Who Am I ?
I am Yousra Ouchen from Morocco. I am 26 years old, I work as a financial consultant and I stutter.
I’ve decided to participate in the event because I really want to tell people that stuttering is not always the problem that you might believe it is.
My story with stuttering
I can’t remember when I started stuttering, why I did it or even how. What I do remember is that, until the age of 17, I was stuttering but I was doing it openly, without having any psychological barriers, and without thinking about it all day.
However, once I started thinking about it and trying to figure out why I stutter, problems showed up in my life and then I started stuttering differently.
The fact is that we do stutter, but how we think about it is the real problem. Whether we stutter or not, we keep on breathing and carry on living our lives. However, when we stutter and think about it in a negative way, even though we continue breathing and living our lives, we may avoid doing what we want to do. We judge ourselves before others do; we make the wrong decisions and blame ourselves for that before others do, we stop doing what we want to do before others stop us. So we kind of tell others how to react towards stuttering.
Recently I understood that I have to accept my stutter, and if I do, then I will maybe find out how to deal with it.
I still sometimes have problems with acceptance, but I know that it’s not a big problem, because now I can stutter openly again, most of the time. I still avoid several situations but I also become happy when I do what I was avoiding before. So yes, maybe my progress is slow, but the important thing is that I am moving forward. I know that if I keep working on changing the ideas that I put in my head, then I could change how other people who don’t stutter think about stuttering.
The Moroccan Association of Stuttering (AMB, Association Marocaine du Bégaiement)
I recently joined a group of other people who stutter (PWS), to create the Moroccan Association of Stuttering, to keep in touch and be there for other PWS, to work with each other to accept that we stutter, change what we have always thought about stuttering and keep on living how we want to, without psychological barriers. We also want to help young PWS and remind ourselves that the important thing is to keep moving forward, even if it takes a lot of time and even if we stutter. The important thing is that we do what we want to do and not what we think we have to do, because we stutter. The other important objective is to explain stuttering to the public, and change all the incorrect ideas and perceptions about stuttering. We need to show the world that we can talk and we can handle it, even if we talk differently. The main goals of our association can be put in three words: unite, accept, change.
We focus now on building up confidence in PWS in Morocco, so they can speak freely about their stutter, without shame and without thinking about the reactions of others. We try to help each other with acceptance and at the same time we try to support each other through the program that we set up.
Our first program includes several exercises and speech therapy techniques that we have adapted to our needs. It includes breathing exercises, reading at different speech rates and improvisation.
We are still working on a public awareness component, where we will begin by defining stuttering in general and targeting parents and teachers by giving them tips and tricks to use with a child who stutters (CWS).
We’ve also made one short study which helped us to have an overall idea about how stuttering is understood in Morocco and how Moroccans think about PWS.
The International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD)
Since the creation of the association is recent, we are still working on ideas for the ISAD. But for now, we’ve decided to set up meetings between PWS during the week and also meetings with speech and language therapists (SLT).
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