Sometimes I s-start to stutter: Rotary 2010


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A successful talk I gave this evening to the Leighton-Linslade Rotary Club on behalf of The British Stammering Association. About my personal experiences with stuttering, the work of the BSA and how to help someone who stammers.

I'm happy to talk to other Rotary Clubs!

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  • Lyric from a song, "...But sometimes I get nervous and s-start to stutter / And I f-fumble every word I utter ...", DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince / Jacobs; Mayberry, K; Pierce, M; Smith ... (1993),   The British Stammering Association - Rotary Club of Leighton-Linslade -  
  • Image "B-DNA", Creative Commons licensed (CC)-by-nc-sa,   Also,  You can make anything from Lego, “ Stammering Genes”, February 2010 – new research published - doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0902630
  • (Cartoon, Copyright British Stammering Association, used with permission.) Cartoon from,   Also "Fluntering",
  • Creative Commons license.   (Old) newspaper advert,  " Do not stammer. Cured six years, Mr. Elwyn Steck ..."
  • Not CC licensed :(   " If you stammer... 1. It's curable, so don't worry... " - Personally, I would say there is no cure for an adult stammer.
  • Ice-bergs are a common metaphor in speech therapy - most of the "stammer" is hidden - that is, emotions, thoughts...   Charles Van Riper, American Speech Therapist and person with stammer, “ stuttering is everything we do trying not to stutter. ” + Wikimedia Commons   Also,
  • "Open All Hours" was a BBC sitcom written by Roy Clarke, featuring a shop keeper Arkwright (Ronnie Barker) who stammered. (Nick: I actually really like/respect Ronnie Barker, David Jason and this sitcom, but common depictions of a person who stammers are in comedies, and as "weak" characters - this makes many people uncomfortable.)   Photograph source,
  • This quote attributed to Moses has led some to speculate that he had a stammer.  However, recent research suggests some other speech impediment.   Also,   "Speech is human, silence is divine, yet also brutish and dead: therefore we must learn both arts", attr. Thomas Carlyle (Scot. historian), 1791-1881.  
  • Taken from the BSA web site:   Advocacy, eg. BSA contribution to the Speakers' Conference (UK Gov.) Eg. Number 10 (Downing Street) reception - BSA and Stuttering Foundation of America, Sarah Brown, Ed Balls and others,
  • The British Stammering Association home page
  • My personal top 10 dos and don't s when meeting someone who stammers. "Don't panic!" - it's not a fit/ stroke...!  ...Perhaps try to help - if it looks like I'm tiring! (Some people with stammers may not take kindly to this, no matter how tired they look!) Ask/ talk – teachers may like to ask children who stammer how they can help, but you should accept that young people (even older people) may not be comfortable acknowledging their stammer.   In return, I'll try to be open about my stammer, and try to put you at your ease.   Badge/ image, Jim Linwood/ CC-by ("Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" reference)
  • Links:  Copyright: Except where stated, use under a Creative Common Attribution-Noncommercial-Share-alike license, BSA logo, Copyright The British Stammering Association, used with permission. Disclaimer: Views expressed here and in my talk are my own personal views, not those of the British Stammering Association - Nick Freear.  
  • Sometimes I s-start to stutter: Rotary 2010

    1. 1. "Sometimes I s-start to stutter" Nick Freear   Leighton-Linslade Rotary, 29 March 2010
    2. 2. Nature or nurture?       B-DNA [cc]
    3. 3. "John does NOT stammer and never HAS done!"
    4. 4. "...cured six years"  [CC-by-nc-nd]
    5. 5. "The Cure for Stammering", Popular Science, Jul 1940
    6. 6. Nature Antarctica 18, Georges Nijs  [CC-by]
    7. 7. "Open All Hours"
    8. 8.   <ul><li>&quot;Lord, open my breast, and do </li></ul><ul><li>      Thou ease me my task. </li></ul><ul><li>Unloose the knot upon my tongue, </li></ul><ul><li>      that they may understand my words&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Moses, Koran. 20:26-29. </li></ul>
    9. 9. British Stammering Association <ul><li>Mission </li></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;to initiate and support research into stammering </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to identify and promote effective therapies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to offer support to all whose lives are affected by stammering&quot; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Children, adults, parents, teachers... therapists </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How? helpline, coordinating self-help groups, conference... </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to promote awareness of stammering &quot; </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10.  
    11. 11. My dos and don't s <ul><ul><li>Don't panic! I know it looks a bit off-putting/weird. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don't &quot;ignore&quot;/ look at the person next to me, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don't guess or try to finish my sentence, please, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don't interrupt, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don't say &quot;relax&quot;, &quot;take a deep breath&quot; etc., </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do appear patient, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do say &quot;it's OK&quot; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maintain eye-contact. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perhaps try to help (guess) after a while - careful! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask/ talk! (particularly for teachers)  </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Thank you. Questions? The British Stammering Association Helpline - 0845 603 2001 Nick Freear