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Can I tell you about stammering? A guide for friends, family and professionals, by Sue Cottrell

Cherry Hughes | 07.04.2014

Book review. Reviewed by Cherry Hughes, BSA Education Officer

'Can I talk to you about stammering' coverThis 39-paged illustrated book is specifically intended to encourage children who stammer aged 7+, their friends, and the adults involved with them, to be aware of the difficulties that may be encountered when you stammer. It is written from the point of view of Harry, a young boy who stammers. Through his thoughts and feelings we are given a really authentic insight into what it is like for him in his daily life when he stammers.

I was impressed by the detail of Harry’s experiences and reactions. All the situations that are likely to cause problems for children who stammer at school and in their community are well described. Much sound advice about how best to cope with these is offered throughout so that the reader learns about stammering and how to give support. I particularly liked Harry’s description of how he is supported by his teacher - she meets with Harry and his mum and Harry explains what would help him the most. His teacher then uses those ideas and passes them on to other teachers.

The book is very comprehensive in its coverage of stammering, with information based on research presented easily and simply for children to understand and then to use in situations they might meet themselves, whether they stammer or not. Some serious messages about stammering are conveyed through Harry’s comments that would interest a young reader, for example that stammering can come and go, that episodes may be triggered by stress of some kind, that children do not usually stammer when reading in unison with others and that stammering ‘can make you feel lonely’.

The author’s own son stammers and she mentions the support he received from the McGuire Programme in the preface. However, within the story Harry also mentions speech and language therapy and the appendix gives a comprehensive list of organisations offering therapy and/or information, including the BSA. The message to parents therefore is objective and encourages them to seek help as they prefer best.

I really enjoyed reading this book; it was insightful and actually quite moving for me, as I stammered a lot when I was a child. I could connect with Harry’s feelings at that age. I could appreciate from my own experience just how important it is for him to get the support he enjoys from his family, teachers and friends. I would highly recommend this book for young readers whether they stammer or not, for parents and professionals who could use it to encourage open communication with a child who stammers and, as it is part of a series that explains various conditions, it is a very useful resource for lessons in personal and social education.

Can I tell you about stammering?… is published by Jessica Kingsley and is available to buy at

From Speaking Out Spring 2014, p21