Embrace your quirks and accept yourself, teacher tells stammer sufferers

A teacher who struggled to speak as a child and teenager due to an acute stammer is urging fellow sufferers to “embrace their quirks”.

Adam Black, who has overcome his disability to land his “dream” job in a special needs school in Glasgow, said people must try and accept who they are to help them thrive.

The 28-year-old, a member of Giffnock South Parish in East Renfrewshire, has decided to speak out to mark International Stammering Awareness Day tomorrow.

Adam Black
Former Boys Brigade leader, Adam Black, is a member of Giffnock South Parish Church in East Renfrewshire.

The neurological condition, also known as stuttering, is typically recognised by a tense struggle to get words out, often involving hesitations and repetitions.

Self acceptance

Earlier this year, Mr Black was presented with a British Citizen Award at the Palace of Westminster for his work to reduce the stigma attached to the disability, which affects 1% of the adult population in the UK.

“Growing up with a stutter was tough and I struggled through school,” he said.

“I couldn't say what I wanted to and in turn it meant I couldn't be the person I wanted to be.

“It's a funny thing to grow up being someone you know you're not.

“The impact it had on me was one of loneliness, even with all my friends and family.

“As far as I was concerned, I was the only person I knew who wasn't able to be the person they wanted to be and it was all down to stammering.”

Mr Black qualified as a teacher in 2010-11 and taught at Carmunnock and Shawlands primary schools in Glasgow before taking up his current post at Eastmuir Primary School in the Shettleston area of the city in August.

He said he has overcome his stammer to the extent that he does not let it impact on how he lives his life.

Mr Black said: “I'm not cured and have experience to work hard to keep controlled eloquent speech.

“But I've certainly overcome all the negative connotations around my stammering.”

Assertive

Mr Black became part of a therapy method called the McGuire Programme in 2007, which is all about self-acceptance of a person who stammers through non-avoidance.

“It changed my life and totally changed my perspective of the world,” he added.

“By actively accepting yourself as a stammerer and showing people that you are then you have some control over it and not the other way around.”

Mr Black said he uses physical techniques like breathing in a different manner and being assertive on certain sounds and words.

“My message to any young person who has a stammer is to accept yourself for who you are,” he added.

“Embrace your quirks.

“The sooner I did that the better I felt in every way.”

Inspire

Mr Black, who was a leader in the 254th Giffnock South Boys Brigade for 10 years, said he was really enjoying his new job.

“It is going great, I love it.

“Working with children with additional needs has long been a dream of mine and I'm now doing it.

“If I can make their life better by being a great teacher then I'm happy to be making a difference in this world.

“I hope my story of overcoming something which had such a negative impact on my early and teenage life will be of some inspiration to others.”