Having a brother who stammers

12th December 2019

Pavlos Klapsis talks about what it feels like to have a sibling who stammers, something which he says isn't talked about much, and how it influenced his decision to become a speech & language therapist. 

We have to face it. Life is not easy but it’s beautiful. It is hard taking care of things and finding ways to survive and thrive, even being accepted in a party of people. I have seen it, now that I am older. 

My memories of childhood are sweet, even though my parents’ marriage ended in divorce. Although they showed me a lot of love, they conflicted a lot. It was a necessary bad situation. It was hard growing up this way and even harder seeing that my brother wasn’t able to handle the stress and the frustration. 


My brother stammers. I can see him trying to find his way, but it is so hard for him. It is hard standing up to the expectations of others and of society. He can’t make it on his own, he needs help. I remember as a child making friends and wanting to pass my time with them. Sometimes we didn’t accept my brother into our group. Maybe it was because I wanted a friend who was better at something, which would then make me better too, or else I felt I wouldn’t develop.

I guess I ended up worrying about my brother’s stammering; I wanted to help him and couldn’t build my own life without regarding him.

Children can be hard on other children who have problems – they don’t accept their difficulties and that can make it hard for the other child to compete. It’s brutal but it’s true and it’s awful. Now that I’ve grown up I feel guilty for that reason. But can you blame a child for being cruel? Don’t children deserve absolution? How should, or can, a child whose brother has difficulties, manage a situation like this? How should a person feel when he doesn’t have the problem but his closest relative does? Is the problem a mutual one after all? I wonder.

how it influenced my career

So, as we grew up, life put me on a crossroads and I had to make a decision. That decision was choosing to become a speech and language therapist. I believe that my conscience made it for me as a teenager. It was instinctual. I guess I ended up worrying about my brother’s stammering; I wanted to help him and couldn’t build my own life without regarding him. It was inevitable – ever since my parents divorced they never sought help for his stammering. It was up to me to help. Maybe it is not what I wanted to be but what I needed to be.

It can be hard having a sibling who stammers and watching them struggle. Sometimes I feel the need to look after my brother as well as myself. I don't think many people consider how brothers and sisters feel when their sibling stammers. It isn't talked about much. So I hope that if someone is experiencing the same thing, he or she can derive strength from my story and help their brother or sister.

When I was younger I couldn’t help him and I saw that social interaction could lead him to feel frustration, despair, jealousy and other negative emotions. It is not easy to handle or accept. I’m glad that I can be of use to him now and that I can understand him and what he goes through. It is precious for us both. My hopes are that with proper education and more awareness from a young age, that won’t be a problem in the long term. 

I can see now that he is happy – that he has someone who understands him and what he goes through; that his difficulty is mine too. That he can make it in life and be happy.

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