Stammering – a useful employer resource

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Those of you who are members of The AGCAS Disability Development Network (DDN) discussion list may have already seen this Understanding Stammering (Nov 2017) Guide for Employers created by The Employers Stammering Network (ESN) (a British Stammering Association (BSA) initiative).

This is a really useful and comprehensive resource, so we thought we would share on the blog for those of you who aren’t on the mailing list (though we’d also encourage any AGCAS members with an interest in disability to join the AGCAS mailing list by emailing lists@agcas.org.uk).

To give you a taster, the guide includes the following information, but also has lots of insight from people who stammer, as well as practical information for employers and careers staff:

Facts and figures

  • About 70 million or 1% of the world’s adult population stammers.
  • This 1% is constant across all countries and cultures and in all social groups.
  • Communication impairments affect over 4.5 million people in the UK
  • About 500,000 of these are adults who stammer, about 380,000 of working age
  • About 60% of adults who stammer have another family member who stammers.
  • Stammering usually begins in childhood, at 2-3 years, affecting up to 5% of young children; when it continues over a period of years it is likely to persist in adulthood
  • Some adults acquire a stammer as a result of e.g. strokes, drug treatments or severe head injury. This is far less common than developmental stammering
  • About 4 times more men stammer than women
  • Stammering is the same as stuttering. Stammering is more often used in the UK, Ireland and India. In North America and Australia stuttering is the word used.

Putting the record straight on stammering

  • Research tells us people who stammer have different brain anatomy and function
  • This affects speech fluency but not intelligence, speed of thought, or ability
  • People who stammer are intrinsically no more or less anxious than anyone else
  • Stammering is not an illness and there is no magic “cure” although many young children who stammer do regain fluency
  • When whispering, speaking in unison or singing, people who stammer are generally fluent. This does not mean you should ask someone who stammers to whisper or sing what they want to say!
  • In adulthood, therapy can improve fluency, confidence and communication
  • Generally it is helpful for people to be more open about their stammer.
  • This may lead to their stammer being more rather than less apparent, because they are now saying what they want to say and not holding back.

BSA will also be holding their 2018 conference in Cardiff from 31 August – 2 September 2018. Further information can be found here.

Mark Allen, AGCAS Disability Task Group, Imperial College London

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