Below is the piece that was written by Oleksandr’s mother on her reflection to the previous year (2016), when her son joined the McGuire Programme. Tetiana called this article ‘Things I wish I knew about stuttering’ as she was sure it will help others who have doubts to get more clarity about the program, or to family members of those on the program.

In Tetiana’s own words: “It’s never enough “thank you” – I am very grateful to Emmet and Daniela, and other coaches for what you are doing. I admire your work, these are the things what really change people’s lives to the better. And it is not just words to me. I can imagine very well how much more difficult Oleksandr’s life would be without the program. Thank you!”

– Things I wish I knew about stuttering

It’s being a year since my son joined the McGuire Programme and 12 years since he (Oleksandr) started stuttering. Last year was a tremendous change for him, and so it was for me. Times when he couldn’t control his speech going to the past very quickly, I am happy this is all behind us. Bad things are forgotten very fast. On one hand, I want to forget them. On the other hand, there were so many insights which I want to keep. I put some notes down, as later I may not want to recall all that negative experience but conclusions only. I am sure there are more people who find these notes useful.

Things I wish I knew about stuttering 10 years ago:
  1. Stuttering will go.
  2. Nobody is guilty that some people stutter.
  3. Stress. Constant stress. I didn’t realise it. We both were like boiled frogs[1], sometimes getting to the state when you spend all your energy to ignore things you can’t change instead of moving forward. Better to find a way to take control of the situation that bothers and put efforts to change than being stuck in avoidance.
– Things I wish I knew about stuttering On developing new skills:
  • We are all much stronger than we think. My son is much stronger than I thought. I remember very well how I wanted to take him away from the middle of the first course a year ago because I saw him tired. Next day students had to make 100 contacts and I was sure he wouldn’t manage, it seemed to scary (“contact” is when you approach a stranger on the street asking for a time, direction, so on). But that was _my_ fear, not his. I am glad I didn’t share my doubts with him. Never tell anyone that it’s not going to work. Especially in the format “I know it’s not going to work because my friend didn’t manage it”. You show _your_ fears and has nothing to do with other people.
  • If you are learning something new – do not listen to advice from people who didn’t walk this road themselves. Even if they were close to those who did they may never know exactly what others feel and go through. 
  • Developing a new skill is easy and fast when:
  • what you learn really matters to you
  • you have a teacher you admire and your teacher knows how to support you
  • you have consistency in practising

– Things I wish I knew about stuttering concerning family:

  • Family[2] support is crucial. We, humans, are meant to live not alone and not in couples but in families[2]. And whenever you are planning a change you should know that family will pull you back. Think of a group of people standing in a circle and holding hands. Now imagine that one person starts jumping high, again and again. What will people standing next to him do? Several options: they can jump with him, they can move hands to allow that person to jump, they can release hands. But the point is – they will have to react. 
  • As a family member, if you want to keep the connection with the person who changes – you must change as well. Rework your habits and communication style. A new way of communication will be different and you may not always like it. But after some time you will find the way everyone is happy with. Is it difficult to change when you don’t really want it? No. It is very very difficult! I notice that some of my habits supported my son in the opposite – to stay stutterer. Not a nice discovery.
  • Motivation sucks. If you want to do something you just do it without motivation. That’s why all these “I do not have time”, “I don’t have money”, “I’ll do it after I change my job” etc is just noise. When I look at people at the course working hard on building their new skill I realise how strong people can be if they do something that is truly important to them. If you are not doing something already – you do not need it. Spend your energy on something that really matters to you.
  • Community support is as much important as your efforts. Nowadays you can find information on learning/ achieving everything. But why do many people give up even they do what they want? Now with the program, I can see that support is crucial. Even when you learn what you need/like there will be moments when you feel like not making a progress at all or tired. This is the time when many people would quit. When you have someone who believes in you, who can give advice and just tell you “It was a bad day, try again tomorrow” – this is enough to keep ongoing.

[1] If you put a frog in a hot water it will jump away to escape. But if you put a frog in cold water and start heating slowly, it will not notice the change in temperature and may get boiled. This picture is used to describe how people got adapted to slow changes around them, even these changes are up high to critical levels.

[2] By family here I mean a group of people you are influenced by and spend most of you time with. It’s not family in traditional understanding, you don’t have to live together. It may be your close friends, colleagues.

Thank you for writing such an insightful article entitled ‘Things I wish I knew about stuttering.’

Join us for our next intensive course in Berlin, Germany 27.-30.06.2018 Contact Emmet O’Connell via email: or phone +49 (0)176 83 4050 26

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