Nathan, aged 13, has had a stammer since he was little. In August, he attended a stammering group for young people aged 10-17, run by Speech and Language Therapists from Medway Community Healthcare (MCH).  During the week, he had the opportunity to meet other young people who stammer and work on activities to increase his fluency and confidence with talking.

Nathan feels that his stammer has had a big impact on his life, particularly at school and when speaking publicly but he said: “This group has really helped me overcome those bad negative thoughts and think of positive ones.”

When talking about how other people react to his stammer, Nathan said: “I told most of my close friends that I have a stammer and they are fine with it, most of my friends are quite supportive of me.” But he went on to talk about how some people laugh at him saying “They wonder what’s wrong with me but I’m just the same as everybody else.”

Nathan said that he wants others to know “That it’s OK to stammer and you’re not different.  Everyone’s the same, everyone’s equal, not everyone’s going to laugh at you because you’ve got people standing behind you that have got a stammer and they know how it feels.”

He said: “The group has helped me a lot because the last time I came here it really improved my confidence and coming here again has improved it more. It’s made me believe in myself that I can talk more and be more myself. It’s been a good journey, I’ve met new people and it’s made me more confident. I’ve spoken more than I ever thought I would be able to.”

Nathan’s mother said that she feels Nathan’s knowledge of stammering and confidence in talking has definitely increased as a result of attending the group. She said: “This is a great forum for all the children who have dysfluency to meet each other in a safe, confident place, make friends and be able to speak openly about their stammer without any judgement.”

Another mother, whose son Cameron, aged 11, attended the group said: “This group is so important for the young people that attend. They are equipped with so much knowledge which not only empowers them but helps them to understand what’s happening to their body when they stammer. It’s lovely to see them connect with others who really understand what they go through.”

Emma Chambers, MCH Speech and Language Therapist, who ran the group said: “5% of all children aged 2-5 years old will stammer at some point as they develop their language and communication skills in early life. Approximately 1% of these children will go on to stammer into adulthood. Although there are some risk factors, unfortunately we can’t always tell who this will be so it’s important we offer support from an early age.”

As young people reach their teenage years, stammering can have a huge impact on their social interaction, confidence, self-esteem and identity. Often they don’t know anyone else who stammers, which increases their feelings of being ‘different’ and increases the feeling that they want to ‘control’ their stammer or ‘avoid’ situations that require speaking in front of others e.g. reading out loud in front of the class, meeting new people and giving presentations.

The stammering group aims to help young people meet others who stammer, increase their understanding of their own strengths and skills, support them to take small steps towards facing their fears around talking and teach them new skills to make their talking easier.

It’s amazing to see all the young people grow in confidence throughout the week, learn new skills and most importantly realise that they are not alone.”

MCH is thankful to Parkwood Youth Centre for providing a fun, safe and relaxed venue for the young people to meet in during the school holidays. This really helps them to relax and share their experiences of stammering with each other.

MCH’s Community Child Health Service supports young people who stammer up to the age of 19 years old. For further information about their services visit: