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Call to support stammering event

Stammering affects approximately 1% of the population, that's over 400,000 people across the UK, and currently there is no cure.

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 September.

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 different techniques.

"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 stammering.

"We've also found that stammering affects 4 times as many males as females.

"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

'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very thankful and relieved patient'.

Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital of North Durham