Supporting Stammering Difficulties

Posted 21st June 2018

The following information is supplied by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

What is stammering?

Individuals with stammering (or stuttering) will struggle when attempting to communicate with others. For some people these difficulties may be minor and temporary whilst for others their needs will be complex and long term. Stammering (or stuttering) may affect speech in the following ways:

  • Repetitions of syllables, sounds, words or phrases
  • Silent pauses, called ‘blocks’
  • Physical struggles to speak
  • Unusual breathing sounds
  • Lengthening speech sounds
  • Avoidance of some words and situations

There are several support methods to consider when assisting a person with stammering difficulties however.

How to help

When supporting a person with stammering difficulties consider the following simple support methods:

  • look and listen carefully: concentrate on what the person is saying rather than how they are saying it
  • slow down your own rate of talking and ensure that you use a level of language that the person understands 
  • remain calm when you are speaking 
  • try to have a regular routine at home and school, and discuss future events so that the individual is prepared for them 
  • give the individual regular periods of uninterrupted time with you so that they don’t feel that they are always left out in conversation 
  • avoid giving the impression that dysfluency is wrong and shameful 
  • listen with interest, and encourage a relaxed atmosphere whenever possible 
  • ask a registered speech and language therapist for advice

What not to do

There are also several factors to recognise and avoid when supporting the individual: 

  • Don’t draw attention to the individual’s stammer
  • Avoid finishing of sentences for them 
  • Don’t interrupt or speak for them 
  • Don’t insist on making them speak when they do not want to 
  • Never hurry them along or tell them to start all over again 
  • Don’t try to bribe them to speak differently, or punish incorrect speech 
  • Never lose eye contact - this can be a sign of boredom or impatience 

Support Organisations