What is a stutter?

A stutter, or stammer as it’s also called, affects a person’s speech by making them unable to get out the words they want. Sometimes a person with a stutter might repeat a sound over and over, trying to get the word out. Other times no sound will come out at all.

This is really frustrating when you know what you want to say and your brain wants to say it, but your mouth just won’t form the word.

What does it feel like to stutter?

If you suffer from stuttering or stammering you might feel self-conscious and embarrassed about it. It can be really difficult communicating, especially with people you’ve just met who don’t know you’ve got a stutter, and it can put you off talking.

People who stutter are not any less intelligent than those who don’t and there have been famous people throughout history who have suffered from stutters and stammers. King George VI (the Queen’s father), Marilyn Monroe, Bruce Willis and Gareth Gates all experienced stammering at some point in their lives.

If you meet someone who stutters or stammers, the best thing you can do is to be patient; give them time to say what they want to say. Don’t try and rush them or finish off their sentences for them.

What causes stuttering?

No one’s sure exactly what causes stuttering but recent research shows it might be down to the way some people’s brains process speech. It’s not down to nerves or anxiety, despite what a lot of people think.

Some people who stutter or stammer have relatives who do too, so there could be a genetic link, but this isn’t the case for everyone.

Is a stutter forever?

Not necessarily. Around one in five children under five go through a phase of stuttering which they grow out of.

For the half a million people in the UK who do still stutter there are ways to cope with it and feel more in control of your speech.

How can I stop stuttering?

You might not ever be able to fully stop stuttering, but there are ways to feel more in control of your speech and more confident in yourself.

Speech therapy can help you to develop ways to speak more fluently and use speech techniques in everyday situations, as well as developing confidence and social skills.

Some good tips from the British Stammering Association to help you deal with your stutter are:

  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Learn breathing techniques
  • See a speech therapist
  • Relax and make eye contact when you speak to people
  • Tell people about your stutter

Who can help?

You can find lots more helpful advice on the British Stammering Association’s website. Take a look at their information for teenagers and young adults who stutter.

You can visit The Association for Research into Stammering in Childhood at for help, advice and information.

Take a look at the related articles section of this article for more useful information.

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