Get stammering help. Read our tips for getting support, building confidence and living your best life with a stammer.
So you stammer. What can and should you do about it?
Stammering can have a big impact on many areas of your life. But it doesn't have to. Here are things you can do to help yourself.
If your stammer has suddenly started and you're looking for help, see our Stammers Starting in Adulthood page.
On this page:
Meet others who stammer
Talk about it
Dealing with negative feelings
Therapy, courses & apps
Telling people you stammer
Develop public speaking skills
Stammering can bring positives too
MEET OTHERS WHO STAMMER
Meeting other people who stammer can be one of the best things you do. You can share experiences with others in the same boat and realise you're not alone. You can socialise, get support, practise things and build confidence speaking to others.
See how you can Find a Community or Stammering Group. These include support groups or social groups where you can go for a coffee or see a movie. There might also be a workplace network you can join. You might even want to start up your own community.
TALK ABOUT IT
Talking about something you might feel embarrassed about can be hard. Especially if no one around you stammers and doesn't understand what it's like. The negative experiences and the pressure to hide a stammer can affect mental health. So it's important to talk about how you feel. Try bringing it up with a close friend or family member and discuss how it's affecting you.
If you don't feel comfortable doing that, you can talk to us. Phone our free helpline on 0808 802 0002 or start a webchat. All our volunteers have experience of stammering or a close connection to it, so they know what it's like.
DEALING WITH NEGATIVE FEELINGS
For many, coming to terms with stammering, accepting it and finding ways to live well with it doesn't happen overnight. Unravelling years of built-up feelings based on bad experiences can be difficult.
Talking therapies can help, like cognitive behavioural therapy and acceptance & commitment therapy. With these, you can talk through negative feelings about your stammer. Then you can work on ways to reduce those feelings so that they have less of an impact on your life. Or replace them with something more positive or useful.
Talk to your GP about talking therapies. Many NHS speech & language therapists can provide this too. See the next section for details.
THERAPY, COURSES & APPS
Speech & language therapy
If speaking is a real struggle for you, you might be looking for help. Speech & language therapists can work with you on strategies to make talking easier. As mentioned above, they can help by working on your feelings about stammering too. To find out how to access therapy, see Options for Adults or Options for Children & Teenagers.
Another option is to go on a course and learn a technique to make speaking easier. These include The McGuire Programme, The Starfish Project and others. See Options for Adults or Options for Children & Teenagers for details.
For a more detailed look at what therapy & courses offer, see Different Stammering Therapy Options.
Apps & devices
There's also a range of apps for stammering. Some aim to increase fluency and reduce your stammer. You can download them and use them with earphones in speaking situations, like a coffee shop. Other apps address specific aspects of the stammering experience. There's also a couple of fluency devices that do a similar thing but they're expensive. See our Stammering Apps & Devices page to find out more.
TELLING PEOPLE YOU STAMMER
Mentioning your stammer or telling people that you stammer can be hard. Especially if you've spent your life trying not to stammer.
Some studies* have found that if you tell people you stammer, it can improve their perception of you. Some call this 'self-advertising'. You could say something in passing like "By the way, I stammer, so you might hear it sometimes when I speak". Or "I just want to let know that I sometimes stammer. It's not something you need to worry about. Just give me time". This shows that you are owning your stammer and are confident about telling people what you'd like them to do. Watch U.S. therapist Courtney Byrd talking about the benefits of telling people you stammer.
Mentioning it can also take some of the pressure off you. Knowing that the other person knows you stammer can make you feel more relaxed because you don't have to hide it. It could also put the other person at ease too. They might not understand what's happening when you stammer and feel uncomfortable. Or, seeing signs that you're uncomfortable might make them feel uncomfortable in turn. Mentioning it might help prevent this.
But only do it if it feels comfortable for you. If it does feel comfortable, be assertive but don't apologise if you stammer. It's not something you need to apologise for.
This might sound counter-intuitive, especially if you usually try hard not to stammer. It's common to do that because we're often worried about other peoples' reactions. But a lot of the time these worries are unfounded and people don't react at all.
The idea of voluntary stammering is to do a fake stammer on sounds you don't normally fear. For example, slipping in a little repetition when you feel in control of your speech. Then see what the response is. Does the other person react at all? If not, it might make you feel more confident when you stammer for real.
DEVELOP PUBLIC SPEAKING SKILLS
Public speaking is the stuff of nightmares for most people, even those who don't stammer. But lots of us have to do them for work or uni. Developing skills might help you generally, such as when you're out with a group of friends.
Public speaking clubs can help you practise and build confidence. With these, the other members can only give positive feedback. Search online for 'Toastmasters' or 'Speakers' Clubs'. These have groups across the UK. If you're in London there's even a Toastmasters group especially for people who stammer. City Lit in London also runs short courses for public speaking for people who stammer.
STAMMERING CAN BRING POSITIVES TOO
Living with a stammer can be a real challenge, not least because of the stigma that surrounds it. It's understandable, therefore, that some feel negatively towards their speech.
Think of the positive things that your experience has given you. Many people say stammering has made them empathetic, resilient, determined and resourceful. Or that it's given them great listening skills, inner strength and a wide vocabulary. Some say that when they stammer they are speaking spontaneously and naturally. Many celebrate their difference and the community of people who stammer. Some are starting to push back against the demand for fluency. See our Stammering Pride page to find out more.
Stammering doesn't have to stop you from going for the career you want. There are people who stammer working in all industries and at all levels. See our Influential People Who Stammer page and see for yourself.
Get encouragement from others. Our Your Voice section has lots of articles from people who have found success at work, built lasting friendships and loving relationships.