Stammering and Christmas

At the Michael Palin Centre parents often tell us that Christmas can be a tricky time for their child who stammers – they may have been progressing well in therapy and then the stammering increases for no obvious reason over the Christmas period.

The first thing to say is that parents don’t cause stammering and we can only guess at the reasons for the changes that happen, but there are some common sense possibilities that can be addressed relatively easily, as follows:

Excitement: it can be fun to build the anticipation of Christmas, but this excitement can also result in a child becoming hyped up, speaking more quickly and potentially stammering more. Maybe a measured, calmer approach would be a good idea this Christmas.

Sleep deprivation: we often relax bedtime rules at holiday times and allow children to stay up later (despite the fact that they still wake up at the same time). Children may be already tired at the end of a term in school or nursery. Parents often say that children stammer more when they are tired, so insufficient sleep over several days might be having an impact.

Busy, full households: visiting friends and relatives may be fun but they also mean there are more talkers to compete with. This might be harder for the child who stammers, so some quiet, one-to-one time might be helpful. And while visitors are staying we could try to balance things by also getting those relatives to take turns to talk!

Different routines: some children like a predictable routine and this typically will change at Christmas, in terms of mealtimes, bedtimes, even where they are sleeping. Sometimes it helps to prepare a child ahead of the changes, so they know what to expect.

Illness: a child who is feeling unwell may also struggle more with talking, so don’t be surprised if you hear more stammering when your child is poorly.
These ideas may be helpful for your child, so do experiment. And one last thing – we know that a child’s stammering ebbs and flows, so even if you do notice more at Christmas, there is a good chance that things will settle down again when life returns to normal.

For some useful tips on helping your child please see

Elaine Kelman
Head of the Michael Palin Centre

Latest News from the ASC Youth Panel!

Youth Panel Meeting – 5th November 2016

Another Saturday and another successful meeting for Action for Stammering Children’s Youth Panel. Now over a year since our first meeting, seven of us from up and down the country met at a new location in Central London. LRW Tonic had kindly invited us to hold our meetings at their new offices in Old Street.

At 1pm on Saturday 5th November we began our sixth meeting. After a short warm up session, we jumped straight in to one of three conference rooms for a presentation by Zain Ghani, the eldest member of the Youth Panel. Zain discussed a variety of points with us, including roles within the panel, regional meetings, social media and Skype meetings. He then focused on our exciting, up-and-coming schools campaign, where he discussed outreach methods and the progress of our leaflets and posters – something we would come back to later on. This presentation was a great opportunity to discuss some of the future plans for the panel, and gave us all a good idea about where we were going.

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After a short lunch break, we then moved into a second meeting room to record a video presentation to be shown to the Board of Trustees at Action for Stammering Children. Here we presented our ideas and progress around the website and the campaign in schools, which had been the main focus of our meetings since April last year.

2016-11-05-09-33-21Once this was completed it was time for our creative discussion, led by Seyi Matthews from LRW Tonic. We discussed various aspects of our leaflet and website design during this session, including making changes to branding and the structure of our leaflets and posters, which by now are well on their way to completion. We wrote content for our posters and discussed how this would vary depending on our target audience. Once we were happy with where the posters were heading, we looked at our website, and made key decisions about layout and design, including moving to a different platform and adding FAQ pages. Some excellent progress was made during this session, and we’re now getting excitingly close to everything being ready to launch.

So finally, to finish our meeting, we looked at our next steps as a panel. Getting the website live and completing the posters and leaflets were of course top of the agenda, but we also discussed possible press releases, designing of business cards and a possible launch event, and what this would involve.

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By the end of the meeting, we definitely felt closer than ever to completing our branding and campaigns, and we all had a good idea of where we were going in the future. Another successful Saturday under our belts, we were now all looking ahead to January for the next meeting to continue progressing further, and get closer and closer to launching our work from the past year.

By Thomas Broom,
ASC Youth Panel Member