Stammering awareness

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19 / 5 / 2016 Midnight

Stammering can affect people at all stages of life, but with the right support those who stammer can fulfill their potential and not be held back by stigma or misconceptions.

During April, we will focus on stammering to help raise awareness and help managers to recruit and support staff who stammer. 

Key facts and figures

According to NHS Choices stammering involves the repetition of sounds or syllables, prolonging sounds or pausing or 'blocking' – when a word gets stuck or doesn't come out at all.  We know that around 5 per cent  of children exhibit developmental stuttering in their early years and 1 per cent go on to have a persistent stammer into adulthood, amounting to approximately 720,000 children, young people and adults across the UK.

In one UK study, 38 per cent of respondents said that their choice of occupation was affected a lot by their stammer, and for 46 per cent it was affected a bit.  A further study revealed that the most common examples people gave were not choosing the career they wanted, avoiding jobs that involved telephone work or verbal presentations, and feeling they would not be promoted because of their stammer.

Furthermore in one international survey, 67.6 per cent of those responding believed their capabilities had, at times, been misjudged by their supervisors.

For adults, stammering is also known to be a significant barrier to success in the workplace. Recent research funded by the Dominic Barker Trust  showed that misconceptions around stammering and casual, daily discrimination are still commonplace. Yet research also shows that people who stammer bring valuable qualities to the workplace like empathy, resilience and listening skills.

Information and resources

  • The British Stammering Association (BSA) provides a useful general outline to stammering in the workplace. Similarly, a comprehensive overview of the key legal implications associated with stammering. In addition specific advice to help managers.
  • Emma Birchall, associate director of informatics at East Lancashire NHS Trusts shares her experience of being a covert stammerer. 
  • Walter Scott from the Ministry of Defence explains how the Civil services is working towards changing attitudes to stammering. The following series of blogs also looks at the meaning and the experience of people who stutter.
  • Stammering activism and speech and language therapy also provides a useful inside view of managing stammering.
  • These case studies capture the experience of people who have benefited from receiving speech therapy.
  • Norbert Lieckfeldt, chief executive of The British Stammering Association highlights some of the stigma attached to stammering in this blog.

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