Listen to the experts
Claire is a member of British Stammering Association Scotland
'My name's Claire. I am a biomedical scientist and I stammer.
Well, sometimes I stammer quite a lot, but sometimes I don't.
But even when I'm not stammering, it's always on my mind. It's
not a superficial thing, and also it's not caused by
'Take two children. They both stammer. The teacher says,
"What's 3 x 4?". The first child stammers obviously, and says
12. The second child can't say 12 and so chooses to give 11 -
the wrong answer. What child is worse affected by
'I am more likely to stammer on words I can't avoid
saying such as names and numbers and when giving my address and post code, which means I do find the telephone quite
challenging. Or, if I'm put on the spot and there's a specific
answer I must give to a question, I'm going to really
struggle to say that.
'Sometimes the fear of stammering, and the fear of people's
reaction to it, is worse than stammering itself. So in the
past I've actually arrived late to groups because I've known
I'd have to introduce myself in front of other people.
'I am more able to attend groups now after attending support
groups and events arranged by the British Stammering
Association Scotland. But if I'm in a group with you and I
stammer - please don't finish off my sentences. This makes me
really angry. I want to get my own point across and I find it
condescending. Also what is helpful is to maintain eye
'If you feel uneasy when speaking to someone who stammers,
please don't show it. I'm highly sensitive towards people's
reaction. If I get a hint of a negative reaction I will be very
wary to stammer in front of that person again. I would probably
only say what I could say and not what I wanted to say. And
would be unlikely to continue participating in the group in the
'Don't advise people who stammer on how to speak. Comments
like "take your time" or "speak slowly" are not really helpful
and do sound patronising.
'And if you wanted to speak to me about my stammer - most
people who stammer don't mind speaking about it, but please do
it in a one-to-one situation, not in front of a group.
'Some people know that I stammer, but they don't really
understand what it means. They think I don't like going to the
bar to get drinks because I'm tight. They don't realise it's
because I fear I might stammer when asking for them.
'I know that people might feel a but uneasy when speaking to
someone who stammers, but it would make it a lot easier if
- did not finish off sentences
- if they knew to maintain eye contact, and
- if they did feel uneasy they tried not to show it, and
- they didn't try to advise the speaker by saying "
speak slowly" or "take your time".'