Stammering is a form of communication which differs to normal speech. This can either be in the form of blocks (no sound), rep-rep-repetition of words or syllables and/or elongation of sssssssounds. Around 1% of the world’s population have a stammer. In the UK, more than 150,000 children and young people stammer. Most people in the general public know of stammering but may not necessarily know how to speak to someone who stammers or understand what it is. Therefore, to celebrate ISAD, see below some interesting facts, top tips and further information on stammering:
- The ratio of boys to girls who stammer can be 4 or 5:1
- Celebrities like Ed Sheeran, Stormzy, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, and Samuel L. Jackson have a history of stammering
- A stammer normally appears in children aged around 3 or 4 years old
- No one knows the reason why people stammer but scientists have suggested many theories on contributing factors like development of speech, family environment, even a low blood supply to certain parts of the brain!
- A film called the Kings Speech (with main actor Colin Firth) focused on King George VI and how an Australian Speech and Language Therapist helped him to manage his stammer prior to giving a wartime radio broadcast upon Britain’s declaration of war on Germany in 1939.
Top Tips on speaking to someone who stammers:
- Avoid finishing their sentences when they are struggling to get their words out
- Give them sufficient time to speak
- Maintain eye contact and show interest in what they are saying
- Avoid comments like “Speak Slowly” and “Take a deep breath” as this can be quite patronising
- Be patient and avoid rushing someone who stammers to speak
Links to further information:
- NHS Information on Stammering
- STAMMA (formally known as the British Stammering Association)
- Action for Stammering Children (ASC)