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A stammer is a change in the flow of words due to words getting stuck. People might also talk about ‘stuttering’ and ‘dysfluency’ as well as ‘stammering; all of these words mean the same. Stammering may include repeating sounds or words, prolonging (stretching) sounds, and blocking sounds (no sound coming out at all). The effort put into getting words out can lead to physical tension which might be seen as movements in the face or body. Negative feelings about speaking (e.g. frustration and embarrassment) can develop over time. This can lead to the child giving up on speaking and withdrawing from social situations.

Stammering usually begins in childhood between the ages of 2 and 5 years, when the child is learning lots of new skills. It can vary and be unpredictable; it might come and go, change from one day to the next, or between situations. For some children stammering is a phase that eventually passes by. For others, it continues into adulthood. 

The way other people respond when a child stammers can have an impact how easy it is for the child to get their words out.  It is important to be patient and supportive, and acknowledge the child’s challenges without drawing negative attention to the stammer. Below you will find links to some leaflets with information about how to respond when a child stammers and support the child in speaking. There are also links to some websites that have additional information and advice. 

Stamma - British Stammering Association (opens in new tab)

Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children (opens in new tab)

Stuttering Foundation (opens in new tab)

Stuttering Foundation - help my child stuttering (opens in new tab)

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