People Are Bullied Because they are Different and Unique – Stammering and Bullying

We all know that a person can be bullied for any reason – because they are different and unique. With the aim of making the world a more understanding and kinder place, we’d like to raise awareness of the challenges that face those who stammer.

People who are dysfluent, or people who stammer, are disproportionally affected by bullying and the way people react to stammerers can have a significant impact on their self-esteem and necessary friendship-making (“Self-reports of short- and long-term effects of bullying on children who stammer,” Siohban Hugh-Jones & Peter Smith, British Journal of Educational Pyschology 1999). Similarly, adults who experienced bullying as a child, because of their stammer, are likely to have higher anxiety over social interaction and other psychosocial problems (‘Long-term Consequences of Childhood Bullying in Adults who Stutter,” Gordon Blood & Ingrid Blood, Journal of Fluency Disorders 2016).

Helping to raise awareness and sharing some of the issues that stammerers face, Rich Whincup tells his extremely inspirational story on the Victoria Derbyshire Show here.

We’ve listed some useful tips below, provided by the British Stammering Association to help us be more inclusive to people with speech disorders.

Top Tips When Talking With a Person Who is Less Fluent

Remember the majority of people who stammer are within the same range of intelligence as those who do not stammer.

Give the speaker time to finish and do not interrupt or finish off words.

Listen attentively and, if appropriate in the context, repeat back some part of what was said so that the speaker feels that what they said is more important than how it was said.

Maintain normal eye contact and do not show any impatience. For example, avoid frequently nodding; looking at a watch or surreptitiously getting on with another task while the person is speaking.

Slow your own speech with natural pauses, demonstrating that there is no need to rush.

When asking a question allow time for thinking so that the speaker does not feel under pressure to answer immediately.

Aim to build self-esteem by looking interested when the person is speaking, making positive comments to demonstrate this and develop the conversation. Use the speaker’s first name regularly when you reply so they develop a sense of trust in your speaking relationship. The speaker is more likely to develop the confidence to manage communicating with you, even when stammering severely.

Be open to any hints in the conversation that the speaker may wish to share with you his own views on what approaches and adaptations they have found to be helpful, build on those when more conversations take place.

In a group of speakers, be sensitive to the possibility that any member whom you do not know well may stammer and remember these tips.

Covert Stammering – A minority of people who stammer may not appear to do so, either because they use strategies to avoid words that cause them to stammer or possibly completely restrict their speaking and socialising that their speech is rarely heard. This can cause deep anxieties that are buried beneath the surface and cause great distress to the stammerer. Be alert to this possibility.

Things Not to Say to Someone who StammersWhether it's people finishing your sentences, or being told to "spit it out", here are nine things people with stammers are tired of hearing… 

To learn more about the impact of stammering to the neurology of stammering, listen here . If there's one piece about stammering you listen to this year, make it this one.

For training resources for teachers with video clips of children talking about their stammering, please go to www.stammeringineducation.net

For further information, please visit https://www.stammering.org

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