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As you may know, I am a Newly Qualified Speech and Language Therapist (SLT). Lots of people do not know how varied this profession is, but many of those who do know something about it, associate it with stammering. Speech and Language therapy covers a huge range of speech, language, communication and swallowing disorders; and this does indeed include stammering.
I'm sure stammering means something slightly different to everyone, depending on the experience you have. This could be from seeing it on TV (e.g. in the film 'A fish called Wander', or Gareth Gates), personal experience (having a stammer, or knowing someone who does) or just hearing about it in general. I think the profile of stammering has been greatly raised since last year's film 'The King's Speech' which is the story of King George VI and how he coped with his stammering.
Stammering means something different to each person who stammers too, some people are only mildly bothered by it, whereas it rules other people lives. But whatever your knowledge of stammering, I hope this review of 'Helping children cope with Stammering' proves to be of interest and/or is useful.
As part of my course at university we learned about stammering. I wrote this review for ciao when I was revising for my Dysfluency exam and I have updated it for here. I read this book as part of my revision and I thought I'd share my views on it with you. Stammering is a particular area of interest to me as, as well as learning about it on my course, my 14 year old nephew also stammers.
~ Stammering ~
I'm sure you would all know if you were listening to someone who has a stammer. No one has speech which is 100% fluent (everyone hesitates, makes slight repetitions or false starts) but some people's speech is less fluent than others. Stammering can present in different forms and it is not always the same in each person. It can be whole word repetitions (can-can-can I have a drink?), part word repetitions (m-m-my name is..), blocking (where the person's mouth is in position but no word comes out), sound elongation (I f----eel sick), or problems with airflow.
Stammering is complex and there are still many questions unanswered about the causes but this book is a good starting point if you know someone who stammers and want to help. There is no 'cure' for stammering, but if it is better understood more help can be provided, both from people who know the person who stammers as well as the professional's involved (speech and language therapist).
"Stammering and stuttering are used interchangeably but are actual different terms for the same thing. Stammering is used more in the UK and stuttering is more widely used in the USA"
~ Jackie Turnbull and Trudy Stewart ~
The authors of this book are big names in stammering and they have written a number of books and research articles. They are experienced speech and language therapists based in Leeds and they specialise in working with children and adults who stammer. They are also actively involved in the British Stammering Association.
~ The Book ~
The book is split into 8 chapters and is written to be read from start to finish, although some sections can be easily dipped in and out of. It starts with an introduction then goes on to describe stammering and how to make sense of it. There is a chapter on early dysfluency then another on borderline and confirmed, so whichever type of stammering a person has, it is covered in this book. Further chapters in the book explain how parents can get help for their child and the sort of help that is available.
The book is easy to read, and is written in simple language. Any technical terms that are needed are clearly explained, so you don't need any prior knowledge before picking up this book. As a student SLT, this book was really useful to read alongside my studies as it helped me to see things from the perspective of parents as well as clarify some ideas and make them more concrete and easier to understand in my own mind.
There are case examples of children at each of the three stages of stammering (which are each clearly explained in the book) and these cases help to make the information more applicable and no doubt if you are reading this book because you know a child who stammers, you will be able to relate some aspects to them. The cases are then discussed with more information to aid understanding of stammering.
Within each chapter there are sections which are split up with sub headings and bullet points making the information easily accessible. Where appropriate there are diagrams to go alongside some of the theories that are used to help explain stammering.
Throughout the book it looks at the child as a whole, as each child is an individual and it should never be thought of that stammering is the main thing in their life. Their stammer is just one part of the child, so it is important to understand about the child's life etc to get the full picture. The book also explains that stammering is not the fault of the parent. Lots of parents blame themselves that their child stammers, but this is not the case. The book helps to put parent's minds at rest as well as look at the different emotions that the parents might be feeling as well as the child who stammers.
The book finishes with useful addresses and further reading, in case you want to find out more.
~ Overall ~
This book is well written and is easily accessible to a variety of audience members. I found it useful to read as a student but feel that parents, teachers, friends, or even the person who stammers would find this book useful. It proved to be a useful addition to my reading for the exam but I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone seeking extra information about stammering. (Perhaps before or whilst seeking the advice of a qualified SLT)
Sheldon Press: 1996
Used from 1p on Amazon (rrp £6.99)
Thanks for reading!