Can stammering be cured?

Once someone has stammered for longer than three years they will always maintain some level of dysfluency in their speech and so have to keep concentrating on learnt techniques to improve smooth output. However, negative attitudes and avoidance form the biggest part of the problem and these can be drastically improved, so that people's lives can alter beyond recognition.

Will I improve?

If you commit to the whole episode of therapy care, individual and Group for Adults who Stammer treatment, maintain practice and have the courage to extend new speech and attitude techniques into real life situations then you will definitely make progress.

How long will it take?

Each individual treatment episode is 10 sessions, which can be weekly or fortnightly. During this time you also need to attend the monthly evening Group for Adults who Stammer sessions. At the end of this time you and the therapist will decide whether further individual treatment is necessary immediately or just maintain group sessions for review of your progress. If you've had the problem all your life you need to give yourself at least six months in order to get maximum benefit.

Do I have to pay for treatment?

No, both individual and group treatment is free. Even the tea, coffee and biscuits are free!

Am I too old?

Anyone over the age of 16 who is working or over 18 if a student is eligible for therapy within the adult department. It is never too late to make a change to your speech and attitude to talking, which can radically alter your life.

What actually happens in treatment?

The therapist will assess your speech pattern and attitudes and avoidances and design a package of treatment suitable for your individual needs. Speech work on a variety of techniques is aimed at improving fluency and work might also be done on relaxation, breathing, reducing avoidance and transfer of new skills into real life situations.

Do you do elocution?

No, speech and language therapy is not elocution, which only works on changing people's accents .  

What are the benefits?

The more you put into your treatment sessions the more you will get out of them. If you follow the therapist's advice, work hard and stick at it you can have significant positive life changes. By reducing your anxiety and expanding your speech situations your real self will come to the fore and you will gain increased satisfaction. You will also make new friends who know what it's like to live with this speech pattern.

Is there a waiting list?

Yes, but as we have a specialist service for dysfluent clients you should have to wait no longer than a month for your first appointment.

How can I get referred?

You can refer yourself by writing to, or calling the speech and language therapy department at Dewsbury & District Hospital. Alternatively, you can print off the referral form, fill it in and send it to us. Some people come via their GP or other doctor but a medical referral is not necessary.

How many people stammer?

In the UK roughly half a million people stammer. About 5% of all children go through a stammering phase as they learn to speak but most of these grow out of it. Those who persist into adulthood usually have some family history of speech problems or some other kind of speech or language difficulty themselves.

I only really stammer when I'm very nervous. Have I really got a problem you can help with?

Yes, even if you don't stammer in front of the therapist we know that there is still a level of difficulty which can feel very embarrassing and cause you to withdraw from some social situations. We are still able to help this level of problem.

Would hypnosis help me?

The form of hypnosis which induces deep relaxation and helps you to alter your attitudes and thus your behaviours could be of some help. However, although we do not provide this in our department we do use other treatment methods which can be as effective in relaxing you and might be more effective in altering and maintaining more effective positive communication attitudes.

Would complimentary therapy help me and do you do it?

No we do not do complimentary therapy so we are not in a position to be able to comment as to whether it would be helpful or not.

I only stammer on the phone. Can you help me?

Yes, whether your stammer is mild, moderate or severe we will provide therapy suitable for your needs including practice talking in real life situations such as on the phone.



Talking with someone who stammers

Listen to what is said, not how it is said - Simplistic advice (e.g. "breathe properly", "don't worry") although well-meant, is usually not helpful so please avoid this.

Be patient and don't hurry the person talking - Try not to feel embarrassed.

Try to maintain natural eye contact - Stammerers have difficulty when talking, don't assume they are stupid or nervous.

Carry on with your conversation as normal, don't be put off by the stammering - Many stammerers are anxious using the telephone. Please do not hang up if the call is taking longer than usual or if the caller is silent for a while.

Talking openly about the stammering can often help - Try to maintain natural eye contact.



Covert Stammering

Covert or interiorised stammering can present as very mild dysfluency or the person might sound totally fluent due to avoidance of problem sounds or situations.

Usually the overt stammering features e.g. repetitions, prolongations and blocks of speech sounds  go "underground' at an early age. It is more common in bright articulate people with low frequency of S.L.D.'s (stutter-like dysfluencies) and a milder repetitive pattern or an unusual laryngeal block that might not feel like a stammer to the young child.

The amount of avoidance and mental juggling, rephrasing of sentences etc. creates massive amounts of anxiety from fear of being "found out". It engenders a huge amount of shame and makes them more prone to depression than more overt forms of dysfluency.

90% of a stammer is made up of the covert features of negative attitude towards self as a communicator, anxiety and avoidance.

Useful links

The British Stammering Association - They provide information and support for people who stammer.