What does a donation to our charity do?

If you’ve ever thought about donating to a charity or a cause, it’s likely you’ve also then wondered about where that money goes. This is a pretty fair question – you’ve worked hard for your money and you want to know that you’re making it go as far as it can.

For many charities, it’s difficult to track where the money goes or how it’s used – and in some unfortunate cases, donations go towards things the donor didn’t want.

We’re proud to say this isn’t how we work at START

As a registered charity, we rely on grants, funding, and donations to help us run, and we are fully transparent about where that money goes.

After operational costs such as rent, salaries, and other important factors, the money we receive goes towards making sure every person in New Zealand who stutters is able to access treatment. While we do have a $60/$45 fee for our sessions, we have a subsidy plan and sliding scale in place as an option for those who find the cost difficult.

The truth is, even though $60/$45 sounds like a lot, to truly cover our costs we would need to charge at least $100 per session. This is something we don’t want to do!

It is so important to us that every Kiwi who stutters has access to the treatment they need, and cost should not be a barrier to receiving support. In fact, we would really like to be in the position one day where we can offer our services for free to everyone.

To get to that point however, we need more support, and donating to our charity is a great way to help us achieve this goal. It costs approximately $1,000 for a preschool child to receive treatment for their stuttering, and if you were to donate even a portion of that, you would be making a massive difference in that child’s life – for their whole life.

Your donation could make a real difference in the lives of Kiwis who stutter, and it would make sure that your hard earned money goes as far as shaping a child’s entire life.

To make a donation today, head to our givealittle page and make a difference.

It’s not all about individual therapy

Why we run groups and courses in conjunction with treatment

Over the years we’ve stopped and started our groups and courses while we worked to find the best fit for our clients, but for the past 5 years we’ve really found our feet in terms of what works best. As someone who stutters, or a parent of a child who stutters, you might wonder why we recommend groups and courses in conjunction or even instead of individual therapy – and which option is best for your circumstances.

The groups and courses we run cover a wide range of topics and age groups and include:

Confident Communicators Group

  • Suitable for children aged 7-10
  • Includes 4 sessions over the course of the year
  • Is a fantastic opportunity for kids to meet others in their age group who also stutter and to make lifelong friends
  • An enjoyable way for children to explore their stutter and how it affects them

Fluency and Confidence Course

  • Suitable for children  aged 11-13
  • Is a 3 day course
  • Provides techniques to manage stuttering
  • Is a fantastic opportunity for kids to meet others in their age group who also stutter and to make lifelong friends

Intensive Fluency Course

  • We hold separate courses for teens and adults
  • Run as a 5 day intensive course
  • Provides techniques to manage stuttering and improve confidence
  • Offers the opportunity to meet others who stutter in a supportive environment

As you can see, there’s a wide variety for everyone, and while the main theme of each is to improve confidence as well as understand speech techniques to manage stuttering, what we’ve found is most valuable with these groups and courses is the social aspect.

Studies, as well as our own observations, have shown that stuttering can be a deeply isolating experience, and that the opportunity to have supportive and relatable interactions can be hugely beneficial for a person who stutters.

The groups and courses offer the opportunity for the person who stutters to be able to meet others like them, and understand their own experiences a bit better. Finding someone who relates to you and who you relate to in return is an invaluable experience for anyone, and this is no different for someone who stutters.

We also run social days for our younger clients, and a mentoring programme for adults looking for a supportive learning relationship with a peer. If you or someone you know could benefit from the social and supportive aspects of our groups and courses, please get in contact with us and we would love to help.

Stuttering in the School Playground

Why you might see a change in your child’s stutter as school begins again

Oftentimes changes in routine can be a trigger for children who stutter, as stress is likely to bring about communication difficulties for everyone. According to Anthony J. Caruso et al in the 1994 study Adults Who Stutter “A study found that under stress, non-stutterers went
from 0% to 4% dysfluencies, for the simple task of saying colors. Stutterers went from 1% to 9%”
 – this makes a lot of sense, as when we’re stressed we often speak with far more energy and urgency.

While we often look back at our school years spent in the playground and imagine how carefree and fun it was, we also forget that socialising with so many different people can often be stressful. There are a lot of factors to consider, and it’s highly likely your kid might find the playground at least a minor stressor.

The school playground is also exciting. It’s fun, there’s a lot to do, and kids often want to talk to as many people as they can and do as many activities as they can before lunchtime is up – all this energy and urgency may often trigger an increase in stuttering as well.

While this isn’t any reason for major concern, the excitement and change in schedule after a long holiday period can mark a change in stuttering.  If this happens, try and ensure your child is continuing to practice the techniques they have learned during their speech therapy sessions, and remind yourself that an increase or decrease in your child’s stutter after a significant change in their schedule is to be expected. For some people it can go the other way, and their stutter can increase during the holiday period, and decrease during school time, as the strict schedule can be helpful to them.

Regardless of whether your child experiences an increase in their stuttering, an educated and supportive school can be a major helping factor. If your child goes to school and you would like the school to access more support and information, please let them know we are here to help, or point them in the direction of our ‘For Teachers’ page. Socialising with other kids who stutter can also be extremely helpful, and create a lasting support network – we often run social days so please contact us to find out when our next one is. Our email is support@start.org.nz

Community is key

Although stuttering affects only 1% of the population, that still means nearly 15,000 people in Auckland alone have a stutter. Nevertheless, many of the people we work with tell us they have never met anyone else who stutters.

What we’ve noticed from many of our youth events in particular, is that one of the most successful aspects of a community or group event is that people who stutter can meet other people just like them. Meeting someone who can relate to you has a massively positive effect for stutterers, and can be the start of lifelong, supportive friendships.

A supportive community doesn’t have to be one that also stutters however, and it’s important that friends, family, and colleagues of a person who stutters understand what stuttering is, and how they can be supportive.

People who stutter needn’t be coddled or handheld, they are often confident and expressive people with many great opinions just like everyone else – but a negative or unsupportive community can be a huge hindrance.

If you are someone who stutters and you’ve found that people around you:

  • Talk over you
  • Finish your sentences
  • Make you feel a sense of urgency, like you need to hurry your speech
  • Or generally don’t make you feel comfortable talking

There is a chance they may not know how to handle a situation with ease. If they care about you, they will be eager to know what it is they are doing that is unhelpful, and what they can do to help – so let them know.

Only through educating as many people as we can about stuttering can we really create a world that is supportive and understands what stuttering is and how they can help.

Don’t be afraid to correct people, and tell them how you feel, so that you can find a community of people that supports you.

Why mental health should be a focus for people who stutter

Mental health is an important issue for everyone, and something everyone should be actively working to improve and look after for themselves – but it’s even more important for those who have disorders that may cause certain emotions and have various negative effects on their self-esteem or outlook.

Today kicks of Mental Health Awareness Week, and to do our bit for the New Zealand community, we’ll be looking at why people who stutter can often have mental health issues, as well as advice for how to combat this.

Here at START we firmly believe that those who stutter can be just as confident and outgoing as those who don’t, and we’ve seen many wonderful clients who have gone on to have amazing careers in the spotlight, whether that be on the stage, in debates, or as strong speakers in their industry. Stuttering is a disorder that stems from the neural processing area of the brain that controls speech – it has no effect on a person’s intelligence.

Nevertheless, for many people who stutter it can feel daunting to speak, and many social scenarios are made difficult – and this can have an adverse effect on mental health. Anxiety is a common issue for people who stutter, who may find speaking causes anxiety and stress, which can often exacerbate into wider issues. Anxiety and depression often follow each other, and when either goes unchecked things can become serious.

For people who stutter, and the people who know them, it’s important to foster an environment that encourages personal expression and communication. If you know someone who stutters it’s important you don’t speak over them, try to finish their sentences for them, or generally appear hurried for them to finish what they are saying. Actions such as these can worsen anxiety and make communicating an unpleasant experience for the person who stutters.

If you yourself stutter, let people know about resources they can look into that will help them understand better. Sharing this blog post on Facebook is a great start, and bringing it up in conversation can help people who care about you to understand what is appropriate and helpful.

It’s also important to look after yourself, and pay attention to how you’re feeling. If you are starting to feel anxious – which comes in many forms, but can manifest in shaking hands, tight chest, fast heartbeat, uncommon breathing, or fidgetiness and a lack of concentration – then it’s important to speak to your speech language therapist or your GP about how you can combat this. Seeking help can be daunting, but anxiety often goes hand in hand with stuttering so it should be looked after as well. As anxiety can often lead to depression it’s important to take necessary steps to look after yourself.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and if you need anyone to speak to then please don’t hesitate to call the following hotlines, or look into the following websites:

Lifeline0800 543 354

Youthline0800 376 633

Samaritans0800 726 666