OPINION: Even in cyberspace, I never once tried to hide my disability... Why should I?

Oscar winner Stutterer reminds Steve Daunt that confidence, just like communication, comes in many forms

If you have a spare 13 minutes, it would be really worth your while to have a look at Stutterer, written and directed by Benjamin Cleary.

It’s a very simple plot: boy meets girl online. They establish a strong intellectual bond over the weeks. Distance is not an issue. The communication is via Facebook chat. Their innermost thoughts are all written. They never actually speak. However, the time comes when Girl is in Boy’s area. She proposes a coffee.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, at the very start of the film, we see Greenwood (the boy) on the phone to his internet provider. Yes, he was hanging on for hours but when he was connected, nothing came out of his mouth.

He has a heartbreaking and severe stutter.

It had me hooked.

Throughout the film, Greenwood has an inner dialogue with himself. His voice is no longer impaired. It is fluid and intelligent, just like his written communication. Again, this got me thinking. It never struck me before but my ‘inner voice’ is perfect, no impairment.

Greenwood does eventually meets girl. I won’t tell you what happens.

Would I place myself in such a situation? The physical manifestation of my disability means that once you see me you know what you are getting. My Cerebral Palsy means that I wobble when I walk and my speech takes some time to tune into. That is just the way it is. Thankfully I have learnt to put people at ease. That takes confidence. Circumstances - a loving family, a brass neck and the fact that I have a fun-loving outlook to life have given me this.

I admit that I dabble in online chat. By that I mean I type my thoughts to whoever I am chatting too. I make it a point of saying who I am, or should that be, what I have. Again, that takes confidence. The strange thing is I never once tried to hide my disabled self. Why should I? Even in the anonymous world that is cyberspace, I still had the confidence to be myself.

Stutterer reminds me that others are not so lucky. Despite the love of his father, who is an unsung hero of the film, I could recognise that Greenwood lacks some confidence in interacting with society. If the film sparks a conversation on this, and how we can change this, that would be even better than the Oscar. It reminds us that communication comes in many forms. That is its joy.

Give yourself a 13-minute break and watch it.

It’s not often we get an Irish Oscar movie – yet alone one with such a poignant message at its heart.