Stammering Service Gives Karis Confidence To Talk Again

Speaking with a stammer once meant Karis Taylor would plan her entire day around avoiding other people.

Now, 18 months after starting speech and language therapy with a specialist service in Lincolnshire, she has regained her confidence to talk again.

Karis was about 20-years-old when she found there were times where she was struggling to get her words out: "At first we dismissed it as something that ran in our family but it kept getting worse. I put it down to stress and it would come and go. I moved to Lincoln and transferred my job here, but soon found I was avoiding answering the phone. I got to the point where I would avoid nights out with friends because I didn't want to order drinks at the bar."

Mum-of-two Karis, now 36, saw her doctor and was referred for speech and language therapy but at the time the stammering service was not available in Lincolnshire.

She tried various other 'cures', but it wasn't until her son started to stammer and was seeing a children's speech and language therapist that Karis was referred to Nicola Bush.

Nicola, an Advanced Speech and Language Therapist at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, helped to re-start a stammering service in the county to provide adults with dedicated, specialist therapy.

Karis explained: "It had got so bad that I when I went to fill up my car with fuel, I couldn't tell them what pump I was at. In the mornings I would map out my day based on how many people I might speak to and how I could get out of it. When I was made redundant last year, I was petrified about going for interviews. I didn't think I would ever be able to have a job where I had to talk to people again. Nicola has helped me so much and knowing that there was someone there who I could talk to was brilliant."

Nicola sees Karis at Lincoln's Newland Clinic once a month. Therapy focuses on improving her understanding and acceptance of her stammer and implementing speech fluency techniques to reduce the incidence of stammering.

Karis has since gained the confidence to speak at LCHS's Trust Board meeting to share her story and has secured a new job, working in a Patient Advice and Liaison Service for an NHS Trust.

Nicola said: "Stammering is thought to affect about one per cent of the adult population, which suggests about 5,744 people in Lincolnshire alone have a stammer. Karis has demonstrated it is never too late to work on your speech, or on yourself, and many others in our community may benefit from input for their stammer. Stammering not only impacts on how speech sounds, but has a large impact on thoughts and emotions, and for change to be made in a person's life, it is important to address both of these areas in therapy. Whilst I have guided her along the way, Karis's courage and motivation to change is what has changed her speech and her outlook. She has been a pleasure to work with."

If you, a family member or a friend has a stammer and you would be interested in finding out about how speech and language therapy can provide support, please call 01778 426149 or contact the team via the form on the speech and language therapy page on the website www.lincolnshirecommunityhealthservices.nhs.uk