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AT5: More stutterers due to corona pandemic: "Two and a half times more"


With the corona pandemic, stutterers have been hit hard and the problem seems to have grown. At the Del Ferro Institute in South, they are noticing an increase in the demand for help.

During World Stuttering Day, the institute opens its doors to help children struggling with stuttering. Applications skyrocketed in the late 2020s, and director Ingrid del Ferro watched in amazement. “The numbers showed that the number of applications became two and a half times more,” she recalls. “We did research on how that came about. People couldn’t live with it anymore, because the whole dynamic of working online and being taught online is very annoying for if you stutter. The hyperfocus is really put on your speech.”

The training at the institute now also focuses on ways to cope with an online environment. Although at first it is mainly helped with speaking without a stutter. Teacher Patrick Wijdenes stands in front of a group of six children. He himself was in the chair of his students 37 years ago, but got rid of his stuttering at Del Ferro, making him a true expert by experience. “They come in here with a stuttering problem and that means they have a problem using the diaphragm properly,” he explains. “It’s more or less my job to teach people the technique of getting the muscle to make the right movement.”

“The stories they come up with, the harassment some have experienced. Some are excluded and have no friends.”

Patrick’s students have been practicing the techniques all week, and after a few days they manage to speak without stuttering. The 11-year-old Lily beams, “I really like it.”

And the fact that the teacher succeeds in helping the children improve their speech brings many feelings. “It still gets emotional, because you see in all those little ones the misery they bring with them because of the stuttering,” Patrick says. “The stories they come up with, the bullying some have experienced. Some are excluded and have no friends.

“But with the help of the training, the children slowly crawl out of their shells, and he still enjoys that. “Then it turns out that the stuttering has stopped the child from speaking,” the instructor says. “The child comes here, gets the fun back in speaking and you see a completely different child emerge.”

The smiling faces during the training show how much of a burden slides off the shoulders of the children who attend. “I’m very proud of everyone,” 10-year-old Rana expresses fluently.