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On the 21st of October, Action for Stammering Children Youth Panel members Thomas Grattoni-May and Phoebe Avbulimen made an appearance on the BBC Breakfast sofa alongside Chair of Trustees, Dame Jane Roberts, and hosts Naga Munchetty and Charlie Stayt. 

An aptly timed interview, the day before International Stammering Awareness Day 2023. The interview centred around our new BBC Lifeline appeal, and highlighted the experiences of both Thomas and Phoebe, who also feature in our appeal. 

Naga opened the interview: “It’s really interesting speaking to [you both], because I think what lots of people don’t understand, is that when someone has a stammer, [it’s not because] you’re being slow thinking, it’s just getting the words out – and people need to show patience, and to let you finish your sentence.” 

Thomas replied: “Exactly – the most frustrating thing is when people finish our sentences – we know exactly what we want to say, but we just need a little more time to say it.” 

Phoebe and Thomas on the BBC Breakfast sofa

Phoebe addressed her personal experience of stammering: “Simple things, such as talking to friends – if you have a funny story you want to tell them, perhaps it can just take a bit longer, that’s all” 

On advice for talking to a person who stammers, Phoebe said: “Personally speaking, I would just say to people – ask the person who stammers ‘how best can I actually help you?’ – Because everyone is different.” 

Dame Jane Roberts, Chair of our charity, provided some insight into the social and emotional impact on children’s development and dispelled some of the common misconceptions around stammering: 

“There’s no cognitive impact, children who stammer are no less intelligent than anyone else. The social and emotional impact, however, can be profound.” 

“If children and young people get the respect and the confidence that they need, it can have a transformative effect. Also, for those young people who do want intervention therapy then the earlier the intervention, the better.” 

“8% of children will stammer at some point in their lives – it’s not uncommon.” 

You can watch our BBC Lifeline appeal with Colin Firth by clicking the button below. Our appeal ends on Saturday, 5th of November 2023. 

BBC Lifeline

Thomas said of his experience: “I was privileged to be interviewed on BBC Breakfast along with my fellow Youth Panel member, Phoebe Avbulimen and Dame Jane Roberts, Chair of Action for Stammering Children. We talked about the challenges of living with a stammer and addressed common misconceptions around stammering, all to coincide with International Stammering Awareness Day.”

Due to BBC iPlayer practises this interview is no longer available to watch on repeat.