Wales

The Barry pupil using magic to overcome his stammer

Morgan Hooper performing magic
Image caption Morgan Hooper said he uses magic as an ice breaker

Seventeen-year-old Morgan Hooper's stammer was so bad he avoided reading out in class, never answered the phone and asked friends to order for him.

But with the help of magic, the A-level student from Rhoose, Vale of Glamorgan, is overcoming his speech impediment.

By doing card tricks, Morgan's stammer is noticeably less pronounced.

He said it is part of a wider strategy to challenge himself, which has seen him interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Wales.

Morgan, who is studying maths, physics and ICT at Whitmore High in Barry is one of one million children in the UK who live with speech and language difficulties.

He said he remembers being a "fluid" speaker with no stammer as a young child before everything changed.

"All of a sudden I was not able to talk quite as well as my friends and the other kids in my class," he said. "From then on, it got progressively worse."

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Media captionThe magic of magic helps my stammer

About two years ago, Morgan enrolled on a speech programme which taught him techniques for breathing while talking.

"One of the ways which I love to start a conversation is doing some magic tricks for people," he explained.

"I think it is a really good ice breaker and is something which really helps me challenge myself to speak to a variety of people."

Morgan said he is lucky to have such good friends who are "really supportive" and constantly get him to challenge himself.

"If I say I don't want to speak to someone because I am afraid I will stammer, they will make me go and speak to that person to really bring down the fear, which is really helpful," he added.

Morgan used that same idea when he was invited on national radio on Stammer Awareness Day on 22 October.

"Going on radio, for me, was something I always wanted to do to really challenge myself and prove that I can speak confidently," he explained.

"For me, I love the quote 'if it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you'.

"These constant big challenges really help bring down the perception I have that people aren't accepting of people who have a stammer. It really improves my speech dramatically."

Image caption Morgan said he is inspired by the quote "if it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you"

But where does he go from here given the scale of his previous challenges?

"At some point next year, I am really hoping to find some way to speak in the Houses of Parliament," he said. "I think that would be the next step up and a good challenge to work towards."

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