Some of you might remember our 2016 article ‘Speech therapy success in prison’ about Mark, who was having a new form of ‘teletherapy’ via video link. Having recently been released, Mark gives us an update on how he’s benefitted from it.
'My name is Mark. I had speech therapy while I was in prison and wrote my story about living with my stammer (click on the link above to read it). I can't believe how much having therapy in prison has changed my life. Before speech therapy I always hid away from occasions where I had to speak and spent most of my time on my own. This stopped me from getting the help I needed to leave prison, which people need to stop reoffending.
In the past other people did my speaking for me but since I've been out of prison I do it for myself. I'm that confident I'm always making phone calls to strangers to sort out a flat and help to keep me out of prison. I can even go to the shops, have a full conversation with the staff and not care if I stammer, which I never would have done without having therapy.
I thought having therapy would have been impossible to do without falling back into my old ways, but I'm really glad I had it in prison as I had lots of time to practice. You spend a lot of your time locked in your cell, which was one of the keys to my therapy success.
I love my own voice now, although other people get sick of it as I don't shut up!
Since I've been out I still notice people mimicking my stammer. Before, I used to hide away but now I'm confident to pull them up and tell them how it affects people like me who stammer, which I'm really happy that therapy taught me to do. I don’t let it bother me as they don't realise what they are doing.
I hope teletherapy gets the funding to be accessible in prison as I found it easier to speak to Stephanie, my therapist, over the video link. It felt less intimidating than I think it would have been face to face, at least at first. If people reading this want proof it works, just look at me and how much it has changed my life.
I love my own voice now, which I hated before, although other people get sick of it as I don't shut up! I would like to thank Stephanie and the prison healthcare staff for changing my life for the better.
I hope this helps, as I would love to hear that other prisoners will get the chance I had to have a better life coping with their stammer. I would love to get the word out as far as I can, because if it helps one person I would be over the moon. That's the reason I have shared my experience of therapy, and I don't mind sharing it with anyone - the more people that read it the better, I hope. I just want other people to feel the joy I feel when I can openly speak and don't care if I stammer.'
Mark’s therapist, Stephanie Burgess from Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, wrote about her work with Mark in our article ‘Speech therapy in prison: the therapist’s view’. As part of a wider trial which also included adults who weren't in prison, teletherapy was such a success that it has since been made available to all adults in the UK, in prison or not. To find out more, and to see how you can access the therapy via video link, go to: https://www.stammering.org/help-information/topics/therapy-treatment/adu...