Helping young people find their voice – Stammering Awareness Day 2016

Flockton House
22 October 2016

What do Ed Sheeran, King Edward VI, Rowan Atkinson, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, and Ed Balls all have in common with around one per cent of Sheffielders?

They have all stuttered or stammered (they are the same thing) in one way or another.

Saturday 22 October is International Stammering Awareness Day and Sheffield Speech and Language Therapists are aiming to play their part in increasing understanding and acceptance of stammering amongst the general public.

The impact of having a stammer

Some people do not find their lives particularly affected by their speech. Others, like King Edward VI as played by actor Colin Firth in the film “The King’s Speech” stammer so much that their life is dominated by stammering.

Some people may not have realised they have a stammer but are aware that, “I get tangled up talking” or “my words get stuck and just won’t come out”, as was the case for Ed Balls.

Stammering takes various forms for people; repeating the starts of words, making speech sounds longer than they would usually be, or feeling that the words get stuck and have to be forced out.

What these people may have in common is some fear and anxiety that when they speak they will stammer. Over the years this can lead to some holding back from saying what they want to say, so that in a group of friends or a meeting they become known as being quiet and not having much to say. However, this may mask the fact that the person is churning inside with frustration or anxiety. In school a child may be really keen to tell a teacher the answer, tell a joke, or just join in a conversation but the fear that others will laugh or think less of them if they stammer makes them stay silent or only answer in short sentences.

Sheffield’s specialist stammering service

Sheffield is fortunate in having a specialist service for people of all ages who stammer, hosted by Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and based in the Speech and Language Therapy Department at Flockton House, Nether Edge.

The sort of help and support offered will vary according to the individual and/or family. For some people therapy may involve coming to a series of individual appointments with a Speech and Language Therapist. For others, the chance to practise talking with other people who stammer on a short course will prove useful.

Specialist Speech and Language Therapist Kate Williams said, “Therapy does not aim to ‘cure’ stammering, but to take the physical struggle and fear out of talking so that it is possible to speak freely, using the words that the person wants to use when they want to use them.

“It’s a privilege to help young people who find talking difficult to find their voice. Offering support and therapy at an early stage can help prevent anxieties and increase confidence so the person feels able to communicate in a positive way going forward. This can benefit their friendships, their family life, their learning and eventually their employment.”

Find out more about our Speech and Language Therapy Service.

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Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
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