Neil Wallwin
Neil Wallwin
Down, Northern Ireland

First Course:
Galway, August 2012

I joined the McGuire Programme in August 2012 because I was in a place where all my negative speaking experiences were dictating who I was, how I behaved and communicated.

I didn't want to continue living a life forged from the emotions of anger, frustration, self hatred and rejection.

I have stammered all my life, from the day I said my first word. But my first memories of stammering were in primary school, 3rd grade. We had a new teacher that year, in the morning she would call the role.

When our names were called we had to say "Present Mrs X". Every day for a year I stammered uncontrollably saying "present". Pretty soon she would not call my name and just check if I was there.

I went through the phases we all probably did in primary school. They thought I was intellectually slow so I was put into a more basic class.
I would get my hearing checked regularly to see if I could hear properly as I didn't respond to questions. I didn't really take much notice of it in primary school as I was very overt still. But then came High school.

High school, is where they say you shape yourself for adulthood, well like all of us who stammer I was shaped through laughter, embarrassment and bullying.
This caused me to begin to use tricks and avoidances, becoming more and more covert. Sometimes people even said they thought I was cured, as I hadn't stammered in a while.

University was a similar experience; I was very reserved, avoided situations and had a plethora of tricks up my sleeve to avoid stammering. I would tap my feet, clap my hands, nod my head or pretend to be thinking or busy. After university I knew I had to do something, so I joined the McGuire Programme.

My first course was eye opening,
All these people have stammers and they all communicate so well. It was very alien to me, to think that a person who stammers can be an eloquent speaker and have so much confidence. This is what really drove me to work on my speech and become a coach. The support within the programme is immense; there is always a friendly ear to listen to you.

I would recommend the programme to anyone who stammers. It has transformed me from being driven by negative emotions to enjoy speaking and embrace the challenge that stammering brings.