Leeds Community Healthcare NHS trust speech and language therapist, Alison McLaughlin, has become the third person in the UK to qualify as an advanced practitioner in fluency disorders.

Alison, who works for the Stammering Support Centre in Leeds, successfully completed the one year European Specialisation Fluency Disorders course in the specialist practice area of fluency disorders. This course is geared towards providing an in depth knowledge of the advances in research and current best practice in disorders such as stuttering and stammering.

The Stammering Support Centre is the only dedicated centre in the north of England to offer specialist services for children and adults who stammer. Having an advanced practitioner as part of the team will expand on the centre’s existing wide range of skills and knowledge base. This will ensure that all patients undergoing therapy in Leeds, or across the Yorkshire and Humber region, will benefit from the best possible care in fluency disorders.

Alison said “Taking part in the European Clinical Specialization in Fluency Disorders process has been both thought provoking and has challenged my own reflective practice. As part of the programme I was fortunate to have worked alongside students from as far as China and the USA which was great in terms of listening to different perspectives.

This enabled me to develop my skills in current and evidence based approaches to the assessment and management of stammering from some of the most skilled clinicians across the world, which was such a privilege.

The best feeling is being able to bring the skills I have developed back to the UK and apply them to my work with children, young people and adults who stammer and their families.”

Some Facts about Stammering:

  • It affects around 1% of the UK population
  • It is expected that 5-8% of pre-school age children will experience a phase of non-fluent speech such as a stammer or stutter.
  • Three out of four cases in pre-school children will resolve naturally
  • One in four children’s cases will require the need of therapy to stop the stammer
  • It is estimated that one in 100 adults has a stammer
  • Males are four times more likely to have a stammer than females.

Early intervention is vital to improve the chances of a child overcoming a stammer. If parents are unsure then they should discuss with their GPs as soon as possible to get a referral to a speech and language therapist rather than hoping the stammer will go away on its own.

The Stammering Support Centre has been operational since April 2011 and is one of the few centres in the country that offers highly specialised speech and language therapy. The centre is a highly specialist centre for children, young people and adults who stammer and their families. It not only provides assessment and therapy for individuals who stammer but acts as a centre for research, training and raises public awareness of stammering both locally and nationally.


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