Being open about stammering

Michael Palin Centre ready for International Stammering Awareness Day
Michael Palin Centre ready for International Stammering Awareness Day


Do you know anyone (or anyone else) who stammers? Probably yes, if you are reading this, but Joe Public might well say no, they don’t, it isn’t that common, is it? But chances are you do know a number of people who stammer, but they manage to keep it hidden. Some people lead successful lives while hiding their stammer. They keep a low profile at school but do well in exams, get a job that may not involve too much talking, become known as good listeners in social situations. But for others, the cost of hiding your stammer is significant. You have a gift for language but cannot show this off as you say the minimum. You know the answers in class but keep your hand down. You don’t apply for that promotion because you know it involves an interview. You tie yourself (and your listener) up in knots trying to say something without using words that beginning with a letter you always get stuck on. We have a group of boys here on an intensive therapy course who are considering their options – to continue to hide their stammer or to risk being more open about it. And it feels very risky. But these are courageous young people who know that their horizons might just be wider…………. Ed Balls MP came to visit them this morning and told them of his experiences of being more open, of taking the stammer out of the box. Ed has risked doing this on national television, in the House of Commons – tough audiences. He really inspired the children, one of whom later said “I’ve always put it in a box, but will definitely take it out more”. Today is International Stuttering Awareness Day when we want the world to know and understand about stammering. We are supporting young people to be brave, be themselves and realise their potential with or without their stammer. You are the people who will see that happen. And the world will be a better place because of it.