|About the Author: My name is Andrea, I’m 25 and I’m a person who stutters. I live in Göteborg, Sweden and I’m currently working on a few projects within the stuttering community. I’m in the process of creating and launching a project I call #projektprata (www.projektprata.se), to raise awareness and give people who stutter in Sweden the opportunity to make their voices heard. I’m also active on social media where I write about stuttering. I’m passionate about advocacy and empowerment, and I like to talk about stuttering in any way that I can. You can find me on my blog www.andreasays.se and on Instagram @aandreasays!|
For translation purposes, projektprata is equivalent to ‘project talk’, but I’ll refer to it by its original name throughout this paper.
I’m always afraid I’ll turn silent again. For me, that was the worst part. Feeling like I didn’t have a voice, because it sounded different from everyone else’s. As if the blocks, the repetitions, the prolonging’s were so ugly, so horrendous, it had to be hidden away and I didn’t have another option than to stay quiet. I couldn’t let people see the horrible truth, that I had a stutter. Don’t look at me, cover your eyes, your ears, hide your kids, I swear it’s not contagious.
There’s a lot of ugly in the world. But I’ll tell you why having a stutter is not.
My nephew turned three in June and he waits for me to finish speaking when I stutter. Sometimes he’ll check in with me when I do to see if I’m okay, and I’ll put a hand on the back of his head to assure him that I am.
I see my dad’s eyes shine when I speak about the things that makes me happy. I’ll talk and talk and talk and he’ll make sure to listen because he knows about the years when I didn’t.
I heard over a hundred different kinds of stutter this summer. I used to only hear mine. I get stuck on vowels a lot, sometimes also D’s, B’s, N’s, M’s, V’s, J’s, and yeah, sometimes the whole freaking alphabet. The perplexing beauty of it is that it doesn’t always sound the same, just like with everyone else’s stutter. They are all different, all in its own, and it’s only when we speak our truth that we’re lucky enough to hear them.
That’s why I’m launching #projektprata.
#Projektprata will give people who stutter in Sweden the opportunity to make their voices heard. It’s time we start conversations about how people talk. It’s time to blur out the lines of what is considered ‘normal’ in ways of communicating and to create an inclusive environment for people with speech impediments. Stuttering is hardly ever talked about and when it does it’s usually about “overcoming” or finding a “cure” – when in reality it’s how some people just talk. So, let’s #talk about it.
It’s not ugly, it’s not bad. Sometimes it’s hard and it challenges us in a lot of different ways throughout our lives, but it doesn’t define us nor should it define the choices we make. We’ve stayed silent and we’ve put up with a lot; we’ve feared things like introducing ourselves, ordering a coffee and making phone calls. I think when we start talking about the things that scare us, we can let some of that fear go and learn from it – and teach others about it, too. How it’s not cool to laugh at someone who stutters. How belittling it can be to have someone else finish your sentence for you. How present you can be with someone when you really take the time to listen. And how it’s really, truly, okay to stutter.
#Projektprata will take the form of a website, a platform for people to talk about stuttering in different ways. It will be a place for people to be supported and empowered wherever they are in their journey and somewhere for them to come together as a community. Everyone is welcome, either to share or learn about stuttering, as a way of closing the gap between people who stutter and those who don’t.
Sometimes taking that first step towards talking about stuttering is the hardest thing we can do. But when we do, oh, when we do, we’ll never stop #talking.
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