Stuttering – all in the family (name)

After hearing about our study, Roger, from Hamilton, NZ, got in touch to tell us an intriguing story about his family history.

I am absolutely sure that genetics play a role with those of us who stutter.

I began to stutter at age six, my brother two years older than me (now deceased) stuttered also and did so for all of his life. My youngest son began to stutter also at the age of six. My son Grant (now 44 and living in Sydney) was able to be helped by Speech Language Therapists through his school, plus having family help at home. He has had a fluent speaking life ever since receiving treatment in his young school days and continues to be thankful to this day. The Speech and Language Therapist who helped Grant was named Shirley, and it was she who guided me to a two week intensive Smooth Speech Course at Auckland Hospital. This was back in the early 1980s. The course was extremely helpful to me back then.

Roger, with son Grant in Sydney, January 2020.
Roger, with son Grant in Sydney, January 2020

Co-founding the New Zealand Speak Easy Association

Being a support group enthusiast, saw me involved in starting up a support group in Auckland (Speak Easy), and this led through to us establishing a national Speak Easy Association, bringing together groups in Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. I became the inaugural President of the New Zealand Speak Easy Association, and I was fortunate to receive a Winston Churchill Fellowship enabling me to tour New Zealand to set up the national association.


I am five months short of turning 80 years old. Now retired and in a more relaxed lifestyle, my fluency is at the best it has been in all my years. It still trips me up at times, but not as much as it once did.


A fascinating finding in the family tree!

Back to the Genetics  —  a few years back I was given by my brother some census details and marriage certificates of our ancestors who came from the UK, near Ipswich. In this information it was like a light bulb moment when we discovered our Paternal Great Grandmother was named ESTHER STAMMERS.

These documents were dated back in the 1800s when family surnames derived from what type of job the husband had - or something else that was peculiar to certain people. So, I deduced that I have come from a line of relatives who stammered – or stuttered, as we call it in our part of the world - hence the surname STAMMERS.

The New Zealand Speak Easy Association, continues to be a community for people who stutter, with several local groups. Find out more on their website:

Participate in our genetics study to help us
better understand stuttering

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