National Stammering Awareness day 2017


To celebrate National Stammering Awareness day on Sunday 22nd October 2017, Speech and Language Therapists throughout Northern Ireland alongside the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy Clinical Excellence Network organised a choir made up of around 50 service users, families, friends, Speech and Language Therapists and Music Therapists who sang in Victoria Square, Belfast.

The concert was supported by the British Stammering Association, a leading charity which offers advice, help and excellent resources for clients and for the education and employment sector.

Service users ranged from 5 years of age upwards and under the direction of Karen Diamond, an Independent Music Therapist, we sang a medley of songs including Oasis, Abba and Elvis! Some of our clients and their friends also accompanied us on electric guitar and the beat box!

The aim was to increase public awareness about stammering, a communication disorder which affects 1 in 100 of the adult population. 5% of young children between the ages of 2-6 years may go through a period of stammering so that’s 1 in 20 children. Around 4 in 5 children will recover from it although it is difficult to predict when this will happen in a particular child.

The Speech and Language Therapists also wanted to highlight the impact it can have on individuals and their families' lives, including education, employment, social interactions, emotional wellbeing and relationships.
They also wanted to make the public aware of the specialist services available for people with a stammer and how to access these services throughout Northern Ireland. A range of literature and excellent resources provided by the British Stammering association was available on the day.

Singing has many therapeutic benefits and there are many famous singers who have a stammer such as Gareth Gates, Kylie Minogue, Elvis Presley, Chris Martin and Noel Gallagher.  Clients through volunteering to sing and participating enjoyed connecting with and meeting others with a stammer. They also wanted to make the public aware of how challenging it can be to have a stammer and what they can do to help.


How can a person get help?

The best prevention is early intervention so if you think your child is stammering its best to seek help from a Speech and Language Therapist. Treatment for stammering is often successful in pre-school children so it’s important to get referred to a speech and language therapist as soon as possible.

There are no miracle cures for stammering. However a Speech and Language Therapist can help not only children but also teenagers, young adults and older adults make significant progress towards fluency and in reducing the impact of the stammer on their lives.

You can self-refer to Speech and Language therapy for stammering wherever you live in Northern Ireland
If you live in the Belfast Trust, Children up to age 15 can be referred by ringing Call Management Centre on 02890565565.

If you live in the Belfast Trust, Adolescents, Young Adults and Older Adults can refer by ringing 02895048367 or 02895048132.

For other Trusts in Northern Ireland, contact your local Speech and Language Therapy Dept in your Trust for information on where is your closest service.

How can the Public help?

  • Listen to what the person is saying and not how they are saying it
  • Keep natural eye contact and wait patiently until the person is finished
  • Try not to finish their sentences or fill in words
  • Refrain from making remarks like ‘slow down’, ‘take a deep breath’, ‘relax’ as it’s not helpful.
  • Use a relatively relaxed and natural rate in your own conversational speech
  • Be extra patient on the telephone as it’s more difficult for the person. If you pick up the phone and hear nothing be sure it’s not a person who has a stammer trying to start the conversation before you hang up