Want some help?

Group for Adults who Stammer (G.A.S) is here.

There is a friendly atmosphere where you can meet people with similar problems, build confidence in good company and there is no need for referral from your doctor, just turn up for free help and advice.

We meet on the last Tuesday of every month, 7:00pm - 8:30pm, in the top floor of Dewsbury Health Centre (enter via lower ground floor - car park level).

For more information contact:

Lynne Bagot
Speech and Language Therapist
Eddercliffe Health Centre

01924 351563
Email: lynne.bagot@locala.org.uk

Journey 1

Journey 1

As a boy growing up, my childhood experience was feelings of not being able to communicate properly with people. I was always quiet, I felt inferior to kids my own age and got bullied a lot at school. When I started a conversation at home I was cut off in the middle of what I was saying and gradually I began stopping and starting, so I kept quiet, keeping my thoughts to myself, having conversations in my head and keeping myself busy by listening to music. When I was spoken to I kept my answers short.

I finally admitted I had some sort of speech problem. Admitting this to myself was easy so telling others was simple. The next step was to see the GP, who I thought would look at me as if I had a mental illness. He wrote something in his notes on his pc and told me that he had made the referral and I should hear something in a short while. About a week later I received a letter from a woman called Lynne, so I went to see her and that's when I started my therapy and began meeting other people with similar speech problems. This helped me to answer the question "am I normal" and I quickly realised, yes I am. Now I have become more confident thanks to Lynne and people like her.

Journey 2

Journey 2

After being involved in a road traffic accident aged 33, I suffered a knock to the head, severe whiplash and developed a stammer.

As the weeks went on, the stammer proceeded to get worse. It got to the point where all my friends thought I was putting it on for a laugh- not very funny! After numerous visits to the hospital, I was referred to the speech and language therapy department at Dewsbury & District Hospital for treatment. After a few individual sessions with Lynne (my Therapist), she suggested that I come along to the monthly GAS group (held on the last Tuesday of the month).

After being in a road traffic accident with numerous physical and mental aches and pains, the last thing I wanted was to go to a 'get well, let's all hug' group! How wrong was I?! Since going to GAS, I have learnt all sorts of things about my acquired stammer and have been able to talk to like-minded people with the same problems and worries. My confidence has grown back to within normal levels for me. This has taken time, but over the months I have taken positive forward steps.

In a nutshell, going to GAS for the first time was like taking a car for its MOT. You dread it- the nearer it gets, the more anxious you become. Your tummy rumbles and you get sweaty palms, thinking 'oh no, what are they going to find this time? Can I afford it? But I need the car- I'll have to do it.' My first time at GAS was much the same, but the difference is that every time I go, Lynne and the others help keep me on the straight and stammer!

Don't take my word for it. Ring up, send an email, call in to see the department and find out when the next GAS meeting is on- you'll get a cuppa and a biscuit if nothing else! What harm can it do? The first step is always the hardest and you have already taken that first step by reading this...

Time to take the second step... 

Journey 3

Journey 3

Before speech therapy I tried to avoid speaking where I could. I switched words so when I did speak it didn’t always make sense and I felt a great deal of frustration.

At my first appointment I was extremely nervous, not knowing what to expect and not knowing what the therapist would be like (I have faced some hostility from various consultants and other medical professionals in the past).

During this first appointment I was put at ease and made to speak which felt embarrassing but I knew if I was to get anything from these sessions I had to at least try. Over the course of my therapy I was shown techniques to gain control over my speech and encouraged to try things which at first seemed crazy such as voluntary stammering. Although reluctant at first I ended up having fun with that one.

Now I feel more in control. My work colleagues and friends have told me I speak more and I feel I can say what I want when I want to, rather than keeping quiet. I have learned that what I have to say is just as important as what anyone else says and that people will wait for me to finish if need be. My confidence has improved and I have chaired meetings and spoken in public.

Speech therapy I believe was successful for me and I believe that’s down to the therapist who was friendly but would pick out when I was slipping into old habits, her ability to build a rapport and my willingness to try.

Journey 4

Journey 4

I am in my mid 40’s and I have had a stammer, since about the age of four, but the stammer definitely seemed to get a lot worse, during my first year at High School.

I have always been very anxious and ashamed of my stammer, which I would always try to hide through very careful word-switching and also by not speaking as much. I would also avoid certain situations.

The school teachers of 35 years ago, did not know how to react to my covert stammer and some saw it as a huge sign of weakness when the stammer was “forced” to appear, in the dreaded “reading-around-the-class”, during English lessons. This would totally show me up for ridicule, from the rest of the class, some of whom thought I was retarded.

I might have been a bit Dyslexic also, but never retarded. In fact, I have always been highly intelligent.

Part of my working life has been ruined by my stammer, which I think has prevented me from moving forward and fulfilling my potential.

Over two years ago, I had a long spell out of work, due to being made redundant and also due to breaking my arm, after slipping on some ice, straight after losing my job. My confidence was very low for two years and needed a huge boost, in order to help me finally get back into work and after going to see my Doctor, due to depression, he finally referred me to see a Speech Therapist, called Lynne Bagot, who works for Locala, in the Dewsbury area.

As well as seeing my Speech Therapist for one-to-one appointments, I was urged to attend monthly G.A.S. Group sessions (Group for Adults who Stammer), which is also run by my Speech Therapist. This is to help someone having speech therapy “to raise the bar”, by getting used to talking in front of five or six people, who also stammer, rather than only speaking in one-to-one appointments.

I also had a four month section of phone practice sessions, when a Speech Therapist Assistant would phone me twice a week and I would practice speaking on the phone by using different scenarios, such as ordering, enquiring and even practicing having phone interviews over the phone.

I have been having speech therapy treatment and also attending the G.A.S. Group sessions for nearly two years and my negative way of thinking has eventually changed by recording my therapy sessions on a Dictaphone, which I play back time and time again. After listening to my voice on the Dictaphone, I quickly realized that my voice and my stammer blocks, didn’t sound as bad as I negatively thought.

I have gained a huge boost in my confidence by listening to my voice on my Dictaphone and I also practice speaking on it, practically every day as well, but it’s also helped me to take-in the speech therapy sessions a lot better.

I am not yet the “finished article” and probably still “work in progress”, as far as being cured of my stammer is concerned and even when I eventually stop having speech therapy appointments, I will continue to attend the monthly G.A.S. Group meeting sessions, which will always stop me from getting complacent and returning to my “old ways” of thinking again.

The G.A.S. Group is “non-classroom” based and is just a very small group of friendly people, in informal surroundings, who are all in the “same boat” as each other and “YOU”, maybe?

So why not give it a try? You’ll get a cup of tea, coffee or soft drink!

You will be made very welcome and it’s “FREE”. So you have nothing to lose!

Tackling your stammer, will change your life!

Journey 5

Journey 5

My name is Emma and I'm 32 years old, I've been attending the GAS group for just over 2 years now and here's my story.

I've got my words stuck for as long as I can remember, always having to think one step ahead about what I was going to say and then switching my words if I thought I was going to get a block; I was sure people thought there was something wrong with me because sometimes second guessing where the conversation was going to go didn't always work out and what I said made little or no sense (to me or whoever was listening). To me at this point though, it was better to go through that than admit my stutter. At 24 I married my best friend and we'd been planning the wedding for almost 2 years, it was going to be the best day of my life. However, a few days before the wedding we had a rehearsal at the church, to my horror I got stuck saying my husband-to-be's middle name during the vows, the vicar simply stated that "we can't be having that on the day can we?", those words are still with me to this day. He advised that we take out the middle name and just have our forenames and surnames in the vows, I left feeling like I'd just been punched in the stomach. The day I had been looking forward to for most of my life was probably going to ruin my life and expose my stutter in front of our family and friends. The day came and after not sleeping because of worry and quite a lot of champagne whilst we were getting ready I got through the vows (I even got a little clap from my Dad after I'd completed the vows, he knew how nervous I was about them and comforted me in the car on the way to the church. I don't think I'd ever held his hand as tightly as I did in that car). We had a very enjoyable and memorable day but most of all the memory of the wedding rehearsal will always stay with me.

When my son was 3 years old we noticed that he wasn't saying his sounds correctly when forming words, after discussions with his nursery we agreed to have him assessed by a speech therapist. His initial appointment was on 28th January 2014 (you'll understand why the date sticks in my mind a little further down), the therapists first question was 'does anybody in the family have any speech issues?', with my heart thumping and palms sweating I had to finally admit to somebody other than my husband that yes I had a speech problem. I did this for my son as at that point I thought his problems, although completely different to mine, were my fault and I had to do whatever I could to help him. The therapist spent some time talking to me about my speech problem and told me about a group that ran the last Tuesday of every month and that there was one that night; I walked away from the meeting thinking there was no way I was going to a group meeting about stuttering, but then a little niggling thought in the back of my mind told me I should go for my son's sake, if I could get my speech under control then maybe it'd help him. The rest of the day was spent changing my mind, yes I was going, no I wasn't, I couldn't concentrate at work. I cried to my husband about it when I got home, I knew that if I didn't go that night there was no way I would be able to go the month after. I got in the car and somehow got to Dewsbury Health Centre, I sat in the car and then went inside and sat in the toilets, I went back to the car and thought that was it I was going home then something got me inside and up the 2 flights of stairs to the room. the speech therapist I had seen earlier that day greeted me and I started to feel more relaxed, I was introduced to other members of the group and they all seemed really nice, there was another newby there and I got talking to her, I soon realised that everybody's situation is completely different and I came away from that first meeting feeling like a bit of a fraud; I could hide my speech problem and there were people who were a lot worse off than me. A few days later I somehow had the courage to call the telephone number that the therapist had given me to register myself for individual sessions, the phone was my biggest fear and it took me almost an hour to make the call. I can still remember the meeting room I was sat in at work in my lunch break, the view I was looking at out of the window, practicing what I was going to say over and over in my head and then what words I could use if I got stuck, but making that call was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I attended another 3 group sessions before I started having my individual sessions and each time it got that little bit easier. I still got nervous (I still do a little even now but I think that's more because I'm just a natural worrier, as soon as I'm there and I hear those familiar voices I relax instantly). My individual sessions were spent talking about my block and the sounds it happens the most frequent with, we also talked a lot about my anxiety and I soon realised that the only person who had a problem with my speech was me. The therapist set me tasks to do which at the time seemed utterly ridiculous, she told me to stutter on purpose (voluntary stutter), at first just in front of my husband and children, then my parents, more distant family/friends and then finally when I was talking to somebody in a shop; although it was scary when I decided I was going to do this it quickly made me realise that nobody said anything or looked at me different (I don't even think some of them noticed). My confidence started to lift and I began to realise that my issue was my attitude towards my stutter and it had to change. I started doing phone practice with one of the other therapists and I must admit I did cancel it the first couple of times, but then I put my anxiety to the side and went for it, we practiced any calls I knew I was going to make e.g. my car insurance was due for renewal and every year for the past 12 years I'd just accepted the renewal quote because I couldn't pick up the phone to question it, this year was going to be different, my confidence had built enough so that I could call the insurance company and I managed to get nearly £30 a month knocked off the renewal, I can't tell you how great that felt (and not just about saving the money J). Everything the therapist said to me in my sessions was starting to make sense, my attitude was changing towards my stammer, if I got a block, I got a block, so what? Sometimes some words get stuck, I'll get the words out eventually if you've got a problem with it, it's your problem not mine (anymore). I've found over the past couple of years that nobody does have a problem with it, in fact quite the opposite, I had to call about a nursery place for my daughter and I advertised 'advised the other person that I had a stutter and to bear with me if I got stuck' and to my surprise the person at the other end of the phone said that she did too and we spent the next few minutes talking openly about our stutters, it was a great feeling. That was the next big milestone in my journey, being open to people about it, I'd spent most of my adult life trying to hide my stammer and now I wanted people to hear it, I wanted to talk about it (it seems strange writing this now, I didn't realise just quite how far I'd come, I never thought in a million years I'd ever be saying I wanted to talk about stammering).

I've worked for the same company since I was 18 years old and as I've mentioned previously my biggest obstacle was the phone, whenever I couldn't get out of using the phone at work I had to go into a meeting room so that nobody would hear me. Looking back now I know that people don't sit there listening in to my phone calls but at the time, I was sure everyone was listening and waiting for me to get stuck. Shortly before I started speech therapy we got a new telephone system at work which meant that the phone was through the computer (I couldn't go hide in a meeting room anymore), I quickly started looking for another job (I know this sounds extreme but I had such a fear of the phone that I knew I couldn't take calls at my desk). If it hadn't have been for my speech therapy I don't know where I would have ended up working. I'd decided that I wanted to speak to the girls at work about my speech therapy, I didn't want to make a big announcement but I wanted to be open with them and for them to feel able to ask me questions about it. It worked out quite nicely in the end as somebody had brought in some doughnuts to one of the GAS meetings and there were a few left over so I took them into work the following day, one of the girls asked where they had come from and I knew that was my chance to get it out in the open so I said they were from my speech therapy session the night before. Everyone in the room fell silent (there are only about 7 people in my part of the office) and almost in unison they all said 'I didn't know you had a stammer'. I was then able to explain to them about word switching and we talked about my speech therapy sessions, it was so nice to be able to speak to people openly about it. I now don't have any issues with stammering or hiding a block from my work colleagues but to be honest I've found that I don't get stuck very often, my anxiety over my speech is almost non-existent and in turn makes me relaxed when speaking, yes there is the odd occasion when I feel my pulse quicken because of the situation I'm in but I can handle that now, I know I can get through it. My work is going well and it has been noted in my last couple of appraisals that I'm a changed person with regards to my confidence, I've even started covering reception (yes that is taking calls on a reception desk through a computer where everyone walking past or visitors in the waiting area can hear me) how my life has changed.

To anybody who is thinking about asking for help with their speech, my advice would be to go for it, you've got nothing to lose but a lot to gain, my biggest regret is not doing this 15 years earlier, my life up to this point would have been so different.