Naheem is a health and care consultant at a social enterprise called Kaleidoscope, where his work involves bringing people together to improve health and care. Prior to his current role, he was a neurodiverse neuroscientist and completed his Experimental Psychology PhD at University College London. His thesis was entitled: “Using transcranial direct current stimulation to improve speech processes in typical speakers and people who stammer”. If you have an afternoon free, or more likely a day, ask him about it. To summarise, it mostly involved applying approximately a 9V battery worth of electricity to a persons brain to see the effect it would have on speech.
Naheem also has a stammer, which funnily enough, he doesn’t stop talking about. Stammering is a neurological condition, with genetic and developmental influences, arising from a lack of synchrony between brain areas and networks involved in speech production. Having a stammer is sort of like the speech parts of his brain are connected to terrible WIFI or Three Mobile, so his speech often starts buffering right when it gets to the good bit. Hence, he completed his PhD on this topic…stammering, not Three Mobile. He is a trustee of Stamma and he has also co-led a support group for people who stammer since 2014.
Up until about six years ago, due to his stammer, he would avoid speaking wherever he could. Saying his name, ordering a coffee, phone calls, job interviews, you name it, he’s probably avoided it at some point out of fear of speaking and/or stammering.
Over the past six years, Naheem has turned his stammer into a slingshot. It held him back for a long time, but he’s been using it to propel himself forward. Naheem has organised and spoken at events, conferences and lectures around stammering, difference, diversity and voices. Naheem has also appeared on BBC Breakfast and BBC Lifeline talking about stammering. He has also previously performed at the Science Showoff, which you can watch below. Recently, he appeared on a podcast with Howard Read, Professor Sophie Scott and Rosie Jones talking about voices, comedy and experience.
Naheem is passionate about using his experiences of living with a speech disorder to inspire and support others, stammer or not, to celebrate their differences and find their voice, recognise its power and use it to create a better world for themselves and other people.
He likes to speak about topics including: stammering; the power and meaning of voices; neuroscience; disability; living with difference; mental health; and general topics around health and care. More generally, Naheem enjoys depressing cinema; building a 20% read Kindle library; boxing because hitting things is fun; anything to do with virtual reality and of course, comedy.