Dmitriy’s dysfluency story

18 April 2019

A former patient at Sheffield Children’s dysfluency service has said that acceptance is the key to confidence with a stammer.

Photo of male doctor

Dr Dmitriy Starostin, a junior doctor and former patient at Sheffield Children’s, first came to the Sheffield Children’s dysfluency service when he was 15 years old after struggling with a stammer throughout his childhood.

Dmitriy worked with Kate Williams, Speech and Language Therapist and Clinical Lead in Disorders of Fluency at Sheffield Children’s for seven years to acknowledge the importance of good communication skills, increase his confidence in speaking, and learn to accept his stammer.

Dmitriy is now a doctor at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, a role he is now confident in thanks to the support of Kate. He uses his role to increase stammering awareness and to show that acceptance is the most important step to living with a stammer.

Dmitriy says: “I have been stammering for most of my life. In school once I was asked to read out a piece of text, a simple task for most people but could be so difficult for a person with a stammer. The moments like these made me feel embarrassed about my speech and caused me to avoid many social situations or any situations where I had to speak at all.

“As a child, I have seen various different speech therapists to help me with my stammer; however the results were very limited. Later in my childhood I moved to England and began my speech therapy in Sheffield. I was very focused to improve my speech but again I found this very difficult.

“It wasn’t until my late teens/early twenties that I finally got on well with speech therapy because it was that point when I truly began accepting my stammer. This would have not been possible without the help I’ve received from my speech and language therapist at Sheffield Children’s, who motivated me to believe and work hard on the acceptance of my stammer.

“The therapy then became much easier and I was finally able to experience the freedom in my speech. I’ve continued to develop a strong mental and positive attitude which helped me to embrace my stammer.”

Dmitriy was discharged from the service when he was 22 years old, the therapy helped him get to his goal of becoming a doctor. Dmitriy said: “Being a doctor was always a dream of mine, and the support I received at Sheffield Children’s has helped me tremendously with my life’s ambition, by teaching me how to live with my stammer. I am now a qualified doctor who does not shy away from how he speaks. I am working hard to improve my communication skills and not my fluency. I am also working on further increasing stammering awareness in the medical field and in the general population.’’

Sheffield Children’s provides the only speech and language therapy service for children, adolescents and adults in the Sheffield area who stammer.

Kate, Dmitriy’s therapist, said: “Here at Sheffield Children’s we provide a holistic approach to our care and this can be seen by our work with Dmitry. He started to acknowledge the importance of good communication skills and came to understand that he had these in abundance, despite sometimes stammering. With this realisation came an increase in confidence about what was possible, including studying medicine. He no longer allowed his stammer to control him in the way that it had.”

The therapy provided for people who stammer involves different approaches for different people; there is no one size fits all. The bespoke approach to therapy means each patient may focus on: increasing communication skills generally – verbal and non-verbal (eye contact, facial expression, gestures, listening skills), developing a positive attitude to communication and speech, direct speech work if required, and supporting the cognitive and emotional aspects of stammering.

To find out more about the service, visit the website: https://www.sheffieldchildrens.nhs.uk/services/speech-and-language-therapy/stammering/

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