Courses for Young People who stammer


My daughter Alice and I attended the online teenager’s course earlier this year, due to Covid restrictions creating challenges for attending the course in person. Although I had worried that the course might not be so effective online, I realised immediately that my fears were unfounded. We had attended NHS therapy for years, but without any real impact to confidence or speaking and really felt a much more dynamic course of action was needed.

From the minute that Anne and David appeared on screen and from the moment Anne began to speak and demonstrate how very much she "gets" the tricks, fears, worries and challenges of stammering it was clear she knew her subject inside out. Her absolute belief and passion in the rights for those who stammer to be able to say what they want to say, when they want to say it is unsurpassed and she really sweeps you along in this wave of positivity and enthusiasm, without sugar coating the reality of having a stammer. Our support volunteer Matt was also deeply experienced, kind, and compassionate and like Anne and David, we could tell that he genuinely wanted the best possible outcome for Alice and for her to be able to join in so much more at school and out of school.

The technique takes time and the early days of trying it out were positive and challenging at the same time, but with the essential continued support and utter commitment of the Starfish family we have seen incredible results. Our daughter is happier, more confident, and now able to join in in class for the first time in a long time - the simple concepts of the technique of eye contact for instance, is so powerful in shattering many conceptions about how people are reacting to the stammer or increasing your volume to be heard.

I can't thank Anne and David enough for their genuine desire to support as many people who stammer and their support network as they can and would recommend without hesitation taking part in the course - we still keep Anne and David updated on important milestones and they are always so genuinely delighted and caring that you can tell this goes far beyond a business or standard speech therapy approach. They believe and support you every inch of the way, gently exposing any habits that need to change and empowering you to keep pushing out of your comfort zone. We look forward to supporting others joining the course in the future and would be happy to speak to anyone who would like to know more.

Kate - mother of Alice

Starfish Project Young People’s Courses – Restarting 2022

Whilst we were delighted to restart Starfish Project courses for adults in 2021, we were deeply concerned that we were not able to help the ever-growing list of young people with a course. Although the vaccine program was providing the key for the adults to attend a course, similar plans for vaccinating young people were not in place for the foreseeable future. So, we had to do something to get young people help without the risk of bringing them together on a course. Therefore, in May 2021 we launched Starfish Project Virtual courses for young people.

These were very successful, and we would have continued running them, but for the welcome news that the national vaccination programme was extended for young people 12 to 15 years old.

Our first Young People’s course will be in February 2022, all places on that course were immediately filled by young people who were awaiting a virtual course. However, we have another Young People’s course at Easter, and another planned for August 2020.

Following, the success of our 3 adult courses in 2021, which were run with strict covid safety measures for all Starfish Project Course attendees, we will be running the Young Peoples Courses in the same way.

We have taken specialist guidance, and followed the advice, to provide a safe working environment for everyone. It is mandatory for all participants (including accompanying parent) on our courses to provide proof of having received a full course of vaccination of an approved vaccine for Covid 19. In addition to this, all our Young Peoples courses will be covered by important safety measures including:

  • Daily rapid flow testing for everyone.
  • Limited numbers to maintain social distancing
  • Hand sanitising
  • Air ventilation flow in the course room
  • Everyone wears a transparent visor in the course room.

Having put all these measures in place for three highly successful courses in 2021, we know that this has created a safe environment for the course to operate in. That same safe environment will be in place on Starfish Project Young Peoples Courses.

We have a duty of care, and we take that duty very seriously.

We have received many compliments about our recent courses, here are just a couple of them –

“I was so happy to read about the safety measures you had on the course, and this was an important factor in booking a place on Starfish.”
D.W August course

“The coronavirus safety arrangements were excellent and meant I could just get on with learning how to control my stammer without worrying about anything else - thank you.”
M.R. October Course

Jack Turner on This Morning

A little time after his first Starfish course Jack Heal-Turner decided to speak about his story of stammering and finding help to control his stammer from The Starfish Project. We are so proud of Jack, the courage he showed in doing this and all he has achieved since. Please take the time to read his mum's introduction and watch this incredible piece of film.

How it all started

Following the numerous national newspaper, magazine, radio and television articles, reporting successful training in stammering control available from the Starfish Project, we were requested by a large number of parents to start courses for young people who stammer.These parents were all very concerned about the lack of speech therapy facilities, for their children, in their own home areas within the health service.

After months of discussion and planning we were proud to announce the first ever STARFISH young peoples course. We had decided early on that three important fundamentals were:

  1. A parent / guardian would be present for the whole course to learn the technique and be part of the future support system for the young person.
  2. A one-to-one technique-training situation would be vital for the course.
  3. Although we would adjust the training to include such things as more breaks, and less detailed technicality, we would not break in any way from the successful basic STARFISH technique.

We told each parent, at the initial course discussion stage, about a parent being present; all of them thought this an excellent idea and were 100% for learning the technique to back up their own child.

With regards to ensuring a one-to-one training ratio, our only problem was that so many people that had been on the course wanted to come back, giving up their own time and at their own expense and help. As one trainer said "I will do anything to help, if I can help stop one person having to go through the years of stammering that I did, it's worth everything to me".

On a Tuesday at the end of August 2001 fourteen young people 12 -16 years old, accompanied by a parent, arrived at The Boship Farm Hotel in East Sussex having travelled from as far as Guernsey, Ayr, Swansea, Exeter, and Cumbria. From such diverse backgrounds, the one thing all these young people had in common was that they stammered, and really wanted to get control over something that was controlling them. They wanted to control stammering.

The three days of the course were a joy; never before had we seen such dedication, enjoyment and true friendships forged as they all worked hard and helped each other. All of the young people gained control over their stammering and changed in those few days in attitude. Most of them didn't even realise what different people they had become as they started the long journey back home to their families. Their attending parents had seen the change and some just couldn't believe it. As one parent said "It's as if a concrete block has been taken off his shoulders".

On Friday the 31st of August those fourteen young people left, not only equipped with a technique and safety nets to control their stammer but also walking a lot taller, and sure in the knowledge that they had support free for the rest of their lives.

August 2001

Since that first course in August 2001 we have gone on to run Starfish Project Young Person's Courses every year.