Not just the King's Speech
Following the huge success of British movie The King’s Speech, stammering has recently been in the media spotlight. The film won four Oscars last month, telling the story of King George VI and how he learned to control his stammer, thanks to help from a speech therapist.
The movie draws on a famous example of a King tackling his communication difficulties, but every day thousands of ordinary people with stammers are learning to cope with their problems with the help of Speech and Language Therapists.
The North West London Hospitals NHS Trust is a leading centre of Speech and Language Therapy, with dedicated teams who help both adults and children with speech problems. Running one-to-one and group therapy session for adults, the Trust also sends therapists into community settings to support children and young people who stammer.
Stammering typically develops when children are between two to five-years-old. On rare occasions people can develop stammers in adulthood. It is particularly important to treat children with stammers early to try and prevent their speech difficulties continuing into adulthood (while around five per cent of children have a stammer, just one per cent of adults do but these adults rarely lose their stammer completely).
Rebecca Churcher, Paediatric Speech and Language Therapist, explains: “We encourage parents to come forward if they think their child is developing a stammer, so we can try and get to the bottom of the problem. Speech therapy can produce remarkable results, particularly in children under five, as speech and behavioural patterns have not set in.”
For those people, like King George, who stammer as adults it’s equally important for them to access the right treatment and support. Two weeks ago, the Adult and Paediatric Speech and Language teams promoted their services at Northwick Park and Central Middlesex Hospitals. They were joined by Norbert Lieckfeldt, Chief Executive of the British Stammering Association, who said: “I have had a stammer all my life and it is only through therapy that I have developed strategies to cope. I am now very fluent and give talks and do live radio interviews, but it was only through help from SLTs such as the excellent ones you have at NWLH Trust.”
Parents who are worried that their child might have a speech problem can discuss this with their GP or contact the Paediatric Therapy department for further information on 0208 869 3010.
Adults who want further support in managing their stammer can be referred by their GP or can call the SLT department for further advice on 02088692410.