Author: airedalestammeringtherapy

The Power of Poetry

There’s something about creative expression, whether that’s through poetry, music, dance, film or art, which speaks to people and reaches their emotions far more than any report, figures or statistics can ever do. That’s certainly been the case with the poem I wrote recently about the role of speech and language therapy, which seems to have struck a chord with all kinds of people. A week after posting it, it’s been shared/like/retweeted thousands of times, with SLTs (currently practising and retired therapists and students yet to qualify) sharing my frustration that our wonderful profession is misunderstood, misrepresented, underappreciated and underfunded.

More importantly, it has provoked a response from hundreds of people who have cause to be grateful to SLTs or whose lives are being adversely affected by long waiting lists and patchy access to SLT services. I am collating these responses and will share them with our Health Secretary and Shadow Health Secretary, in order to show them just what SLT services mean to people and the devastating effects on people’s life chances and quality of life when they are denied access to them.

Here is my poem and just some of the many moving and heart-felt responses. Please take the time to read them.

SLT poem (2)

Children and Parents

Oh this made me all tearful. We have certainly seen cutbacks in our area. M has had SALT intervention for both feeding and communication and he struggles greatly in both areas but we don’t have regular appointments in fact he doesn’t currently have a named speech and language therapist. I know that M would have plenty to say if he could.

So true – the devastating cuts to vital health & social care services meant nearly an 18mth wait for my child to start vital speech & language therapy at the time she entered school. I was lucky to have the option to move cities in order for her to start treatment & 4yrs later her speech development has massively come on – which probably wouldn’t have happened if we’d stayed. Not everyone is so fortunate.

It’s so frustrating ..the waiting list is ridiculous the number of children with SLC needs is rising rapidly with no or little support available..parents and schools are struggling and so frustrated .A poem which resonates with myself and my little one very much, thankyou.

This honestly just made me cry. You can not understand or know the true value of speech and communication until you know how hard it is when it doesn’t quite work as it should. It’s heartbreaking beyond all belief to watch someone you love not be understood, unable to express themselves, paralysed by an inability to actually speak and break down because they know they are different and “not like the other kids”. We’ve battled for years on this and we’re going to be battling for years to come. SALT needs more resources because the system isn’t working and that’s not the therapists fault but it’s like all of the NHS, under too much strain. Please share this poem in the hope that someone in power will see the true detriment of what’s going on and how lives are being affected.

Absolutely invaluable. .. fantastically written. .. my 3 year old is in need of this service and her confidence and progression is immense since she has started to communicate. … miles to go yet but could change this little girl’s life forever. Well done to you all.

Waiting on N’s third speech therapy assessment – this is a year now and no treatment or anything just more and more referring.

As a mum of a non-verbal autistic child – this made me tearful – so, so true – such a valuable service for many!

I know how important SALT are to us that are hard of hearing and more so as bubs has cerebral palsy and struggled with lumpy foods. Still non-verbal, only makes sounds and he’s 2 next Monday. Also my mum had a stroke so she needs help with her speech and swallowing… Not forgetting the lovely lady I got to see when I was assessed for a cochlea implant. I know how much she fought my corner as I was just over the NICE guideline by about 5% but she did it! I finally started my journey to better hearing. Keep up the fantastic work you all do!! That’s if the government don’t stop penalizing us disabled with more cuts.

Services everywhere are being cut to the bone, waiting times are months sometimes years long and a regional lottery of what services are available full stop. This explains so well, just how vital Speech and Language therapists are.

Speech therapists did so much for J when he was younger and had to attend a language unit 2 days a week and also helped L with her husky voice due to nodules in her throat she may one day need removed let’s hope they don’t cut the service many people may need.

In my family, a SALT therapist helped a child with eating problems. What they deal with is far wider than we realise. There are people out there who can’t even express that they are thirsty, or who are so traumatized they have stopped speaking, and can’t tell you what happened to them, or how they feel. Social media is a great communication tool.. but imagine you couldn’t use that, or anything, not even your gob…to tell people what you need, let alone want.. Cutting funding to any service is disgusting … give people their right to communicate.

Schools need Speech therapists to help children make sense of their day! Very valued but under funded resource!

We’ve been lucky in that we have been able to access S&L specialist support for our children, and we still continue to get this therapy for the ones that still need it. The need started at age 6 months, with a baby unable to suck or use her mouth in a productive feeding way. This need continued as the baby grew and was diagnosed with a severe speech and language disorder, then ASD. Through this support and many other teams my child grew and developed at her own rate. She still requires some language modification support, but is going to uni In September to eventually gain work within the NHS. None of this would have been possible without the specialist therapies she was able to have access to. Massive thank you to all the therapists out there, you do an amazing job that actually change lives.

Soooo true- s&l therapists are angels in my mind, you guys open up the doors for so many children.

I’ve had three of my children need speech therapy. The first had difficulties in hearing the correct sounds made when speaking and reproducing them when talking and writing, she had excellent help. My second child stammered, the referral took ages as the speech therapist only came to the school every other term because of cut backs. The first appointment was like a workshop for 20 mins with what was meant to be a term of weekly sessions, they managed to set up one and that was it. The difference in service had already changed drastically in 3 years (7 years ago). We had to struggle together to help her. She still occasionally has the stammer but it took us a lot of work. Our third child also had an occasional stammer we asked for help again and it was months before they came back to us with an appointment despite chasing them. The appointment was months down the line and by the time it came close they cancelled. They ended up making and cancelling a couple of times. We gave up and just used what we learned previously. These cutbacks have been harsh for years I dread to think what it is now like 4/5 years later. This is a much needed service and many have been left to get on with it and muddle through in the hope that things will be ok. Having a child who cannot speak confidently and clearly is heart wrenching and holds them back in so many ways.

Vital service for many, communication is a basic need in life, you simply will struggle without it, unfortunately too many therapists going down the private route knowing people with pay for it.  We pay £45 a fortnight for the speech therapist to go into our daughters school who has Down syndrome. Has she made progress yes she speaks very well, which will pay dividends in years to come, we’ve paid for this since she was 2, she’s now 8. It’s wrong we’ve paid when so much money in the public sector is wasted.

This is so true, and heart-breaking. I am witnessing it at Pre-school…. 2 – 4 year olds being denied basic rights because of (unelected) Government cuts…

I’m in tears! I work w/2-4 year olds, & we as educators are expected to do more than we are capable of, all round! Asked our EYIO for help – “It’s online!”

My child  (and therefore all of us) benefited from SLT – a much needed service.

A brilliant poem about a service which has made life easier for a lot of parents with children with speech and Lang. difficulties.

As an Early Years Setting we can certainly vouch for the amazing work SLTs do every day with our young children and their families.

Great poem. My son has autism. He has assessment after assessment regarding his speech. Yet no therapy for it, even though at age 6 he still can’t speak properly. We are told it’s because the therapists are too stretched. It’s frustrating to say the least.

We would have been lost without the amazing speech and language professionals who have worked with T. I’m currently having to do signing training myself with the staff where T goes to respite as the NHS can’t provide any support as they have so little funding. It’s not the team’s fault, it’s the constant budget cuts and increasing workloads and more and more children needing help and no adjustments being made in planning to deliver services. Yet another way of stripping the NHS and undervaluing the amazing staff who work there.

Yep, my 7yr old simply doesn’t get the professional input he needs. Relying on Teaching Assistants to deliver a wide spectrum of health (and other) services is not an acceptable model.

Speech therapy needs funding for all our futures.

Adults

Two of the best moments in my stroke recovery were passing my swallowing test so I was allowed to drink water and getting a valve fitted in my tracheotomy tube so I got my voice back (a cool robotic voice at that), great poem.

My SALT has been the only person I know I can pick up the phone and the person on the other end will just get what I’m talking about. She was my first contact 18 months ago and she’s been the only solid input since.

I am quite likely to need this service, as time goes by as I have MS. Please read it as it’s quite ‘brilliant’..

My husbands Speech therapists have been his Saviour since he had a Laryngectomy 3 years ago yesterday . They are wonderful people FUND THEM.

We frequently instruct SaLTs to help us understand our adult client better and help them express their feelings independently. (From a Lawyer)

Oh so, so true. As a teacher who lost her voice for nigh on ten weeks, this is so true. Two days after seeing the speech therapist and learning that I could carry on my job, with a little patience and some exercises, I had my voice back. An invaluable service.

I can remember having SLT as a child in late 1960’s/early 1970’s, after losing my hearing, acquiring a severe lisp & difficulty saying any words starting with “S”… very grateful they really helped my speech!

I needed help from a speech therapist in my early school days. To say the profession is invaluable doesn’t do it by half. I never had the chance to thank my therapist properly. So, by proxy, thank you for giving me my chances in life.

Two family members have received this help. Outstanding. Little recognised!! Until it’s YOU who needs us!!

I had to use this service as an adult. Life would have been so much poorer in many ways without their help.

I can’t wait for my appointment to start speech therapy. I have had virtually no voice for 6 months. There is a physical reason but it is so isolating. So many wee throw away comments are not now possible. By the time I have repeated it half a dozen times it has lost any meaning. Most people are patient but the other day I was in a shop, asked for what I wanted and the assistant turned to the women beside her and said” what did she say she wanted”. It took all my control not to burst into tears. If a speech therapist can give me back even some of my life, it would be wonderful.

Thank goodness I was born when there were no cuts etc. I am very grateful and thankful that my mum took me for speech therapy for several years. I had cleft palate so this service was vital to for me. Others should have this facility too so come on Mister Health Minister find some money for it!!!!

So true. My husband has had cancer and they have been invaluable in helping him learn to swallow. He now enjoys his food.

My Dad has been ill for many years, unexplained shadows on lung, sickness etc and to and fro from specialists with no definitive answer. Then his voice started to fail and he was referred to a speech therapist who is coming up with the answers and treatment. Acid reflux has destroyed half his vocal cords and part of his throat. She has sorted out a diet for him and got him on the right drugs. It now also looks as though his changing lung shadow may be caused by stuff getting in his lung due to his damaged throat. My Dad says his speech therapist has changed his life and definitely saved his voice. Brilliant work and the doctors really need to learn from them!

I lost my voice a few years ago. The speech therapist was incredibly helpful. (I got my voice back after seeing him). Services should be properly funded so everyone can access them, regardless of income or background.

An amazing poem. I’m on the autistic spectrum and went to a speech and language therapist when I was four years old because I had delayed language development. SLTs and what they do to help people is incredible.

Can’t thank my Mum’s SALT team enough for what they did for her in the weeks/months following her stroke. They didn’t just help her with her aphasia, they helped with her swallowing and helped us as a family be able to understand and communicate with her too.

Thank you. For Gil, who gave me my voice back…

Very true .. My husband was helped with his speech after surgery on his tongue after cancer treatment. Thank you!

I want to say thank you to you all, cos with you my mum wouldn’t have been able to talk after her first stroke

Role of Speech and Language Therapists

Literally cried. We’re so passionate about our jobs & the families & young people we work with & about the quality of service we deliver. It’s just getting harder & harder to provide what we’d love to.

People never really get what a SLT does, the amount of times people have said to me “oh I better speak properly, how now brown cow”.. worth a read.

I am very proud to be part of a profession that works so passionately to do the best for people, despite all the pressures it faces.

Brilliant poem, as a mum of a speech therapist and once upon a time worked one to one with deaf children, I know just how hard you all work, and it’s time people in the right places did too. You are amazing.

Should be called communication specialists. They are amazing.

A poetic tribute to a profession I’ve been involved in for over 25 years.. proud to be part of S&LT .

We need more speech and language therapists. You all play such a vital role especially in stroke care.

Thank you. After a disheartening day this has reminded why I still love my job, even after 21 years!

Brilliant, love being an SLT! What a great way to show the scope of our role . We certainly need more of them.

I never realised how much SALT do until my little cousin could not speak at all whilst the same time one of our elderly residents were getting assessed by SALT too on her swallowing, only because I was in both settings did I realise how much you guys do, very well written.

Terrific poem. From a retired SLT who still misses the job. SLTs make a real difference to real people.

I love this poem so much! Incredibly proud to be a speech therapist in the making – not just my future career/profession but also my absolute passion.

I’ve worked with quite a few SLTs and spoke to them 1:1 on a level. The amount they do and go through is crazy. People assume they just help with minor speech problems or speech delay but it’s so much more than that!

Very eloquent and all of it true. I was a head and neck cancer nurse for most of my 10 year career so I know the value of speech therapists very well.

Thank you for a great poem, and also for explaining the range of your work. I didn’t know the half of it!

Great way of explaining all a speech and language therapist does – brilliant people.

 

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So long, farewell

Well, that’s it. Our telemedicine project is officially finished! It seems incredible to believe that the twelve months is up. We have spent the day evaluating the results and pulling together our final report, which entailed looking back and remembering all the lovely people we’ve met and worked with along the way. I always encourage people coming to the end of therapy to look back, because it can help to remind them how far they’ve come. And wow, how far we’ve come! We’ve overcome numerous obstacles and barriers along the way, in particular with the technology, but we never lost sight of why we were doing this – to provide a service to people who would otherwise be left with no help. And that’s been a common theme of the feedback we’ve had. Some people were initially slightly wary of having to access therapy this way, but happy to do so since they had no other choice, and in some cases had been waiting years for therapy.

“Obviously the options were, either don’t get any treatment or I get the treatment via the technology.”

“The fact that it was easily accessible and free was key but, more importantly, I have struggled to access and receive any type of treatment for years.”

The results of our pre- and post-therapy evaluations show that people’s experience of having therapy this way was in the main better than their expectation.

Many times I would not even realise the fact that I was not in the same room with my therapist.”

“with Telemedicine, I found that I could just take video calls from home, and I had more flexibility in that respect; and it would save me travelling time and money. Those have been really important things.”

“Telehealth was more convenient for me to have sessions during working hours without the added commute time if attending face-to-face.”

“I was using my iPhone it was fine.  It’s just like doing a facetime.  It’s the same as that basically.”

This project was a leap of faith for us here at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, and we had no idea whether it would work at all. But twelve months on, this way of working – providing therapy online – has completely become the norm for us. So much so, that we’ve forgotten that it’s innovative and ground-breaking and, for some people, probably unthinkable. We look forward to sharing our final results, which provide robust evidence that for our patients, therapy delivered in this way is just as effective, and in many respects better than face to face therapy.

So what happens next? Well, we can’t say too much at the moment, but there are some promising developments which lead us to be hopeful that we may be able to continue the service in the not too distant future. Watch this space….

Being innovative within the NHS is an interesting experience. Both Jody and I have backgrounds outside of the NHS, and I think we were both frustrated at times at having to follow procedures and protocols which felt at odds with what we knew we needed to do. Having a slightly maverick approach was certainly helpful in this regard! What made the whole thing possible was having the external funding for the project from the Health Foundation, because that allowed us the protected time that we needed to work out what needed to happen, try things out, re-evaluate, try again, improve, etc. That time is not normally available to busy clinicians, who are often fire-fighting just to keep up, so we are hugely grateful to the Health Foundation for awarding us the funding. We are also grateful to have had great support from Alison, Cath and Sophie within the Trust and from Norbert and Tim from the British Stammering Association, who were our partners throughout and an invaluable source of advice, expertise and encouragement.

   

There have been many amazing moments over the last year, but our most memorable was without doubt when we received a Guardian Public Service Award in the Digital and Technology category. Tim, Jody and I had a wonderful evening at the awards ceremony, and were completely bowled over when we found out we had won. We have also recently won a Pride of Airedale award and have been nominated by our local MP for an NHS70 parliamentary award.

We are hugely proud of these achievements, but far more proud of what our participants have been enabled to achieve, including Nadim whose therapy focused on being able to make a best man’s speech at his friend’s wedding – it all went swimmingly!

We’ll leave you with the comments of Tom from his final therapy session, which encapsulate everything we’re privileged to have done:

“I’ve never been as happy as I am now, because of opening up to everyone and having the confidence to talk about it. I’ve never been able to do the things I do now. It feels great to know I’m not relying on my wife to ring up for me. It’s normal stuff, which I wouldn’t have done. I hope you can help other people because it opens up so many avenues. It can change your life. I’ve been in some dark areas and now I look at myself and I’m really happy with myself.”

Bye for now

Steph and Jody

School for Stammerers – help or hindrance?

The ITV documentary School for Stammerers made for emotional viewing, and I commend all the participants for their bravery and the programme producers for an excellent portrayal of the daily challenges associated with having a stammer. Although it’s great that awareness of these challenges has been raised, there are a number of issues brought up by this kind of documentary which may not help to advance the cause of people who stammer, and which in fact have the potential to reinforce the stigma associated with stammering.

The stories shown were hugely inspiring, but the impression given is that if only everyone who stammered had access to such help, they too could ‘overcome their stammer’, and all their problems would be solved. This is absolutely not the case.

As an NHS Speech and Language Therapist specialising in stammering, I work with people of all ages, and I have yet to meet two people whose stammer affects them in quite the same way. This means that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to stammering therapy.  The high level of training, skill and expertise required of NHS specialist Speech Therapists means that therapy can be uniquely tailored to each person and their individual requirements. The intensive McGuire programme, as depicted in School for Stammerers, is one very specific approach to stammering, which can work brilliantly for some people, but certainly not for all.

What really concerned me during the programme was the language used. The constant references to overcoming and controlling stammering merely reinforce the message that stammering is something that must be controlled if it is to be socially acceptable. It’s worth noting that controlling a stammer is incredibly difficult and requires a huge amount of effort, even with professional help, but surely the issue here is why the need to control it at all?

Over the last decade or two, there has been a real shift within the stammering community towards a more socially inclusive model, which doesn’t view stammering as something shameful, but as something to be accepted and maybe even embraced. Society’s attitudes towards other forms of neurodiversity, such as dyslexia and autism, have changed dramatically and for the better over the last few decades, but for some reason, our view of stammering, which is also neurological in basis, seems to lag way behind. Programmes such as School for Stammerers inadvertently collude in this by reinforcing the notion that stammering is something to be fixed rather than accepted.

The social view of disability recognises that a condition is only disabling when external barriers placed in the way of the person prevent their access to and participation in everyday activities, education, employment etc. People who stammer are disabled, not by their stammer, but by other people interrupting them, mocking them, putting the phone down on them, finishing their sentences for them, judging them negatively, making assumptions about their character and intelligence, denying them employment opportunities… I could go on.

These are all experiences common to most people who stammer, who show the same range of character traits and intelligence as everyone else. I would argue that it’s not for people to control their stammer, but for those of us who don’t stammer to control our response, i.e. to wait patiently and listen respectfully, as we would want anyone to do for us when we are speaking.

For anyone who stammers watching the documentary and thinking of seeking help, but who can’t afford the considerable cost of the McGuire programme, I would like to be able to reassure them that high-quality, effective therapy is available free of charge on the NHS. And in some areas, it is. However, as with many other services, a postcode lottery has developed for the provision of adult stammering therapy.  Funding cuts have hit Speech and Language Therapy hard and many areas no longer have a specialist service.

That is why I have spent the last several months trialling an innovative way of delivering speech therapy remotely to adults who stammer in areas where there is no local provision. Many of the people accessing the therapy tell me they have been waiting years to get some form of help.  As long as NHS services continue to be underfunded, many more people will go without help. This may assist private providers’ ability to thrive, but excludes those without the means and deprives all from accessing the broad spectrum approach offered by NHS Speech and Language Therapists.

 

 

 

Award Success!

 

This time a week ago, Jody and I were on a train heading to London on our way to the Guardian Public Service Awards evening, happy to be attending a swanky awards ceremony (not something we NHS employees routinely do!) but never dreaming that the following day we’d be heading back again clutching the winning award for the digital and technology category!

    

Although the award is in the name of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, the project is a joint venture between us and the British Stammering Association, and we were delighted that their Chair, Tim Fell, was able to join us at the ceremony. In fact, this project would never have seen the light of day if it weren’t for Tim, because the whole thing was his idea in the first place. He and Norbert, BSA’s Chief Executive, have been a tireless source of support and advice from day one.

    

The evening was fantastic fun and felt truly celebratory. There was such a lovely atmosphere, and it felt wonderful to be celebrating different successes from across the public sector, with people doing incredible work despite the difficult financial circumstances most public sector organisations find themselves in today. We felt privileged to be among them. The actor Sally Phillips was an excellent host and gave an entertainingly irreverent introduction.

      

Since our category was announced quite early on, we then had the rest of the evening to relax and enjoy the free food and wine – I think it’s fair to say some of us were somewhat giddy by the end of the evening; not mentioning any names…  It’s probably a good job that we weren’t required to make an Oscars-style acceptance speech!

       

This award is testament to the hard work from everyone in the project team. While it’s great that the award has helped to raise the profile of the project, what’s even more important is that it’s provided an opportunity to raise awareness and increase understanding of stammering among a wider audience.

I am so grateful to all of our participants, and continue to be astounded by their bravery and resourcefulness in managing their stammer, sometimes within an environment where stammering is little understood at best, and seen as something to poke fun at at worst. Hopefully this award will help to get the word out that there is help out there, and that stammering does not need to limit people’s lives.

Official photographs by Alicia Canter for the Guardian

 

What I have learnt

Whilst at university I had a part time role working behind a bar. I spent a lot of time stood at a bar making chit-chat with the regular customers. I can remember one of our regulars did stammer. I was aware of the difficulty they had in getting their words out but that’s where my awareness ended. I could see the frustration in their eyes, I could even sometime sense there was more that they wanted to say but couldn’t.

When I started this role in April, it became instantly apparent how far-reaching the effects of the stammer can be. We have people who have gone into different careers to that which they had initially wanted because they had thought of the stammer as a barrier to their chosen career.

Image result for BARRIER

The stammer has stopped some of our participants doing things such as taking their children out by themselves in case they can’t get help if it is needed.

We have heard of people pretending to forget the name of their favourite restaurant as it’s a word that they stammer on. Our clients find themselves keeping quiet in conversations where actually, they have great input to give, but they worry about the words, the timing and what people will think of them.

It has literally affected every part of their lives.

Some of our clients have had negative reactions from family or colleagues when they have opened up to them about their stammer. Some people have found that when they have taken the very brave step to discuss their stammer, they have been dismissed and told ‘don’t be silly, you don’t stammer’. There has been no awareness of the fact that these people have spent their lives hiding their stammer, switching their words, changing the meaning of what they were saying in order to sound more fluent.

This in turn has made them reluctant to open up to others, which has only compounded the stress in their lives. To then be dismissed when you do find the courage to open up and are met with ‘don’t be silly, you don’t stammer’ can be really harmful as people are at risk of feeling like they aren’t be taking seriously and not being supported.

I have learnt there is no ‘magic cure’ for a person who stammers. The therapy won’t stop the stammer, but it will help the participant realise that to stammer is nothing to be ashamed of.  It is down to others to be patient and listen well.

I also think that actually stammering is as big or as small a part of a person’s life as they determine. It is not for any of us to judge how it should affect people. The best thing that can be done is be patient, be supportive and don’t dismiss anybody’s feelings, whatever they may be.

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Analysis of the project

One of our colleagues has pulled together some really interesting data (see below) showing where our participants live in the UK. There seems to be a good spread right across the country but there is a definite concentration in the south.

One of the requirements for people wanting to access the therapy is that they cannot access any therapy locally. There are many reasons why they may not be able to access the therapy. One of the reasons may be that there is no local NHS service in their area. This could explain why we have so many participants from the London area. Despite the higher population, there seems be a great need for more trained specialists in Adult Stammering in the NHS and this is hopefully something that our project is helping to address.

Having no access to local provision is not the only way to access therapy on our project though. Some of our participants cannot feasibly access the service in their local area for reasons such as their working life restricting them, the journey being too far or expensive to make regularly or the waiting list being far too long.

We have some fantastic personal stories of why people have felt now is the right time to undertake therapy for their stammer. From starting a new profession, to upcoming public speaking right through to wanting to feel comfortable being able to take their kids to the park by themselves and not feel worried that they won’t be able to get assistance if the need arose. The range of reasons is vast, and all are equally as valid as the next.

42 patients have now referred themselves to the project. This was our original target for the full year so it is fantastic to get to this milestone at half way through the project.

Approximately 62% of our participants are male. The current estimation of males to females who stammer worldwide is approximately 80% men to 20% women. So although we do have more men than women on the trial, we have a stronger representation from women than statistics would have predicted.

Our average age of participant is 35. This is quite a low figure and we do wonder whether it is due to the nature in which we communicate about the project, and the way in which it is accessed. We are offering therapy in an innovative way and this might not be reaching everybody.

However, we do think that the technology we use, and the way in which we run the project is really accessible for everyone and nobody should be put off by the fact that it’s done over the internet!Project Graphic - upto 42

Award nomination for the project

Well, it’s been a busy time recently here on the project. The big news is that we have been shortlisted for a Guardian Public Service Award in the Digital and Technology category. This is a massive accolade for the project team, and it’s wonderful that our work is receiving that kind of recognition. Hopefully this will help to highlight the many struggles faced on a daily basis by people who stammer and get the word out that there is specialist help available. It feels like we’ve come a very long way since last year, when the British Stammering Association chairman Tim Fell first rang me to discuss whether delivering  therapy by telemedicine to adults who stammer might be an option.

And talking of Tim, he has just finished an amazing walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End, raising awareness of stammering as he went  – an incredible achievement! I had the honour of walking a very short section of the route with him as he passed through Yorkshire. There’s still time to donate at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stamwalkLast week I was at the Oxford Dysfluency Conference, an amazing opportunity to learn from researchers and specialists in stammering from all over the world. My brain is still hurting from all the information I took in! There was lots of interest in the project, and it was wonderful to be able to share our learning with others.

And meanwhile, the day to day work goes on. Referrals continue to come in, and therapy continues to be delivered. We received some lovely feedback this week from one of our participants, who said,

“Since our last appointment, I’ve been a lot more open with how I stammer and in doing so have become more comfortable in my speech and how I feel around stammering. I’ve been really impressed with telemedicine. It’s a fantastic service and personally I’ve found it far more beneficial than the face to face meetings I had with my previous speech therapist.”