Beat fear of condition on awareness day

Speech therapist Kate Williams working with one of her clients
Speech therapist Kate Williams working with one of her clients
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Speech therapists in Sheffield are urging people affected by stammering to seek help as early as possible - to mark an awareness campaign today.

It is estimated up to 5,000 children and adults in the city have a stammer, and each year Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s speech and language department sees 180 new patients aged up to 16, as well as some adults.

Today is International Stammering Awareness Day, and Sheffield-based specialist speech and language therapist Isabel O’Leary, who works with colleague Kate Williams at the hospital department, said the condition ‘comes in many forms’.

“Some people repeat the starts of words or make sounds longer, while other people feel that the words get stuck,” she said.

“Other people hardly let the stammer show at all. What they may have in common is some fear and anxiety that when they speak they will stammer and people will laugh or think less of them.”

Isabel said each patient is put on an individually-tailored therapy programme, adding: “It is important to raise public awareness so that people can be understanding of stammering and learn to respond in a helpful way.”

Children can be referred by their school, parents or GP, while adults can refer themselves.