My name is Bevin Murphy and I’m 22 years old. I am currently in my final year of college. I’m in IADT (Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology) and I’m studying English Media and Cultural Studies. I also work part time in an arts centre in Blanchardstown.
There are a couple of things to note about my experience of being a person who stammers who is attending college and holding down a part time job. One thing that I found extremely helpful was being open about my stammer right from the start. I disclosed my stammer to my lecturers, my peers, my employers and my co-workers from the start of college and my job. This in turn made my experience of both very smooth and easy because everyone knew about it, therefore I did not have to hide it and be ashamed of it. I was also able to find out if anyone was going to have an issue with my speech, luckily no one did, but I knew that if someone did, I would be able to address it from the start.
Another thing to keep in mind about starting college and / or a part time job is that everyone is just as nervous as you are being in first year or being the new person, regardless of if they stammer or not.
It’s completely normal to feel nervous and unsure about what to expect. Sure, I was very nervous about starting college and I have a distinct memory of lying in bed the night of my orientation day, crying and thinking that I was not cut out for college at all. However, that feeling passed and now I’m a year away from graduating college!
So, if you’re like me, on the night of your orientation day or your first day of a new job and that little voice inside your head is telling you that you can’t do it, just know that you can and you will!
In terms of meeting new people and making friends, I took the same approach, I was upfront about my stammer from the beginning and I had to remind myself that we were all in the same boat. We were all in a new environment that we had to negotiate, we all had to make new friends. Anyone worth your friendship, will accept you for who you are! You will go through a couple of tough weeks but you will get there and you will meet really cool people and make some really great friends!
On a side note, when I started in IADT, I went to the disability office in the first couple of weeks and disclosed to them about my stammer.
I had no real reason to go there but I decided it would be better for me in the long run so that if I had any difficulties in college to do with my stammer, I could go to them for advice. I found this very comforting, I knew that if I was struggling, I had them to support me.
If you are applying through the CAO and you stammer you also have the option of applying through the DARE Scheme, which is The Disability Access Route to Education. This scheme is a third level alternative admissions scheme for school leavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second level education. I did not end up using this scheme as I did a PLC before I entered mainstream university. However, I know that it would have been useful to me and it would have been another support to me in the long run.
In terms of job interviews, I find it helps if you address your stammer from the get go. My way of doing this is that at the very end of the interview, usually the person who is doing the interview will ask you if you have any questions for them and that is when I would disclose my stammer and ask them if they think it would be an issue. In my experience, a lot of employers don’t see stammering as an issue and if they do, why would I want to work there?
On a final note, any good lecturer and employer will do as much as they can to help you integrate into college and your new job. So there is no real need to worry about that part of it.
You are very welcome to the Irish Stammering Association’s new (and first ever!) podcast Stammering; A life less ordinary!