Stuttering Treatment and Research Trust (START)

About Us

Established in 1995, START is a registered charitable trust. Alongside providing support for children who stutter and their families, the trust undertakes research and works to raise awareness of stuttering and its treatment within the community.

Our speech and language therapists have a wide range of experience in working with children and adolescents and are specialists in treating stuttering.

We provide both one-to-one treatment sessions and a range of group treatment options.

Each therapist has the relevant qualifications to practise as a member of the New Zealand Speech Language Therapists Association (NZSTA) and has attended a range of courses and workshops both in New Zealand and internationally to ensure they are up-to-date with current research and practice.

janelleirvineJanelle Irvine

Janelle has been part of the team at START since 2009 and loves working with young children and their families. She has worked as a Speech Language Therapist for various offices of the Ministry of Education – Special Education.Over her career, she has developed a special interest and experience in working with children who stutter, particularly pre-school aged children.

voon-pangVoon Pang
BSc (Speech Pathology), MNZSTA

Voon joined the START team in 2011 and has worked in a variety of settings.

He has travelled internationally to attend workshops and internships to become better equipped at helping young people who stutter and is passionate about working with school age children and teenagers.

annahearneDr Anna Hearne

Anna has been specialising in the treatment of stuttering in all ages for over 15 years. During this time, she completed a PhD at the Australian Stuttering Research Centre and worked at clinics and Universities in Australia and New Zealand.

She is a contractor for the START team and her focus is working with pre-school children and their families.

Pre-school aged children

As many as 10% of children between the ages of two and four years will start stuttering. It tends to run in families and may be triggered when a child starts to talk in sentences. Although many children will ‘grow out of stuttering’, some do not.

For these children, treatment in the preschool years is the most effective. It is vital that parents get help from a speech language therapist who specialises in stuttering to ensure they are getting the right advice. START’s initial session for under 6 years olds is FREE.

School aged children

Stuttering therapy in the school years is aimed at providing children who stutter with the right tools to ‘say what they want to say, when they want to say it’. Therapy can be either individual or in a group.

Children who stutter can be bullied or excluded by their peers so teaching them strategies for coping with this is helpful and is often more effective in a group setting. Successful treatment involves helping children to be confident and competent communicators and to limit the social impact stuttering has on their lives.

START offers a Confident Communicators Group for children aged 7-10 years old which both the child and their parent(s) attend.


Effective treatment is also available for adolescents who stutter. Stuttering can have a hugely debilitating effect on teens’ lives. Through therapy and support, teenagers who stutter can learn to speak more fluently and subsequently gain the confidence to participate more fully in family, school and community life.

Teenagers can attend individual, group sessions or both. START offers both a pre-teen course (11-13 year olds) and teen course (14-18 year olds). Meeting others who stutter is a powerful way of reducing the social isolation adolescents who stutter may experience.


START is located upstairs in a beautiful old heritage building (Nathan House) on the Blind Foundation site, off Parnell Road. Our premises have a warm, homely feel and a number of children have been known to ask where the therapists sleep!

Each of the therapy rooms has a large range of age appropriate toys.Children, particularly pre-schoolers, love coming to ‘play’ at START.

There is parking directly outside the building. You do have to come up a flight of stairs but there is space to leave buggies in the foyer at the bottom of the stairs.

You and your child will be warmly greeted by one of our staff and welcomed into our waiting area. Your child will be encouraged to play with toys (if appropriate) while you fill in some forms.

The therapist who is going to see your child will then take you and your child through to one of the clinic spaces where the therapy session will take place. Each session usually lasts for between 45 minutes to an hour. All of our therapists are experienced at working with children and making parents feel relaxed and comfortable.

We aim to make our sessions as affordable as possible. We recognise that each family has differing financial circumstances and we are happy to discuss our costs if this is an issue