How can stammering impact children and young people?

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Growing up with a stammer can impact children's social development, emotional well-being, and aspirations for their future. We have listed some of the ways that stammering can adversely impact children and young people based on research and the views of young people themselves:

  • Communication - having a stammer can make it difficult for children to express their thoughts and ideas clearly, which can be frustrating when they have so much to say.
  • Bullying - it is estimated that 40% - 60% of children experience teasing and bullying about their stammer. Anti-bullying initiatives in schools and raising awareness about stammering in society can help other children to understand more about stammering and reduce these negative peer experiences. 
  • Emotional well-being - some children and young people who stammer report increase anxiety compared to children who do not. Social situations, in which they are expected to speak or meet new people, can be a particular source of worry for children. Young people can experience low self-esteem, apprehension about speaking in unfamiliar contexts, and hold negative views of their own communication ability. 
  • Mental health - many adults who stammer experience anxiety, low self-worth and depression. It is important to build confidence and resilience in children as they grow up, which can help offset difficulties with mental health later on.
  • Educational achievement - although stammering does not directly affect a child's educational attainment, it can affect their education in different ways. For example, it may be that children avoid certain subjects that rely heavily on public speaking, or they may limit their career options to industries that place less reliance on verbal communication. 
  • Life long impact - some people will avoid applying for face-to-face jobs for fear that their stammer may be judged negatively. Equally, some may stay in a job as they are anxious they will not be able to get another job. 
  • Social - making and maintaining relationships at school, with friends, loved ones and colleagues can be difficult for children who may be hesitant to join in with their peers due to their stammer. There is much more work to be done on raising awareness about stammering to make society more accepting of this speech difference. It is important that children are given the opportunity to flourish as confident communicators, whether they stammer or not. 

Stammering affects people differently and every child is individual. The extent to which stammering has an adverse impact on a child depends on a range of individual, environmental and family factors. Early intervention, such as speech and language therapy, can be very effective in helping children and families to manage the stammer, through developing confidence, building resilience and lessening the impact stammering has on their lives.

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