Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Millions of Real Heroes

I have had to deal with stuttering for thirty years, but tried to achieve as much as possible despite, and spent a lot of time blogging on stuttering and research.

YOU ARE THE REAL HERO. You have lived with the daily challenges of stuttering but do not resign and live your life. You are a parent of a child who stutters, and do your best to help. You are a therapist who has specialised in stuttering and spend your time and efforts to help people who stutter with passion and beyond your professional call of duty. You are a researcher who cares about understanding stuttering better.

Please send me your picture with a short sentence describing yourself and your relationship to stuttering!! And I will post them. To tom dot weidig at gmail dot com. And you will be one of the millions of real heroes featured of my blog! Send me a smiling picture! I am starting this new blogging idea based on my last post!


Anonymous said...

The problem is that if anyone ever finds a photo of one of your readers on some blog with a caption saying "I am a hero!! I've overcome the limitations of my disability!!", they'll think less of the person. Not because they stutter, but because it looks like they're the type of person who needs to tell themselves that they're a hero in order to cope with their disability. That's a sign of weakness.

Tom Weidig said...

I do not feel an ounce of weakness and nor does anyone else. You are weak because you seem to be scared to be open about your stuttering.

It is about being one of the millions who heroically brace the daily challenges of stuttering.

They do not resign but live active and productive lives despite their handicap!!

And it is also about those who sacrifice much of their time and efforts in helping us; the parents, the therapists and the researchers. Though I may not always agree with them on issues, there is no doubt that they show enormous dedication which needs to be honored, too!

Leys Geddes said...

Having some kind of Speaking Out Award is an interesting idea, Tom. It would be useful because, as Stuttering World has no money, it relies a great deal on unpaid volunteers to spread the word. To make things even more difficult, we are trying to create awareness of a condition which most of us are trying to hide. So speaking out needs to be encouraged and rewarded, if not financially.

The Weidig Awards might be a popular concept in some quarters but, if we wanted it to be A Really Big Thing, it would need to be international, authoritative, entirely impartial and run properly. So, to help with the funding, it would probably need a sponsor who, ideally, should have a track record in encouraging people at least to talk and, hopefully, to speak out. Ideally, this track record should be recognised by stutterers and, very importantly, non-stutterers, because we would want the Outside World to pay attention.

Any suggestions?


O said...

And the winners are...all the stutterers in the whole world.

Pam said...

Like Tom's idea, and Leyes reaises an intersting point as well.

As I mentioned previously,and some of us have jokingly referrred to, if the NSA or SFA wanted to spend some money and come up with new posters, featuring non-famous people who stutter leading meaningful lives, I think that would be a great start.

Have a mix of kids, teens and adults who stutter and those that are about stutterers.

Anne said...

Pam, how do you envision the posters looking? What would you say on them? I believe the NSA does have something like that, or did at one time.

Tom, great site. Has anyone on here ever been to an NSA conference? It is so great to be in the presence of so many people who stutter. It is the only organization that offers that opportunity, except Friends also offers this for kids.

Tom Weidig said...

WAIT! Where are your pictures??? Send them to me with a sentence about stuttering and yourself.

I will post all pictures.

Send them to tom dot weidig at gmail dot com!

Tom Weidig said...

Actually they once took pictures of people who stutter at a German stuttering conference.


Tom Weidig said...

Actually I was not thinking about an award but just people sending me their picture and I publish it.

Pam said...

I have beento both NSA and Friends conferences. I amgoing to NSA in AZ in 2 weeks,co-presenting a workshop Pushing Past The Fear.

In Tampa, at end of July, at Friends, I will be co-facitilating a workship with a wonderful 14 year old girl. We are going to askthe kids to "tell their stories", what would you like your friends, parents, teachers, movie clerk, etc, to know about your stuttering. We are going to create a Youtube page and upload them.

Shold be fun, and kids need a medium to tell their story, and use the technology they know so well.

Pam said...

Anne, re: the posters. Just like the SFA does its famous people, except it would be everyday people. Like me, with a simple caption saying high school career counselor, Derek -college biology professor, Jamie -small business owner, David -lawyer, James - doctor, Marc -college student, Mary-day care provider.
I think that would have much more meaning to the average person who stutters, than the pro football players and movie stars that make millions of dollars.

Anonymous said...

Tom, you really think "no one else" feels an "ounce" of weekness? Didn't you state in a previous post that you still have feelings of embarassment and shame related to your stuttering sometimes? (as almost all stutterers do)

It's not just about "being one of the millions who heroically brace the daily challenges of stuttering". If it were just about that, then people would just go about their lives instead of feeling the need to proclaiming themselves a hero.

It seems to me that a need to say "I'm a hero!!" is a reaction to something. It serves to make the person saying it feel good about themselves. They'd only need to do it if it was not easy for them to feel good about themselves otherwise.

(There are other explanations to: you could be starting this effort mainly in order to try to help other stutterers feel good about themselves, not because you particularly feel better about yourself when claiming to be a hero. I think this is pretty likely in your case, so don't take this as an insult).

Tom Weidig said...

I absolutely feel no weakness by saying that I or other stutterers are heroically managing their life despite the handicap. In fact, it is courageous to make this statement and out yourself as someone who stutters and reveal a weakness.

And everyone I ever talked to said that they admire my or other stutterers' achievements despite their handicap.

So what should we say? That we are the poor victims. Give me a break. I suggest you tell your theories to the little kids who start stuttering.

As I said before. I am not saying I am a hero but one of a million other heroes.

Why should they not feel proud about themselves? We are having to deal with a lot every single day. So can we not be honored for this?

You seriously get on my nerves.

Anonymous said...

This is a good idea, and I'm glad I suggested it :). And Olivier said it well when he said, "And the winners are...all the stutterers in the whole world"

I won't send you a photo because I'm afraid that Leys might get his hands on it, and use it as a dart board :)
Leys said that we need these "Weidig awards" because we "would want the Outside World to pay attention". Are you suggesting that stutterers are in a different world? We are not! You will find stutterers in all walks of life. The BSA has been linking itself with disability groups such as the RNIB and RDIB. Blindness and deafness are real disabilities - stuttering is not! I stutter and I am not disabled. And all of the stutterers I know would not consider themselves disabled. If the BSA continues to misrepresent stutterers as disabled, what message does that send to young kids who stutter? That we are disabled and in need of concessions? This is another reason why I won't be donating a single penny to the BSA.

Norbert @ BSA said...

"If the BSA continues to misrepresent stutterers as disabled, what message does that send to young kids who stutter?"

Not sure where you'd find a statement from BSA that all people who stammer are disabled? BSA's positon is quite clear - we cannot make a judgment whether your stammer disables you (in the sense that disability is used under the DDA) as everyone's stammering is different. I don't feel my stammer disables me - but I know enough people who stammer whose stammering is debilitating and disabling.

What we will say is that society's attitude can be disabling - for example if someone thinks you cannot do a specific job because of your stammer which is why we believe that people who stammer should have protection against discrimination under the DDA.

I suspect it's rather like the current case of young woman taking Abercromby to court for being discriminated against on account of being born without a forearm. I doubt she'd regard herself as disabled.

"This is another reason why I won't be donating a single penny to the BSA."
One would be interested what the other reasons are?

Anonymous said...


You wrote:
"Not sure where you'd find a statement from BSA that all people who stammer are disabled?"

That's not what I said. I said that Leys Geddes has actively been associating stuttering with disability. I find this totally wrong and counterproductive. In fact, I am disgusted. Imagine if a young kid who stutters gets the impression that stuttering is a disability similar to blindness and deafness (which are real disabilities). Leys wrote the following post last week (June 25th) on the Yahoo stutteringchat group (I can't add Leys' entire post here because it's too long):

Speaker's Conference hears from Scope, RNID, Leonard Cheshire, British
Stammering Association and Chris Holmes MBE.

Tue, 23 June 2009 | DeHavilland Report - Parliamentary Committee


The selection process must be changed to help disabled people enter
politics, MPs heard today.

The Speakers conference heard evidence from;

* Mr Chris Holmes MBE, Paralympic swimmer and lawyer, RNIB
* Ms Agnes Hoctor, Campaigns Manager, RNID,
* Mr John Knight, Head of Policy Campaigns, Leonard Cheshire,
* Ms Abigail Lock, Scope,
* Mr Leys Geddes, British Stammering Association

Opening the session, vice-chair, Labour MP, Anne Begg asked what barriers
prevented disabled people from being elected to office.

The lack of disabled people in top positions reflected how the community
perceived disabled people, Mr Chris Holmes replied, noting the limited
opportunities for disabled people to participate at the recent European
Organisations must do more to encourage disabled people into politics, Mr
Geddes responded, but society also had to be more receptive to people with
The invisibility of disabled people in politics was the pressing issue to
address, Mr Geddes said.

Norbert said...

Well, on that note I have to say that
(a) many people who stammer regard their stammer as a disability. You clearly do not, and that is your choice and your own personal situation.
(b) you state that, for example, deafness is a 'real' disability - I beg to differ. There are many deaf people who do not regard their deafness as a disability. Rather, they see others who, like me, do not speak sign language as disabled as we are not able to communicate with them.

I am sorry you feel disgusted by the thought that your stammer might be a disability but I suppose that, like your anonymous status here, says more about how you approach and deal with your stammer in your own sphere. I have yet to meet a stammering child who was concerned about whether or not their stammer fulfils the legal requirement of a disability - actually, I would hazard the guess that most of them would feel kind of relieved: it means that their are not to blame for their speech.

Again, let me reiterate - BSA does not say that every stammering is a disability. Stammering can be disabling, though, and the Act that regulates this in the UK is called the Disability *Discrimination* Act. Even if you do not feel disabled by your stammer, we will do everything we can to ensure that, as far as possible, no person who stammers is discriminated against on account of their stammer. In this matter, we have common cause with other organisations such as Scope etc so it makes sense to work together.

Anonymous said...


you said:

"many people who stammer regard their stammer as a disability."

Just because a stutterer sees himself as disabled does not mean he is really disabled. I work with disabled people every day - people confined to wheelchairs. They do not have the luxury of having a choice about whether they regard themselves as disabled. Sure some (most) may lead full lives, but they still require help. Same goes for blind people and deaf people. For example, deaf people cannot make telephone calls, so they rely on some special services to help them.
In the case of a stutterer, he may not be able to speak fluently, but he can still get his message across and has no need for any help. If you think that stutterers are disabled, then you may also think that obese people are also disabled and in need of funding from society.
As I said, Leys Geddes' campaign of promoting stuttering as a disability (which requires special concessions from society) disgusts me.

You also made reference to my anonymous status by saying that it
"says more about how you approach and deal with your stammer in your own sphere."

It says nothing of the sort. I remain anonymous for reasons that are not of your concern. Whether I am anonymous or not makes no difference. It's the message that counts.

One good thing has come out of my discussions with Leys Geddes. He introduced me to the Donkey Sanctuary. I got paid yesterday, and I will be donating some money to them this week.

Norbert said...

Not sure why I bother, but here it goes:

"Just because a stutterer sees himself as disabled does not mean he is really disabled."

What is 'really disabled' is not a matter of your judgment, or your anecdotal evidence, but it in this instance a matter of law. A disability according to the DDA is something that has a substantial, adverse and long-term effect on one's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Now, there's a person that I know who uses a fluency aid and has done so for many years. Even using the aid, he is still very dysfluent. Telephone calls without it are a virtual impossibility. I would class making a telephone call as a normal day-to-day activity, wouldn't you? Ergo, his stammer has a significant, adverse and long-term effect on day-to-day activities, hence it is classed as a disability. Now, my stammer does not affect my ability to carry out day-to-day activities and hence I am not disabled by it. However, as my stammer can still be noticeable I, like my friend, may be discriminated against by all kinds of people which is what the Act is trying to address.

That's all there is to it, really.

"It says nothing of the sort. I remain anonymous for reasons that are not of your concern. Whether I am anonymous or not makes no difference. It's the message that counts."

Being anonymous on this forum *is* a message.

Anonymous said...


"Not sure why I bother, but here it goes:"

That was a very rude way to begin your response. In my experience, rudeness is a sign of stupidity.

You and Leys obviously have ulterior motives. I put it to you that you are associating BSA with real disability groups as a cynical attempt to raise more money. You believe that by jumping on the disability bandwagon, you can get a share of the disability money. In the meantime, the message you are portraying to society is that stuttering is synonymous with disability. This is hardly the message that the BSA should be sending out, and that's what disgusts me so much. I sincerely hope that you fail miserably in this venture.

I have a little story to share. It's a story that changed the course of my life, even though it may seem trivial to a lot of people.
When I was 22 years old, I was contacted for jury duty. I was required to fill out a form and return it within a few days. I suddenly panicked because I thought that jury duty would involve a lot of talking, and I was a stutterer. All my life I had avoided speaking situations because I feared ridicule, and now this jury duty was another undesirable problem. But I saw an escape. On the form, there was a question which went something like, "do you have a disability that would affect your role in a jury?". I quickly ticked the "yes" box, and explained that I have a stutter. After all, I reasoned, I am disabled because I can't speak like everybody else. Two weeks later, I received a call from the courts saying that a stutter is not a disability, and that I should front up for jury selection within a month. To cut a longish story short, I turned up, was selected for a jury, and went through the entire process. It turned out to be a very interesting time. Yes, there was some talking required, and yes I did stutter (at times quite severely), but nobody in the jury appeared to mind. As I said, it was a very interesting time, and I never again avoided speaking situations.

A person with a severe stutter may, at times, feel disabled. But it is not a disability in the sense that blindness, deafness (total deafness) and quadriplegia are. I've had a severe stutter for most of my life, but would never dream of passing myself off as disabled. What next? Should overweight people be classed as disabled because they can't climb a flight of stairs as nimbly as skinny people?
And before you get started talking about discrimination - lots of people get discriminated against, not only stutterers. People get discriminated on the basis of race, appearance, age, religious beliefs ... and more.

"Being anonymous on this forum *is* a message."

I wonder what message you imagine hearing. Maybe you're imagining some sinister message? Or maybe you're imagining that I'm ashamed of revealing myself because I stutter? Or maybe you're imagining that I'm some prominent person or politician? Well, it's none of the above. On the internet, anonymity is often a good characteristic.

Norbert said...

"hat was a very rude way to begin your response. In my experience, rudeness is a sign of stupidity."

Somehow I get the feeling you personally have a lot of experience in coming across a great many stupid people in your life.

"This is hardly the message that the BSA should be sending out,......"

I would have thought someone who prefers orphaned donkeys over real people is in no position to decide what messages BSA should be sending out.

You seem to equate claiming "disabled status" with a kind of avoidance, an easy option to not having to do things. Other than being rather offensive to people you claim have a 'real' disability (are they all using it to get out of jury service, I wonder?), in this, as in so many other things you raised in this thread, you are wrong. BSA encourages everyone who stammers to take full part in life, in their community (such as jury service) and in every other walk of life - because we believe and because our members tell us and show us through their daily lives that we can. *Some* people who stammer will require *some* small adjustments (like being given extra minutes' talking time in front of a local government hearing) but they should speak up and be heard. I am sorry that you are incapable of understanding that but I cannot make it any clearer. I believe the possibilities of this discussion have been exhausted.

Anonymous said...


I don't understand why you are getting so agitated and offensive. I've expressed my opinion and I am entitled to do so, without your angry outbursts.

Just to recap:
My opinion is that stuttering is not a disability of the same league as blindness, quadriplegia and deafness. Everybody (non-stutterers included) sometimes feel disabled due to the limitations of their bodies, but the resources of the disability sector should only be used to help people with *real* disabilities. That's my opinion. Stutterers can usually get by just fine - even severe ones. I should know, because I've been one of the severe ones.
Of course some stutterers have been (and will continue to be) victims of discrimination in workplaces - but the same can be said for overweight people, ugly people, beautiful people, eccentric people, racially diverse people ... etc. But most countries have laws about equal opportunity to protect people from such discrimination. That's my opinion.
By actively promoting stuttering as a disability like blindness and deafness and quadriplegia, you are misrepresenting me.

I've listened to your arguments (and Leys' arguments) about the BSA's need for more funding, and I am thoroughly unconvinced and unimpressed. Every month I put aside money from my salary for various charities, which include ailments such as depression and heart disease, and also an overseas charity related to environmental issues. I have been stuttering for almost 50 years, and I would never donate a single cent to the BSA - simply because I believe that there are much more important causes in the world.

And then you have the sheer arrogance to say that I should have no right to express my opinion. You wrote:

"I would have thought someone who prefers orphaned donkeys over real people is in no position to decide what messages BSA should be sending out."

I can express my opinion whenever I like. Yes, I do prefer to donate money to help distressed donkeys rather than the BSA (by the way, donkeys are sometimes known as "asses"). However if you can convince me that you, Norbert of the BSA, are a distressed ass, then I might consider a donation. Oh, from the tone of your posts, it seems that perhaps you are a distressed ass ...

Rob said...

great site. I look forward to reading all your posts.


Fito Pardo said...

Interesting. Thank you Tom for this!

I am From Mexico City, I am Director of Photography for Motion Pictures, I have been severe stutterer for all my life, actually It started like when I was 6 or 8 years I don't really remember what was the age, I can tell you lots of things about it, but lets leave it short.

This is something we have to fix together stutterers, there is not a lot of people who really understand our problems.

But I have to tell:

After going to probably all the best Psychologists (in the world) that my parents find and wanted me to go to them, one day I just stop and did not wanted to go back to any one who did not understand truly the problem, I got to a lot of doctors who wanted to understand but did not knew nothing about it.

Well I can tell you for hours about the people who I encounter who really make me believe that they had the answer but they really did not had any Idea.

Ok, Then I was studying Cinematography in Los Angeles at UCLA and I found a really interesting acting course, I have to tell you I have taken all the workshops about speech speaking, speaking in public that I can, all my life, this problem did not stop me and never will.

I found this class called "Alexander Technique" I got to the class and I have to tell that this is the most interesting time, for me. I have been working with my therapist for years and have been relearning my problem, this therapist that worked with me, knew that Stuttering was not psychological (that was what I believe before this class) he explain me that my problem was normal and like blind people who born that way, us stutterers we are born this way.

After learning this. I start to really understand my body and really listening to it.

I practiced Yoga also and it helped a lot for me.

It was the first time I was totally Stutter free, and I really liked it!

Then I got back to Mexico City, and my life has been really interesting but very stressful, I haven't been practicing Yoga for the last 4 years because I got a Yoga accident, and I haven't been able to make time for my body, my job is very demanding and I work a lot in Mexico (I am kind of popular in mexico's film business).

Then It happened again!

For the last 10 days I can't speak the severe stuttering is back, I am starting to listen to my body again, Today I start doing some exercises, I am trying to talk a lot with my friends who understand my problem, I am telling them to let me talk and every time I stop and can't speak please remind me of what is happening so I can remember to take air in to my body again.

I have to tell you that now that all is back, I am realizing that this is my body screaming for help, and I have to listen now.

I am 38 Years Old, Mexican, cinematographer, I speak fluent English and I am learning German, I know that I can do this, but I have to remember to listen to my body.