Estonia short on speech therapists with skills to help stuttering adults
Estonia could use more specially trained speech therapists to help adults who stammer, Andres Loorand, executive manager of the Estonian Stutterers Society, said.
Loorand told ERR that people who stutter should be understood and that it is not sensible to expect or demand them to speak fluidly. He said that around 1 percent of people experience stuttering, irrespective of their mother tongue.
"Interestingly enough, it is roughly the same for all languages and nationalities," Loorand offered.
The fact that 4 percent of children but just 1 percent of adults stutter means that it is possible to help people with speech impediments.
Loorand said that some children grow out of it, others need speech therapy and some will stutter also as adults. While Estonia has speech therapists, helping people who stammer requires special training not all of them have.
"There is an acute shortage of speech therapists who could help adults," he added.
The Estonian Stutterers Society has around 150 members. Andres Loorand said that its efforts are aimed at helping adults who stutter, including speech therapy evenings and raising awareness.
To mark the International Stuttering Awareness Day this Saturday, stutterers' associations of 35 countries, including Estonia, signed the Declaration of the Right to Stutter that promotes tolerance.
Stuttering is not a problem in itself, while it requires extra attention from the stutterer and listener, Loorand explained.
"It takes a great effort from a stutterer to control their speech. Listeners have to give stutterers a little more time as they might repeat syllables, make pauses or drag out sounds," he described.
Loorand said that people who stammer often limit themselves by not placing enough stock in their ability. He added that stutterers are best helped by taking the time to listen to them and not finishing words or sentences for them. They can do it.
"It just takes them a little longer," he remarked.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski
Source: ERR radio news