What is stammering?
Stammering is a very unusual problem. Estimates suggest that only one person in every 100 stammers. In fact, up to 5% may have experienced it at some stage in their lives, especially during childhood.
Apart from being unusual in terms of numbers, it is unlike any other disorder of communication because:
It varies; sometimes it is there and sometimes it isn't. Sometimes you can predict a stammering moment, while at other times it seems to come completely out of the blue. That's what makes it so frustrating
It's different for everyone. No two people who stammer do so in the same way. In fact the only thing that is common is that the ability to speak fluently varies from situation to situation and can sometimes feel totally unpredictable
During childhood it can fluctuate. In other words it can disappear and then return. For some young people there can be times when it seems to have gone altogether, only to come back, sometimes at the worst possible times (before exams, starting a new school and other difficult times). Just when it's important to talk well, the stammer comes back to haunt you
People expect you to grow out of it - throughout your childhood, people will have reassured you that it will disappear eventually
People always think they know what you should do about it - everyone has advice to offer, even though they may never have experienced the problem for themselves. "Slow down, take a deep breath, just relax, stay cool, say it again, take your time, don't worry etc." All well-meant, but usually impossible to do
Sometimes they are right - that is the worst thing. Often in situations where you feel accepted, relaxed and calm, the stammer is likely to be less of a problem. When there are no demands or pressures to speak well, the chances are that the stammering reduces
The harder you try not to do it the worse it gets
All these things tend to combine with one another, making stammering an extremely frustrating condition.What are the causes?