Make Room For The Stuttering

Paying It Forward – Male Episode 1

Posted on: June 2, 2011

This inaugural episode of men who stutter sharing HIStories is a risk for me. I am committed to providing a unique space for women to share, since we are the minority. And I do not wish to diminish in any way that which has turned out to be so special and unique.

But I have learned that all of our stories need to be shared. So after much thought, and encouragement from others,this space for men’s stories will appear monthly.

Episode 1 features Alan Badmington, a former police officer from Wales, in the United Kingdom. I first met Alan at an NSA Conference in Long Beach, CA in 2006. We have bumped into each other virtually in many places since.

The shy and retiring Alan shares his inspirational story from troubled childhood and adolescence with a severe stutter to difficulties encountered in his police career.

During the past 11 years, Alan has turned his life around to become an extremely active and highly successful public speaker. Alan regularly addresses diverse community organizations in an attempt to increase public awareness about stuttering.

Alan has traveled extensively to fulfill speaking engagements (and facilitate workshops) on three different continents, including a keynote speech at the 7th World Congress for People Who Stutter, held in Australia in 2004 (where he also won the individual oratory competition in which every continent was represented).

Listen in to our engaging conversation laced with humor, insight, and the universal issues of acceptance and change. We even get to listen to Alan share a poem!

Learn more about Alan from two of his many papers: How Beliefs and Self-Image Can Influence Stuttering and Two Things I Wish I’d Had Known About Stuttering When I was Younger.

The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to DanoSongs. Please leave feedback. I need to know if you enjoyed this conversation and would like to hear more stories with men who stutter.

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22 Responses to "Paying It Forward – Male Episode 1"

Who better to do the first Men Who Stutter podcast than Alan?! Well done Alan, as ever, you are an inspiration to me and to so many other people who stammer. 🙂

Pam,
It was a great pleasure to listen to Alan’s interview. As usual I marveled at your ability to gently guide the flow of conversation without judging or trying to push the person to one or another side of the issue – this what I like the best in your interviews. Many interviewers lack this quality. But also Alan’s story is very special for me, because two years ago when I read it first it inspired me greatly. You may not believe me, but before I started talking to other PWSs on Skype here in the US, I never met anyone who stuttered in the same way i did – with long blocks, from which there wasn’t an easy way out. I grew up before the internet age and even though I was in group therapy a lot, none of the kids I encountered, stuttered with such blocking. They all, every single one of them had it much lighter. So I believed that my stuttering is of particularly evil, persistent type and there is nothing I could do about it. Reading Alan’s description of his struggle and then triumph, I realized that there is indeed hope. This created momentum which allowed me to break through the initial difficulties. I might have given up if not for his story. I still hold him as my inspiration.
Anna

Hi Anna,

Thank you, so much, for your generous comments. I’ve already paid tribute to Pam’s unique interviewing skills in a separate response.

Having chatted (and corresponded) with you on many occasions during recent times, as well as reading your thought-provoking online writings, I feel sure that we are both ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’. 🙂

Like you, I’m convinced that the way in which we approach our stuttering is heavily influenced by our beliefs and self-concept. As I mentioned in the podcast, these create the script by which we act out our lives – they set the boundaries to our accomplishments.

Throughout my life, everything that I did was in accordance with what I believed about myself and what I thought I was able to do. This personal blue-print restricted me from undertaking many things that I considered lay outside my scope.

If we fail to confront our disempowering beliefs, they can imprison us. Many of us hold beliefs that are based upon inaccurate or irrational information. Even though they may not be true – because we accept them as authentic, they have a direct bearing upon how we think and behave. Our screening process filters out information that is inconsistent with our innermost beliefs.

What we believe about ourselves shapes the way in which we perceive the world. It influences our educational and employment paths; it determines our relationships and social interaction. But, most importantly, when we believe that we cannot do something, then it’s almost certain that we will not do it.

As you are well aware, I had long given up on my stutter, believing that it would continue to impose restrictions upon my life. The turning point came on April 1, 2000 when I witnessed a PWS speaking with such eloquence and enthusiam about how he had won several public speaking trophies. (It was such a significant occasion that the date is indelibly imprinted upon my memory).

From that moment onwards, my outlook (and life) changed. I finally had evidence that it is possible for someone with a stutter to live an extensive and fulfilling existence. The rest is history, as they say – I have since been making up for lost time. 🙂

Although our long-established beliefs may be deeply entrenched, it is important to understand that they are NOT set in stone. The realisation that I could reappraise (and adjust) my beliefs was hugely empowering and a cornerstone of the advances I have made during recent times.

I know (from our past exchanges) that you are well aware of the sentiments I have expressed in the preceding paragraph. In effect, I’m preaching to the converted. 🙂 However, I thought it might be useful to reiterate those points just in case they may be of interest to others who have occasion to read this post.

Anna, my friend, I’m heartened that the various documented accounts of how I dealt with my stuttering issues appear to have assisted you to reassess your beliefs about (and approach to) your own lifelong communication issues.

The gains that you have made during the past couple of years have been truly astounding. As I have opined on many occasions – you are a role model for many. We can all learn something (however small) from each other’s stories. That is why the Internet has become such a wonderful asset in enabling those who stutter to share their experiences.

Anna, thank you, once again, for taking the time to listen to the podcast and provide such positive feedback.

Kindest regards

Alan

Alan, it is so sweet of you to respond to every one and each comment. And thank you again for taking time to talk to me over the Skype on many occasions as well as respond to my posts in writing to cheer and support me in my journey. And by the way thank you for you supportive comments on my Russian Lady Macbeth performance:)
Anna

It’s a small, small stuttering world. Alan B was very inspirational. Please continue these Pam, every story is so varied that I don’t see any negatives in hearing a few male perspectives 😉

Hi Julia,

Thank you, so much, for your generous comments. I think we can all learn something from the stories that we share. I know that our paths have only crossed once (and then very briefly) but I am well aware of your sterling fund-raising efforts at the British Stammering Association.

Kindest regards

Alan

Alan, I loved hearing your story. I’m continually amazed at how much PWS have in common. I really enjoyed hearing you talk about expanding your comfort zone and working on not avoiding sounds, situations, words, ect.

Hi Sarah,

I’m delighted that you found my story of interest. You are correct when you say that many persons who stutter have common experiences. However, as I touched upon in my chat with Pam, we are all unique.

We come from different backgrounds and very often belong to different cultures. We have different life experiences; accumulate different degrees of emotional baggage; and commence our journeys from different starting lines. We operate in accordance with different belief systems, values and self-images. We also have different expectations and aspirations of what we will/can/wish to achieve in life. Dare I mention that we may also be of a different gender? 🙂

Consequently, it is difficult (and perhaps a little unhelpful) to compare ourselves with others – although I fully appreciate the observation that you make.

Avoidance strategies crept insidiously into my life and impacted immensely upon my stutter for so many years. I was unaware of the true extent of my dependence – it became such an integral part of my existence. Every time we avoid a word, letter, sound, or situation – the fear level increases.

When I became aware of the implications, I decided to address this issue by adopting a zero-tolerance policy to all kinds of avoidance. During recent times, the benefits have been enormous.

Sarah, I am most grateful to you for taking the time to listen to the podcast and provide with me feedback.

Kindest regards

Alan

Hi Pam,

I really enjoyed your interview with ALAN BADMINGTON! 😉 Alan, has been a mentor and a friend to me for the past 5 years and counting …:) He is such an inspiration and a beautiful soul – always there for positive feedback and support! He makes me feel like I can do ANYTHING – and I actually believe it! hahaha Thanks for sharing the interview with us!

Hi Julia,

It’s always such a pleasure to hear from you.

An immense volume of water has passed under the bridge since we first met in 2006. Wow! Your life has since been one endless exciting adventure – USA, Asia, Africa, Europe and very shortly yet another trip to Africa. Does your body clock ever regain normality? 🙂

No seriously, you are truly one of the most courageous individuals I have ever encountered. You thrive on challenges and refuse to allow your stutter to restrict what you undertake in life.

I’ll never forget speaking with you (on your cell phone) as you travelled to the television studio in your homeland to subject yourself to a live interview. As a result of your bold initiatives, the Pakistan Stammering Association was born.

Julia, thank you, so much, for your generous feedback, friendship and the reciprocal inspiration that I have gained from watching you grow as a human being.

I have no doubt that we will chat when you are on your forthcoming travels.

Fond regards

Alan

Wow! I’m really glad that you’ve invited a male guest for the very first time in your show Pam. And who better than Alan Badmington [i hope i’ve spelled it properly ;)]. The interview is really inspiring.

Vivek

Hi Vivek,

Thank you for your positive comments. I’m pleased that you enjoyed my exchanges with Pam.

And, yes, BADMINGTON is the correct spelling of my surname. 🙂 It’s amazing how many people omit the letter ‘G’.

Kindest regards

Alan

Congratulations Pam! Great you are expanding it. And I love the title!

Hi Pam,

I thoroughly enjoyed being interviewed by you in the inaugural episode of ‘HIStories’. They need look no further for a successor to Oprah Winfrey. 🙂

I’m heartened (and relieved) that there has been a positive response to your decision to invite a male to encroach upon the unique space that you have created for women.

In Star Trek parlance, it was indeed a privilege for me to venture into that space and be involved with the launch of a new ‘ENTERPRISE’. In effect, you permitted me to explore new frontiers and ‘BOLDLY GO WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE’. 🙂

Remaining on the theme of space, the Internet has impacted immensely upon the lives of many persons who stutter. Apart from disseminating a wide array of information, it also provides wonderful opportunities for us to share our unique experiences with like persons around the world.

The result is that most of us now possess a far greater understanding of the issues that have shaped our lives. We are also more aware of how different people react, as well as being better informed about the diverse paths that individuals have trodden. What’s more, we no longer feel alone.

I wish to stress that the route that I have taken is unique to me. I would never be so arrogant, or insensitive, as to suggest that others should attempt to follow in my footsteps. They were my choices and mine alone. We each have to accept responsibility for our own journey through life, and make whatever decisions we feel are pertinent, in accordance with our individual circumstances.

One of the most important messages that I wanted to convey is that life is far too short for us to allow a stutter to restrict us from leading an active and meaningful existence. I earnestly believe that we should live our life to the full, by approaching every day as though it were our last. Don’t just live the length of it – live the breadth of it too. We only get one bite of the cherry.

And, finally, I think it is most appropriate to reiterate the fact that a woman played an enormous part in enabling me to come to terms with my stuttering issues and achieve my true potential.

I am, of course, referring to my wife. Without her unfailing love, encouragement and support, I know that I would not be at the favourable place in my life that I now find myself. I owe her so much.

Those who have listened to the podcast will know that I undertake an extensive programme of talks to community organisations in an effort to increase greater public awareness about stuttering. I conclude every talk with the following verse:

My stutter has been such a load
In childhood, the first seeds were sowed
But, thanks to my wife
I have a new life
An incredible debt, she is owed.

Thank you, once again, for allowing me to share my story.

Kindest regards

Alan

Hi Pam and Alan,
 
Thank you very much for this interview. I often read Alan’s testimonies but I never heard him. It’s really a pleasure to hear his voice. During one hour, I was part of his audience and I’m very thankful because Alan is my Roger Bannister : the first time I read his story, five years ago, it changed my life and I began my real journey to fluency.
 
Pam and Alan, I also thank you for your slow and very clear way of speaking. I’m french but I understood everything you said !
 
Laurent

Bonjour Laurent,

It was kind of you to take time to listen to the interview and provide such heartening feedback. I very much appreciate the generous sentiments that you expressed.

I’m delighted that the information you previously gleaned about my personal challenges with stuttering have had such a positive impact upon the manner in which you now approach your life.

On May 6, 1954, British athlete Roger Bannister became the first person to run the mile in less than four minutes. For so many years, it had been considered impossible – many athletes had tried and failed. The moment that Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four minute mile, the mindset of other athletes worldwide changed overnight. They now had evidence that it could be achieved. Within a relatively short period, other athletes were regularly fulfilling the same feat. Such is the power of belief.

As I mentioned in my interview with Pam, the PWS that I heard speaking so eloquently (in front of an audience on April 1, 2000) about his public speaking successes became my Roger Bannister. And, for the first time in my life, I believed that I could live a more expansive and meaningful existence. During the past 11 years, I have trodden so many exciting paths and undertaken roles that I previously believed lay outside my scope.

You also commented favourably about the fact that (although French is your first language) you were able to understand every word that Pam and I exchanged. From a personal point of view, I should explain that, during recent years, I have come to recognise the importance of clear articulation (and the use of appropriate pauses) in creating effective communication.

This has not always been the case. There were times in my life when I spoke rather hastily. Maybe this was due to the fact that (once I started speaking) I was reluctant to pause just in case I had difficulty starting again. 🙂

When I first began to pause and speak in a more deliberate manner, it felt strange. After all, I had spoken in a rushed, unceasing manner for so many years. The pauses seemed inordinately long – I was convinced that my listener(s) would consider it unusual (particularly those who had heard me speak in the past).

I was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO wrong. No-one has ever commented adversely upon (or reacted unfavourably to) my new way of talking. To the contrary, the responses have always been so positive. 🙂

Laurent, I wish you continued success with the new challenges that you are creating in your life. Have fun with your speech!

Kindest regards

Alan

Alan , that was a lovely interview , I have just finished listening to it in full, and it was very inspirational and heart warming to hear your full story and I just love your poems. Well done,

Janet Lennon

Hi Janet,

Thank you, so much, for your generous comments. I really appreciate you taking the time to listen to the podcast and submit feedback.

Learning about the lives of other persons who stutter can offer an interesting insight into how they deal (or have dealt) with their respective difficulties, as well as offering reciprocal inspiration. It can also alert us to possibilities of which we were previously unaware – in relation to therapies, techniques and opportunities that allow us to unearth our true potential. In effect, it can open our eyes to possibilities that we could never have imagined.

Here are the links to two of my poems:

“Changing the words around”

Illustrations and lyrics-

http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/isad7/papers/badmington7/badmington17.html

Lyrics only –

http://www.masteringstuttering.com/articles/changing-the-words-around-poem-by-alan-badmington/

“Everyone’s Different”

http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/isad7/papers/badmington7/badmington27.html

Thank you, once again.

Kindest regards

Alan

Thanks for those Alan. I love your poems, Is it just the 3 or do u have more 🙂

Janet

Hi Janet,

Thank you.

I’ll contact you privately concerning other poems that I’ve written.

Kindest regards

Alan

ok so Alan, thank you 🙂

Janet

[…] was influenced in different ways by John Harrison and Alan Badmington, who both were featured on my “men who stutter” […]

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