Annelise van der Sandt
Bloemfontein, South Africa

First Course:
Bloemfontein, May 2005

I have been a stutterer since I started speaking. I remember certain grown-ups who always made big eyes at me and told me to speak properly. I was in grade 1 when the nurses visited the schools and one nurse asked me what my name was and I could not say it. After a while her patience had worn out and she shouted to the whole class if someone could help me say my name because I didn’t know what it was. My friends never teased or bullied me. Children were never the mean one’s… the adults were! I was so overwhelmed by fear that I started to hide my stutter and replaced feared words with words that I could say which did not always fit into the sentences that I was trying to say and I would turn my sentences around. This sounded bizarre and made me look incompetent. I also made as if I forgot the words so that people could finish my sentences for me. Although I have a very outgoing personality, I started to withdraw and only had one good friend so that I didn’t have to speak to many people on a daily basis. As I started to get older, and to fit into my real personality as a people’s person, I started to become the clown in our group just to act so that my speech would become the less obvious thing. I thought that I could make up for my speech with my personality. I was very popular but still it didn’t make me happy because I couldn’t say what was on my heart and only acted as if everything was always a joke. I couldn’t do an oral in class on my own but in a group and by acting I did great! This made me a wonderful team player but an even lousier individual. I couldn’t express myself as I would have loved to do. I tried different therapies, but they made no difference at all… until a family member saw an article in the local newspaper about the McGuire Programme. My first course was in 2005 and it turned my life around. I could finally say what was on my heart and this hasn't changed since I joined the programme. I recently did staff training and became a Primary Coach to keep myself working hard at the Sport of Speaking and to help people in my situation. Stuttering shouldn’t hold you back from your life’s purpose.