Don’t suffer in silence – Edel extols speech programme

September 9, 2013

A unique programme aimed at helping people suffering from a speech impediment has been extolled as a life-changing experience for a local woman who has had a stammer for most of her life.

Here Edel Reel tells her story about how the McGuire Programme helped her turn her life around after years of suffering in silence.

“My name is Edel Reel, I am now 21 years of age.  At the age of five I developed a stammer and like most kids who developed a stammer at that age, it didn’t become a major problem for me until several years later.  Primary school wasn’t so bad for me, I would have had problems with certain words but when I look back now, I substituted easy to say words for the more difficult words.  When I was in P5 I was sent to speech therapy in school one day a week.  It was very helpful and kept me covered for a couple of years, but it didn’t cure me.

“When I went into secondary school, this is when it really started to show.  The secondary school days were bad days for me.  The worst thing that sticks out in my mind til this day was when the teacher said the sentence I dreaded to hear “We will all stand up one by one and say our name”.  My problem was I couldn’t say my name. I had difficulty with it.  It just would not come out because my fear level was so high.  My friends always said it for me when they saw I was struggling.  That’s when I realised I had a problem with my speech.  I just didn’t know what it was or how to deal with it.

“I finished school and I always wanted to do an interior design course but my speech held me back in doing that, so I went to work instead.  My stammer got so bad that I was avoiding people and so afraid to answer the phone at home or in work, so I used tricks like telling them I couldn’t hear the phone ringing so I wouldn’t have to answer it.  Another trick was to show my customers the receipt of their purchase instead of trying to mumble out the words. It got to the stage where I couldn’t leave the house alone in case I got into a speaking situation.

“There are two types of stammering – overt and covert stammering.  I am a covert stammer.  I never had that facial and body struggle that most people associate with stammers.  At that time people didn’t know that I stammered simply because I never stammered in front of them.  I would think ahead before I spoke for any negative words I knew I couldn’t say and pick an easier word that would relate to the word that I avoided.  I was ashamed and disgusted with myself at what I had done but I kept my most sacred secret intact.

“One day it all changed for me when a man came into my work place and told me I had a stammer.  He knew because he has one.  I couldn’t believe that someone had an answer for me.  He told me there was a great programme called the McGuire program and that I should build up the courage to go.  So I decided to go on the May 2012 course in Cork and I never looked back.

“We were shown how to achieve one of the core principles of the Programme – costal breathing.  This technique is paramount to the success of the McGuire Programme and involves taking a sharp intake of breath before speaking – a method often used by opera singers.  Recovering stammerers will use this technique for the rest of their lives.

“The McGuire Programme is not a cure it’s just a better way to control it.  A lot of it is accepting that you have the problem. Stammering affects your life in every way and it can also influence you to do something about your stammer.  As part of my recovery I need to seek out challenging situations like this [public admission] to overkill my fear of stammering.

“I have met some amazing people on the programme and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the coaches, instructors and my fellow students on the programme for all the help and support they have given me.”

Course Information:

Joe O’Donnell is the Irish Regional Director of the McGuire Programme and can be contacted on (00353) 086 3429602 or by email:

More information can be found on