Therapy centre opens to help children who stammer

CHILDREN who stammer are to receive treatment under a sponsorship scheme at Britain's first specialist centre, which opened yesterday.

The 'Sponsor a child for therapy' scheme asks for donations ranging from pounds 25 for an hour-long one-to-one session, up to pounds 500 for a two-week course for a child and parents. It costs pounds 120 for the assessment of a child with their parents, and pounds 135 for six therapy sessions.

The actor Michael Palin has lent his name to the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children in London because, he said yesterday, his father had a severe stammer; it was on him that the character he played in the film A Fish Called Wanda was based. He appealed for sponsors to give the 'gift of fluent speech which we all take for granted'.

Each week, therapists at the centre will see five new children from all over Britain, as well as treating at least 30 children regularly. Already there is a long waiting list. About 1 per cent of the population stammers and up to 5 per cent of children will stammer at some stage. There is no single cause of stammering; psychological problems, breathing disorders and anatomical abnormalities have all been implicated.

Travers Reid, chairman of the Association for Research into Stammering in Childhood, which founded the centre, said stammering 'destroys confidence, conceals intelligence, and can shadow the sufferer's career and emotional relationships . . . they become isolated and their abilities are underestimated'.

The Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children, Finsbury Health Centre, Pine Street, London EC1R OJH.

(Photograph omitted)

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