Support your Stammer

Stammering is a speech-related problem where an individual repeats a part of a word or a whole word. 
It is possible to make stammer less noticeable by following simple steps by the individual and also by others. Stammering is more common in children than adults.

What is stammering

Top Tips to the individual who stammer

Take your time. There is no need to rush

Speak slowly so your words come out clearer.

Say exactly what you want to say. Don’t let anyone speak for you if you are not comfortable with that.

Be kind and patient with yourself.

Pause for a moment before speaking.

Try not to expect the worst, it does go well sometimes too.

Give yourself positive praise!

Don’t force the words to come out.

Get lots of rest and sleep. When you are tired, it is always harder to get your words out.

Top tips for others around a person with a stammer

Don’t tell them to slow down. This can be frustrating.

If you have a young child who stammers but they aren’t aware of it, don’t bring it to their attention.

Give your full attention. Not listening to someone can be very distracting and off-putting.

Give lots of positive praise, without focusing on their talking.

Reduce the number of questions you ask. Only ask questions if really necessary.

Model good, short sentences especially for a young child. Talking in longer sentences can be harder.

Listen to the content, not how it is being said.

Speech motor skills

Research suggests that, as a group, people who stammer tend to be slightly slower at making the movements involved in speaking, for example getting voice started in the larynx or moving from one speech sound to the next.

The implication of this is that speaking rapidly potentially puts a lot of pressure on a speech motor system that is not able to manage rapid speech easily. This can destabilise fluency. Taking time pressure off, for example by speaking a little more slowly, is often helpful.

Environmental or situational factors

When you are in a relaxed situation you tend to be more fluent. This is something I often hear from parents of young children who stammer. Not being under pressure usually produces the most fluent speech.

Conversely, people may stammer more in situations where there is more time pressure, when speaking to groups of people, or when there is an element of pressure in terms of making a good impression or performance.

Personality or temperament and emotions

Stammering is not caused by anxiety. Young children who stammer are not more anxious than those who do not stammer; however, anxiety can develop when young people have experience of people reacting negatively to them stammering.

Some, but not all adults who stammer experience high levels of anxiety in situations where they feel that they will be judged by how fluently they speak. Where this is the case it can be an important aspect to explore in therapy.

Language skills

Language skills
If your child/young person has difficulties with language e.g. organising their ideas into spoken language then this can disrupt the natural fluency of speech. Using more pauses can be helpful as it can provide more planning time.

So now that we know what some of the causes are, what can you do to help your loved one who is stammering?
These are going to be nice, easy and simple tips to implement into daily life.

These are just some tips that you may find useful. Stammering is affected by different factors. Don’t worry if it does not all make sense now. Take your time looking into further information.

Here are some good links for further information :

Iman Omar, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist.

Speech and Language Therapist
MSc, HCPC, RCSLT