Disrupts the forward flow of speech with repetition, prolonging or blocking of words and sounds with possible facial tension and extra body movement. The pitch, tone and volume of the voice may be altered.
Has no single cause, although there may be a genetic link. There is no single or definite cure and there is no single best strategy for supporting pupils. Current research indicates that the cause of stammering has a physiological basis in the brain structure.
Is found in every culture and language at an incidence of about 1% of the adult population and is not linked with ability or personality profiles.
Is usually made worse by stress and anxiety and can come and go, even in the same conversation.
Usually starts between 2 and 5 years and early intervention close to onset by a speech and language therapist who specialises in stammering gives the best chance of recovery. It is thought that about 1 in 80 children of school age do stammer, but with modern therapy approaches leading to recovery for young children this number should continue to fall.
Almost all local NHS speech and language therapy services will accept referrals directly from parents or schools on parents' behalf. Intervention is most successful at the pre-school stage.
If the pupil is stammering and is not receiving therapy his speech should be monitored and, if there is concern, there should be a discussion with the parents and, if appropriate, the pupil about arranging a referral.
The BSA provides a free information and support service.
Remember that in some areas resources are limited and there may be a waiting list for therapy. In the meantime staff should use these BSA strategies until the therapist is available to give advice tailored to the specific needs of the pupil.