On occasion one hears about courageous people who stutter (PWS) who tackle their dysfluency head-on, taking on challenging jobs requiring sophisticated speaking skills. An example is the Autumn 2010 issue of Speaking Out, the magazine of the British Stammering Association ( www.stammering.org ), in which a determined 2nd year law student wrote about his decision to become a barrister (known as a trial lawyer in the USA, and an advocate in some other countries) - a job requiring excellent public speaking skills and the ability to speak when under stress.
In the same issue of Speaking Out, the editor wrote: " ... people who stammer may also limit themselves in terms of what careers they think are possible ... I hope one thing Speaking Out and the BSA website can do is help get over the message that there are people who stammer successfully doing jobs that many would think they are excluded from, and if you really want to do something then seriously consider going for it, stammer or not."
The above comments may contain some truth. However, these successful PWS's should not be regarded as role models for other PWS's. My own view:
- Firstly, I take my hat off to PWS's who take on challenging jobs requiring excellent speaking skills. But this does not mean that I should follow in their footsteps, and I should not feel pressurised to do so or feel inadequate or guilty because I haven't done so. PWS's differ from each other. We have different personalities, different forms of stuttering and stuttering severity, and different stress and tension patterns.
- It follows that some PWS's may never really improve their fluency, so that the progress made by some will be out of reach for others. Real progress depends on many, many factors.
- It is always interesting and fruitful to hear about other PWS's who have succeeded in overcoming or successfully managing the disorder, and certainly much may be learnt from them. Their success, however, should not tempt us to compare ourselves with them. There is a fine line here which should not be crossed.