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Stammer: Just the facts

The word stammer and stutter mean the same thing.

Stammering affects all people; rich, poor, intelligent or those with learning difficulties.

There are many famous people who stammer. For example, King George VI (the Queen’s father), Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean actor), Bruce Willis (actor) and Ed Sheeran (singer).

A stammer can include repeating, stretching or blocks of sounds and words. Extra words may be put in and talking situation’s may be avoided.

Stammering varies a lot from person to person and from situation to situation.

Did you know;

  • About 5% of children and young people may stammer
  • About 1% adults stammer
  • Roughly 4 times more boys than girls stammer

What causes stammering?

Stammering is caused by a combination of factors. It is at root a neurological condition, research has shown that there are some wiring differences in the brain. Stammering can run in families.

What can affect the stammer?

A stammer can vary due to the situation you are in, pressures and demands at home or school may increase the stammer. Also pressures that you put on yourself.

It may occur when you start a conversation or when saying complex words. It may worsen when you are ill, tired, stressed or upset. It may increase when you are talking to a group or a new person. It may also increase when you are talking to your family as you let your guard down and talk more freely.

Is there a cure?

If you have had a stammer for more than 3 years it is likely to stay with you. There is no ‘magical’ cure but therapy can help to improve how easily you speak, your confidence and communication skills. It is a case of learning how to manage the stammer and reduce the impact it has on your life.

Myth Busting

  • Stammering is not related to intelligence.
  • People who stammer areĀ notĀ necessarily more nervous, it is just that the stammer may happen more in a stressful situation.
  • Stammering is not just a habit that you can easily break.
  • Stammering is not contagious, it can’t be ‘caught’ but it can run in families.
  • Stammering is not a mental disorder. Emotional factors may run alongside the stammer but they do not cause it. They are usually the result of negative responses from listeners.

What can you do to help?

The more you know about stammering and the way it affects you, the better you will be able to manage it.

Top Tips

  • Go with the flow…the harder you try to stop the stammer the worse it gets
  • Be to people about your stammer
  • Praise yourself …when you have a go at something you would normally avoid
  • Notice times when you stammer less…rather than concentrating on the worse times
  • Use support…from friends and family
  • Give yourself time and space to feel comfortable in situations where you are meeting new people
  • Make connections with other people about your hobbies and interests. This will help you to feel more relaxed and take the emphasis away from your stammer
  • Use pauses to give yourself time.

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your Public Health Nurse (School Nurse).

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Find out what services are available to you in your area. Remember your school nurse is always there to give you confidential help and support.

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