Stuttering

Twins John Paul and Kevin Cubbin are like peas in a pod, they have the same infectious grin. You could easily call one by the other’s name – and that’s what JP did for years when a childhood stutter got so bad he couldn’t say his own name.

They have the bond that so often exists between twins - sharing jokes, finishing each other’s sentences. JP’s stutter is barely noticeable. But before he sought help at 22 it blighted both their lives.

“I relied on Kev to speak for me. I got most anxious saying my own name, so if people asked I’d say my name was Kevin – then they’d ask his name!”recalls JP.

They laugh at the memory, but times have been tough. “At high school there was name calling, I got into fights, I lost my confidence. In year 8 I just stopped speaking. As I got older I’d avoid situations where I had to speak, I had panic attacks.”

Ironically both JP and Kevin chose to study drama at Hugh Baird College. Surely not the best choice for someone with a stutter? “I’d be so far into the mind set of the character I wouldn’t stutter. But it began affecting my studies - I knew I had to get help,” says JP.

When he was referred to Sefton speech and language therapy service Kev went along too. But JP knew he had to do it for himself.

Therapist Julie Cowen recalls meeting the twins: “JP was shaking, very withdrawn and reluctant to talk. The therapy is centred on what the person wants to achieve, so it’s important to set goals. JP wanted to stop relying on his brother and be able to manage studying and social situations. He wanted to not have a stutter but I reassured him no-one’s fluent all the time. We worked on breathing techniques to reduce anxiety and changing negative thoughts. I’m so proud of him, he worked hard and it’s paid off.”

The twins have just graduated in musical theatre. JP is embarking on a Masters degree at Edge Hill University to follow his love of creating theatre. I’ll always have a stutter,” he says, “but now I see it as just a part of me.”

Our specialist therapists support people registered with a South Sefton or Liverpool GP who are experiencing communication and/or swallowing difficulties and require special intervention of a Speech and Language Therapist. Find out more.