarrassing when a greeting included not only a hug (we did not hug as a family) but also “Oh what a lovely little lad ….. what’s your name sonny?” Peers were no different “So what’s your name?”   I had however, already discovered a world that did not involve the trauma of trying to say one’s name, and the interest had been triggered years earlier in Bridlington* as a four year old. Trains!

Footnote: While the problem is now well in the past, every now and then (and when I least expect it) I will still “trip up” over a particular sound!

*See “Dear Diary – Page 2” – May 14, 2015

13 thoughts on “Dear Diary – Page 19 (Late 1950’s – Stammering)

  1. Hi Colin. First thanks for the follow. Second I learnt one lesson working with a stammerer – never complete their sentences. John was my boss for a time and struggled, when stressed with the ‘sh’ sound. We had had a particularly difficult meeting (we being lawyers) and our clients were not best pleased with how the negotiations had gone, failing to understand that their inconsistent instructions were the cause of the difficulties. John put down the phone and said. ‘Clients can be sh… sh… sh…’ We waited as he struggled. Eventually one of my junior colleagues said ‘shits’. John shook his head hard. ‘Nooooo… Sh… sh.. shambolic’ Lovely post.

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  2. I can’t relate to stammering but I know 2-3 people that stammer as adults and at times they don’t stammer at all. It is mostly when they are excited are stressed. But what ever the cause of stammering I only know that it is believed to be from a number of factors and it affects men more than women.

    As a young child in school it had to have been extremely difficult in situations where you were required to speak in class or give your name. I can only imagine how stressed you were at various times while in school.

    One thing that has always struck me as remarkable is that people who stammer can sing perfectly with no stammering emerging at all. Perhaps you have heard of the country singer Mel Tillis who has a pretty severe stammer. He has a wonderful voice and has actually made a joke about stammering- all to his advantage.

    Ultimately you learned how to deal with your stammer and turned a potential liability into an asset by focusing on your love of trains.

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