Emily Reader spent a day with TikToker Georgia Scott to find out what it's like to live with a stammer
A TikToker has turned a past of "hating herself" because of her stammer into a life of embracing it and inspiring others.
Georgia Scott, who posts under the name ge0rgiatalks, raises awareness about stammering and challenges some of the misconceptions around it to an audience of around 280,000 followers.
What is a stammer?
Stammering is when you repeat sounds or syllables, you make sounds longer, or a word gets stuck or does not come out at all. It varies in severity from person to person, and from situation to situation.
While research is ongoing into what causes it, we do know that it is neurological rather than psychological. Things like stress and anxiety can make it worse in some cases, but it is a myth that they are the root causes.
She began stammering at the age of five, and says that made growing up really hard.
"My earliest memory is when I had to read a sentence out of a book at school and I just remember my whole class laughing," she said.
"It made me so, so self-conscious, so from then on I just never spoke - I'd never ask for help in class or anything like that because I just thought it's so hard for me to speak out and then have everyone make fun.
"I hated myself and I hated anything to do with my speech. I grew up thinking that no one would ever understand or accept me."
'Growing up was really hard'
She decided to set up her online accounts after going through a particularly bad patch, but says doing so has changed her whole outlook on it as she's been overwhelmed with the amount of support and positivity she's received.
"I thought, I have to show everyone else how much a stammer can affect someone. There was a lack of awareness and lots of misconceptions around stammering as well.
"I've had some really nice comments where people say 'you've helped me'. Now I'm encouraged and I'm embracing my stammer.
"I'd like to think it's inspiring to other people to not letting anything hold them back."
Georgia demonstrates the struggle of talking on the phone as a person with a stammer
STAMMA, formerly the British Stammering Association, works to create a better world for people who stammer by supporting them and those close to them, as well as helping workplaces become more inclusive.
Neha Shaji from the charity says one of their core goals is advocating for the right to stammer, rather than the need to overcome it - something she thinks Georgia does well in her videos.
"She mingles stammering activism with lifestyle or influencer content, so she shows her navigating her stammer, but she also shows her living her best life alongside a stammer rather than despite it," Neha said.
She continued: "If the world of stammering representation only focuses around people who have managed their stammer into near fluency and if that is being taken as the win, that will just make thousands and thousands of people feel excluded from this narrative of progress now expected of them.
"So we want people to be stammering at coffee shops and at restaurants - we want the world to accept that rather than expecting it to be fixed.
"The goal isn't really fluency or to make people impressed about how well we hide our differences, it's to push stammering into centre stage."
'We want people to be stammering - the goal isn't fluency'
Based on their own experiences of living with a stammer, Neha and Georgia both also offered up some tips for fluent speakers when having conversations with someone with a stammer.
1. Be patient - don't try and finish sentences
Neha: "It's actually something that a lot of people with stammers share - people speaking over them and finishing their sentences - often in a misguided well meaningness. But how do you know what I was going to say?"
2. Maintain natural eye contact
Neha: "I know for some people that can be uncomfortable to hear someone struggle to get their words out, however it is just human to look someone in the eye if you can."
3. Value what they have to say
Neha: "Don't assume just because someone stammers they don't have anything of worth to say."
4. Ask questions
Georgia: "It's normal to ask questions, so ask away!"
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