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My son stammers — and that's OK!  

Debra Fry panicked when her 3-year-old son started stammering. She felt judged for wanting to help. With her son now about to leave primary school, Debra has a message to other parents going through the same thing.

I've learned a lot during this rollercoaster that is parenting. When my son began to stammer at the age of three I was devastated. I thought: why him? Why us? Will he be bullied? Will he get a good job? 

Like many, my first instinct was to panic. This was followed by research, research and more research. Well-meaning people said he would grow out of it. I knew he wouldn't with now three generations of our family stammering down the male line. 

Like many, my first instinct was to panic... I thought: why him? Why us? Will he be bullied? Will he get a good job? 

At the time I just knew that I had to fix this. People referenced Gareth Gates 'overcoming' his stammer and various documentaries they'd seen. That didn't help. 

We got a referral to speech and language therapy fairly quickly through the NHS and were lucky to have stammer specialists in our area. If anything, the advice was for me more than my son and I felt extremely supported. I would give anything a go to help him. 

Therapy & feeling judged

I wanted to look for other people in the same situation, so I scoured the internet for websites and social media groups to join. Some were not specifically for parents and I felt that I didn't belong in a few of the ones I found; I felt judged for trying to help my child, as many of the parents came across as anti-therapy. So I started my own group instead (the UK Peer Support Group for Parents of Children who stammer Facebook group)

We have accessed speech and language therapy services with three different referrals over the last eight years and feel safe in the knowledge that we can self-refer whenever we feel the need. 

Seeking support doesn't mean that you don't accept your child's stammer. 

However, stammering is not such a big deal for us these days. Yes, our family members stammer. So what? My son doesn't want any intervention and that's OK. We are no longer seeking a cure or a quick fix as we know they don't exist. 

At present, we do not access any support for our son. Right now he doesn't want it and he doesn't need it — he's happy as he is. I don't regret any of the action I've taken and wouldn't hesitate to seek further support in the future — if he felt that he needed or wanted it. 

Seeking support doesn't mean that you don't accept your child's stammer. 

Parent Power

My message to other parents who find themselves in a similar situation is:

Trust your instincts. You are your child's biggest advocate and no one knows what's best for them more than you do. 

You are in control. If you don't feel supported by childcare and education settings, make a referral yourself. 

You do you. You want to try speech and language therapy? Great! Want to focus on confidence building? Great! You want to let your child take the lead? Great! 

Don't panic. Your child CAN have a successful career. It is NOT inevitable that they will suffer at the hands of bullies. It does NOT mean that they're not intelligent. 

Don't be afraid to change your mind. Is something you have tried not having the desired effect? Then change it! Take the lead from your child. 

Put on your positive pants. Use positive language around stammering. Be proud! A stammer doesn’t need to be fixed or hidden. 

Everyone is different. Some parents and children want to do presentations to the class to raise awareness about stammering; some want to advocate for other people who stammer; some just want to go about their daily lives quietly — it's not a big deal for them — and that's OK!

See our Help For Parents page for information, videos and links to help support the child who stammer. 

If you're a parent or guardian, tell us and others about your experiences. Find out how you can Submit Something For The Site. Read other stories from parents.

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Tayo & Bhupinder
A speaker on stage at STAMMAFest 2023

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