Some interesting research was launched earlier this year on the relationship between stammering and social anxiety in adults. Stammering affects 720,000 people in the UK and 70 million people worldwide (Source: British Stammering Association). Speech and language therapy is a common method of ‘treatment’, which has seemed a little odd at times. For example, some have wondered why people with a stammer are referred for a treatment that relies on lengthy sessions speaking to a therapist – especially where social anxiety also features. It was identified that people then refuse access to therapy which means they do not receive the treatment that could help.
The research continues and is looking at methods for overcoming the social anxiety which can be associated with people who stammer – and which may also be a barrier to accessing treatment. It is trialling some computer-based programmes on social anxiety that have been used with people who do not stammer and, after a four-week period, speech fluency and social anxiety levels will be assessed again. The results will be used to identify further study, and hopefully this will lead to a more effective form of therapy for those who stammer. The research is taking place at the University of East Anglia.