Help us set the questions for the future of stammering research!

Stammering charities, professional bodies, researchers, parents, teachers and young people who stammer have all come together to determine and define the most important research priorities. They have formed a steering group which have created this survey that will result in finding the most important questions to be answered by researchers, in the field of stammering. 

The steering group forms part of what is known as a Priority Setting Partnership. It involves voices from across the world of stammering as it’s essential to hear different points of view to ensure all opinions come across when creating the survey and agreeing the direction of the project. The members of the group will take responsibility for the Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) through meeting and discussing their thoughts over the next 12 – 18 months. You can find out more about how this project will work here

This survey is for anyone who wants to have a say about the most important questions to do with developmental stammering in children. This will shape the way of future research, which in turn will impact children’s experience in school, with their friends and that of their families. 

Stammering is a speech disorder, affecting around 8% of children. The condition disrupts verbal fluency and can result in difficulty getting the words out. Stammering can have a significant impact on a child’s social experiences and mental health. Children who stammer are more likely to be bullied, rejected by their peers and are at risk of facing societal stigma into adulthood. 

Ria Bernard, PhD student and research lead at Action for Stammering Children has said: “It’s exciting to see professional bodies, charities and the public, all come together to determine the most important questions to ask fellow researchers in stammering. There is a huge degree of uncertainty around the causes of stammering that we still need to uncover. According to research, 8% of children stammer at some point in their childhood, that’s 940,720 children under 16 in the UK. There is a small degree of understanding of some of the ways that it is caused, but much to still be discovered.” 

Kamini Gadhok MBE, chief executive, Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), said: “Many of our members provide speech and language therapy to children who stammer. Having more research on this top will be crucial to aiding children’s life chances from being school-ready to participating in school life, making friends and reducing their risk of having social, emotional and mental health difficulties. I’m, therefore, delighted that the RCSLT is a key partner on this important project. “ 

Tim Fell, past chair of the British Stammering Association, STAMMA has said: 

“STAMMA welcomes the initiative by ASC to identify and prioritise unanswered questions about developmental childhood stammering to inform future research for the benefit of children who stammer and their families. We look forward to contributing to the project by working on the steering committee.” 

Steven Gauge, Chief Executive of Action for Stammering Children said: “As the chief executive of Action for Stammering Children I need to know what ‘action’ stammering children and their families want to see. The James Lind Alliance process is a tried and tested way of finding out what sort of research questions people who have real life experience of stammering want answered. I’m hugely grateful to all the members of our working group, parents, researchers, speech and language therapists, the Royal College and STAMMA, for all their help in getting this important process started.” 

The partnership is being generously funded by the Woodroffe Benton Foundation. 

– ENDS –

Notes to the Editor 

For more information, contact Connor Tregunna at ASC: 07947344500 or [email protected] 

· Action for Stammering Children (ASC) is a UK charity which aims to ensure that every child and young person across the UK who stammers has access to effective services and support to help them meet the challenges they face. 

· The Charity is based in The Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children in Central London and commissions specialist assessments and therapies for children and young people that stammer, research and the training of speech and language therapists across the country. 

· Stammering crosses all races, cultures, religions and social groupings, conceals intellectual ability, affects educational choices and achievement, resulting in impaired communication skills, and in some cases can become a focus for teasing and bullying. Without appropriate support, in severe cases, a stammer may play a significant part in a young person’s ability to achieve their potential and to make a full contribution to society as an adult. 

· The terms stammering and stuttering refer to the same condition and are used interchangeably. ‘Stammering’ is more widely used in the UK, while ‘stutter’ is commonly used in the USA and Australia. 

· Since it was founded, ASC has supported 88,000 children and young people who stammer. There is a free helpline available to concerned parents – there was a significant increase in calls to the helpline over lockdown. Read more here.

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