Day 1 of the Challenge

It’s Day 1 of the Challenge and we have already raised over £500 for the Stroke Association! You can continue to donate and share our JustGiving page here:

Thank you so much to everyone who has already donated, we really appreciate it.

It’s Sarah here and for the Challenge I pledged to Voluntary Stammer for the week. Voluntary Stammering is not about pretending to have a stammer. The idea is to deliberately alter your fluency of speech, in order to feel in control of your fluency. As a person without a stammer, I generally have 100% fluency, so my challenge is to reduce that fluency to experience what it is like for people who stammer and are always dysfluent. There are several core behaviours of stammering – elongating (‘ssssssarah’), repetition (‘b..b..b..bottle’) and blocking (‘my name is……. Sarah’). I will be incorporating all of these core behaviours into my everyday speech.

The day started out quite well – I headed out to my local corner shop to buy some supplies for our pureed dinner party tonight and psyched myself up for some voluntary stammering. I handed my peas and wine to the shop assistant and asked if I could pay by card and if I could have a bag, all whilst voluntary stammering. The shop assistant didn’t really react at all, and I wasn’t sure whether he didn’t notice, or whether he didn’t really care. I was quite nervous about the interaction beforehand, so it was a surprise to find him completely nonchalant, and made me feel confident about my new pattern of speech.

However, my next experience was in Itsu where I went to buy some lunch. I asked the cashier if I could have avocado sushi and again if I could pay by card (even though I knew I could pay by card, but just wanted to ask something). This time, the cashier didn’t understand and asked me to repeat myself. I suddenly felt under huge pressure and wasn’t sure if I should continue to stammer, or whether I should revert to my normal speech. I was worried that my voluntary stammering didn’t sound very convincing and that she thought I was taking the mickey, and was also worried that other people were listening and would think I was being offensive. I probably went quite red at that point and said “um.. c…. can I….mm… pay by card?”. She had probably only asked me to repeat myself because I was speaking quietly, but it was enough to completely throw my confidence and worry that I was a fraud. I then paid and left the shop quickly!

This afternoon I have to make some phone calls so I will hopefully have some interesting responses from people on the other end of the line. Also, we are having a pureed dinner party later tonight, where we will be eating pureed food and drinking thickened wine (yum). I am looking forward to that, and will be voluntary stammering throughout the evening too. We’ll be putting photos of our food on here later, so come back for that!


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