Speech therapy to help adults who stammer has been offered via the speech therapy department in Oxfordshire at the Warneford Hospital Oxford since July 1966.
Funded initially with a two year research project, Gerda Wilson Speech therapist was appointed to this part time post. She developed an intensive two week residential course for groups of around 8 people. This project looked at how the therapy Syllable timed speech helped fluency. Referrals were country wide.
The outcomes were very positive and successful -people made good progress. The Oxforshire Health Authority created a permanent post and Gerda Wilson remained as Speech therapist there until she retired in 1998.
The courses evolved, changed and developed over the years using up to date research on techniques to help stammering. Hundreds of people have been helped to speak fluently. And over time additional Speech and language therapists have worked with the people referred gaining specialist experience and expertise and providing high quality Speech therapy.
There are now three Specialist Speech and Language Therapists experienced in helping people who stammer and working at the Apple House offering a service to both children and adults.
In 1972 a group of clients inspired by the Speech therapy they had received were allowed by the Warneford hospital where the courses were held to take over an empty old building in the hospital grounds. Formerly used as an apple store and more recently as well by pigeons this group of people restored the dilapidated building – fortunately the group included an architect. With hard work and determination the building became the therapy centre in Oxfordshire for working with people who stammer. Called The Apple House it comprises a large upstairs therapy room accessed by a spiral staircase; and there is a smaller therapy room along with an office downstairs.
Young children and teenagers were also seen at The Apple House from 1990.
A registered charity called The Stammer Trust was formed in 1973. It supports the work of the NHS appointed Speech and Language Therapy staff.
The charity sponsors specialist training (eg Lidcombe – now a significant part of the therapy approaches for young children) and also updating courses/ conferences related to stammering for the professional staff.
The charity also helps to maintain the interior décor of The Apple House and provides up to date resources and equipment for the work going on there.
The Apple House has a unique charm and is a great environment to visit and work in.
The Stammer Trust relies on membership and donations to continue this work.
There is an elected committee which meets three times a year and this includes a summer tea party and rounders match when families and clients can meet each other.