Ever since he was a young boy McGuire Graduate Chris Wilton has shaken off callous jeers and taunts due to a speech impediment. He recently spoke to The Western Gazette about his experiences of stuttering and the McGuire Programme.
From the age of nine, he spent years avoiding saying certain words and was often too scared to talk at all. But after a course of therapy changed his life and opened the door to a dream career in education, the Yeovil maths teacher has vowed to help others struggling with speech.
My stammer affected what social situations I would put myself into…
He said: “It was difficult growing up. My stammer affected what social situations I would put myself into and I always asked myself whether I should confront it or just run away. “It was easier to run away, and that was my major mistake.
In hindsight, it was not the way forward. “I want to try and offer those suffering from stammers or speech impediments a light. They don’t have to struggle alone and there is support out there for them. “It is not the monster people often think it is when they are younger.
You can feel like there’s nowhere you can turn and feel alone.” After years of trying to cope alone, at the age of 20 Mr Wilton signed up for the McGuire Programme which teaches sufferers how to use their diaphragm to ensure a smoother airflow over the vocal cords. He went on to complete a degree and qualify as a teacher, before embarking on his first teaching job in Essex. He took on his current role at Buckler’s Mead School, Yeovil, in January 2010.
Mr Wilton said: “I used to work for B&Q and had to use the tannoy system, which was an absolute nightmare. “It was things like that which made me realise what a huge barrier not being able to express myself properly was. “Eventually I decided I didn’t want to use my speech as an excuse not to have the career I really wanted, so I went back into education. “Before the course, I had completely dismissed any ideas of getting a career. “I realised that if you come across as if you’re not bothered about your speech then other people aren’t bothered either. “I can now express myself pretty well, although there’s absolutely still room for improvement and I am still working on it.”
With a team of other recovering stammerers, Mr Wilton has organised an open day at The Castle School, Taunton, for those living with speech impediments to receiving help and support. The event will be held on Saturday, July 6 from 2 pm until 4 pm.
The team will be on hand to field questions from anyone struggling with speech impediments or stammers, while video clips will show the audience the progress that can be made by using a new way of speaking.
All of the organisers are in the same boat
“All of the organisers are in the same boat,” Mr Wilton said. “We all have grown up with stammers and struggled through the early part of our lives, but we all went on the McGuire Programme which has given us an element of control. “We hope the day will give people an insight into our lives, and the different journeys we have been on growing up with speech impediments.”
Credit: The Western Gazette