Life with a Stammer

Life with a stammer

Having a stammer can have a significant impact on a person's mental and emotional well-being and self-worth. In 2019 we asked our members how stammering affected their lives: 

  • Nearly 90% had been teased or bullied because of their stammer.
  • Over half said their stammer affected their choice of career.
  • Nearly half said they’d stayed in a job longer because they worried they wouldn’t get another job elsewhere.
  • 15% reported feeling suicidal because of their stammer.

Research shows, time and again, that people who stammer develop negative feelings about themselves because of other people’s responses. Bullying and teasing at school, exclusion from activities, and the countless thoughtless responses received in daily encounters, whether it's shopping, travelling, socialising or at work. Having someone hang up the phone, walk away mid-conversation, giggle and mimic them. The assumption that you are nervous, or just slow on the uptake.

Stammering continues to be portrayed in the media as something needing to be ‘cured’, seeding the assumption by those who don’t stammer, that if you do, then you need to get ‘fixed’. Add to this a culture where portraying someone stammering is usually done for comic effect, and the damaging psychological impact of living with a stammer starts to become clear.  
  
Don’t assume that someone whose stammer appears ‘mild, if there at all’, doesn’t struggle with it. They may not, but you have no idea what their internal dialogue is or how it impacts them mentally and emotionally.

Imagine what it must be like if every time you open your mouth to say something, you fear being judged negatively, being seen as incompetent, weak, mentally slow or untrustworthy. The stress of getting through school, making friends and finding employment with a stammer can take its toll on mental health, consequently leading to higher levels of depression in those who stammer.

LIVING WITH A STAMMER

For those who stammer, everyday life can be an obstacle course. Situations that fluent speakers take for granted, but that can be impossible or almost impossible for those who stammer, include:

•    Introducing yourself.
•    Giving your name at a coffee shop or at a reception desk.
•    Speaking to a voice-activated menu on a telephone customer line.
•    Talking to someone on the telephone.
•    Using a smart speaker.
•    Using an intercom.

Stammering may be regarded as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. However, due to feelings of shame, many people who stammer are reluctant either to disclose their stammer or to name it as a disability.

We have information leaflets for parents, children, young people and adults which you can read and share with others. Download them here or order physical copies for free here.

    This year we asked our members how stammering affected their lives:-  

    • Nearly 90% had been teased or bullied because of their stammer
    • Over half said their stammer affected their choice of career
    • Nearly half said they’d stayed in a job longer because they worried they wouldn’t get another job elsewhere.
    • 15% reported feeling suicidal because of their stammer.

    Research shows, time and again that people who stammer develop negative feelings about themselves because of people’s responses.  Bullying and teasing at school, exclusion from activities, and the countless thoughtless responses received in daily encounters whether it's shopping, travelling, socialising or at work.  Having someone hang up on the phone, walk away mid conversation, giggle and mimic. The  assumption that you are nervous, or just slow on the uptake.

    Stammering continues to be portrayed in the media as something needing to be ‘cured’, seeding the assumption by those who don’t stammer, that if you do, then you need to get ‘fixed’. Add to this a culture where portraying someone stammering is usually done for comic effect, and the damaging psychological impact of living with a stammer starts to become clear.  
      
    Don’t assume that someone whose stammer appears ‘mild, if there at all’, doesn’t struggle with it.  They may not, but you have no idea what their internal dialogue is or how it impacts them mentally and emotionally.  

    Imagine what it must be like if every time you open your mouth to say something, you fear being judged negatively, being seen as incompetent, weak, mentally slow or untrustworthy. The stress of getting through school, making friends and finding employment with a stammer can take its toll on mental health, consequently leading to higher levels of depression in those who stammer.

    For those who stammer everyday life can be an obstacle course. Situations that fluent speakers take for granted but that can be impossible or almost impossible for those who stammer include:

    • Introducing yourself
    • Giving your name at a coffee shop or at a reception desk
    • Speaking to a voice activated menu on a telephone customer line
    • Talking to someone on the telephone
    • Using a smart speaker
    • Using an intercom

    Stammering may be regarded as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. However, due to feelings of shame, many people who stammer are reluctant either to disclose their stammer or to name it as a disability.

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