Pupil conquering his stammer is inspiration

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Musharaf Asghar Musharaf Asghar

Have you ever had, or known anyone who has, a stammer? I’ve come across several adults with strong stammers or speech impediments – and I’ve found myself trying to complete sentences for them.

It wasn’t until I got to know one Wiltshire man well – and asked him what he’d prefer when speaking to him. He told me he would like me to wait until he’d got the words out.

This happened several years ago but I was reminded of it recently when following the television series Educating Yorkshire on Channel 4.

The premise of the series is to show the life of a secondary school, warts and all, over a number of weeks using hidden cameras. Hidden doesn’t mean secret – everyone knows the cameras are there.

One story stood head and shoulders above the others – and it’s this story which has gone viral across social media this week.

It’s the story of Musharaf Asghar, the teenager known as Mushy, with a debilitating stammer desperate to pass his GCSE in English but terrified of his oral examination. His stammer had clearly affected his learning, and he’d previously avoided going to school and had been a victim of bullying. However, during the series he was trying to face up to this difficulty.

The story also involved a teacher, Mr Burton, of the Thornhill Community Academy in Dewsbury, doing everything he could to help.

Medically, according to the NHS, there’s no definitive evidence for what causes stammering but one suggestion is that it can be genetic and another is that it’s cognitive – there’s some evidence that people with stammers show different brain activity when speaking than those without.

In Mushy’s case, the teacher tried a diversion tactic prompted by the film The King’s Speech and gave Mushy headphones to listen to music while talking.

The results were astonishing as Mushy was soon able to deliver sentences without repetition.

He went on to pass his GCSE with a C and is now studying A-levels at college.

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