Stammering affects approximately 1% of the population, that's
over 400,000 people across the UK, and currently there is no
However, thanks to films such as the King's Speech awareness
about the condition is increasing and with the help of specialist
speech and language therapists great improvements can be made.
Stammering is a communication disorder in which the flow is
broken up by repetitions, prolongations or stoppages of sounds or
blocks. There may also be facial or body movements associated with
the effort to speak.
In September, the British Stammering Association will hold its
National Conference at Collingwood College, Durham. The theme for
the conference is "because we have a voice" taken from the much
acclaimed film, The King's Speech. The conference is open to adults
who stammer, friends and family and runs between 9 - 11
Speech and Language Therapists at County Durham and Darlington
NHS Foundation Trust are playing their part in raising awareness
ahead of the conference by setting up an information stand in
Durham market place on Saturday 6 August.
Barbara Harnett, Clinical Lead for Speech and Language Services
at the Trust said: "Stammering is a very complex communication
disorder and can have a huge impact on people's lives as it
seriously affects confidence and self esteem which can then impact
on relationships and employment. We work to support these people
and support them to develop their speech through a number of
"The earlier we can work with a patient the better the outcome
is and this also often helps the younger patients who can
unfortunately be the subject of bullying at school where there is
often an emphasis on verbal agility in class.
"We understand there may be four possible factors that may
contribute to the development of stammering. Genetics (about 60% of
those who stammer have a family member who also stammers); child
development, children with other speech and language delays may be
more likely to stammer; neurophysiology (recent research with brain
imaging techniques show that people who stammer process speech and
language differently) and family dynamics can play a part, high
expectations and fast paced lifestyle can contribute to
"We've also found that stammering affects 4 times as many males
"Although there is no cure for stammering, early intervention is
essential when it develops in children. Speech and Language therapy
has been shown to be very effective in helping people to manage
their stammer and to reduce the emotional impact that it can cause.
Specialist therapists offer a range of psychological approaches as
well as fluency techniques
"Stammering is greatly misunderstood and is often viewed as
something comical or an indication that the person is less
intelligent or very anxious. This is untrue and unfair. If you
speak to a person with a stammer it is important to try not to
appear embarrassed, give them time to finish speaking, try not to
finish words for them and just keep easy eye contact with them.
They will appreciate your patience and a good speaking experience
will really build their confidence.
"On Saturday 6 August we will be setting up an information stall
in Durham market place and will be able to offer advice or support
to anyone who is suffering from a stammer or knows someone who is.
We also hope to do some fundraising to support the national
conference which is coming to the county later in the year. There
will be a tombola and entertainment provided by a member of the
British Stammering Association."
If you stammer or know someone who stammers and would like more
information on the conference, visit www.stammering.org
or if you would like to donate, you can do so at www.justgiving.com/Barbara-Harnett
Published: 28 July 2011
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