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  • Reema Prakash M.S., CCC-SLP

National Stuttering Awareness Week

Updated: May 13, 2023

You didn’t raise your hand in school even when you knew the answer. You avoided the cute girl/ boy in college even when you were interested in getting to know them. It’s why you defer banking if the ATM were broken rather than stand in line at the bank for personal customer service. It’s why you didn’t contribute at the last corporate meeting even though you had worked on the data all week and had all the talking points. The experience of stuttering is more than the words stuttered. It is the sum of all the negative feelings of fear, embarrassment, listener attitudes, listener reactions, escape and avoidance behaviors, and often physical tension that accompanies this and affects the Quality of Life for a person who stutters. It is National Stuttering Awareness Week and we are talking about Stuttering on the blog today!


There are so many misconceptions about stuttering. Stuttering, simply put, is a communication disorder that involves interruptions in the flow of speaking. These disruptions or dysfluencies may be accompanied by physical tension in the ‘speech’ muscles, as well as embarrassment, anxiety, and fear about speaking. Together, these symptoms can make it very difficult for people who stutter to speak, and this makes it difficult for them to communicate effectively with others. There are as many different patterns of stuttering and many different degrees of stuttering, from mild to severe.


FACTS

  1. Stuttering, also called as stammering, usually begins in childhood, between the ages of 2 and 5 years.

  2. Stuttering is more common among males than females. In adults, the male-to-female ratio is about 4 to 1; in children, it is closer to 2 to 1.

  3. Stuttering is a genetically-influenced condition. Researchers currently believe that stuttering is caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, language development, environment, as well as brain structure, and function. Working together, these factors can influence the speech of a person who stutters.

  4. Stuttering varies significantly over time: Sometimes, people will have periods in which the stuttering appears to go away, only to have it return. This variability is normal.

  5. About 8% of children have a period of stuttering sometime during their development, with most recovering completely, although about 1% of people continue to stutter for the rest of their lives. Although there is no simple cure for stuttering, people who stutter can learn to speak more easily, feel better about themselves and their speaking ability, and communicate more effectively.


MYTHS

These are just a few of the common myths that persist about stuttering. Some of these misconceptions can do tremendous harm to the morale of people of stutter. While people who stutter may be nervous because they stutter, nervousness is not the cause. People who stutter can be assertive and outspoken, and many succeed in leadership positions that require talking. The stuttering community has its share of scientists, writers, doctors and college professors. People who stutter have achieved success in every profession imaginable.


It is easy to support a person who stutters. Seek knowledge, be aware, and be an empathetic listener! A stuttering ally is a fluent person who is in solidarity with their friends and family who stutter.


How to support a person with stuttering

When you are talking with someone who is having trouble producing sounds or words smoothly, you will probably react appropriately (or not) by instinct, but if you are not sure what to do, you are not alone. The National Stuttering Association recommends the following suggestions which will help you be an empathetic listener and make the conversation comfortable for you and for the person who stutters

  • Learn from a person with stuttering

  • Listen and engage in conversation

  • Be an empathetic listener

  • Do not give advice such as: “slow down,” “take a breath,” or “relax.”

  • Maintain eye contact, listen carefully, and wait patiently until the person is finished speaking. Give them the time to say what they have to. Do not complete their sentences.

  • Have empathy, not sympathy.

  • If you see an instance of discrimination, be a voice of change

  • Please know that IT’S OKAY TO STUTTER

  • On a related note, a job interview may be the single most difficult speaking situation a person who stutters will ever encounter. Stuttering is likely to be at its worst. Therefore, the degree of stuttering at the interview should not be used to predict how the person will actually speak on the job.


Stuttering can be treated with speech therapy and has a high success rate in preschool children, oftentimes leading to a full recovery. In older children, adolescents and adults, the end goal is satisfactory management of the client’s stuttering allowing them to speak as fluently and easily as they can, while also reducing the negative feelings that manifest from living with the disorder. The best program will consider an individualized intervention approach and client-centric goals that address not only the actual dysfluencies and strategies but also the physical concomitants, feelings, and the functional impact of it all on the person who stutters.


If you or your loved one is seeking speech therapy for Stuttering or other Fluency disorders, please consult a speech-language pathologist for guidance.

At Resonate Therapy Solutions, we provide skilled speech therapy services for children and adults who stutter. Schedule a consultation with us. https://www.resonatetherapysolutions.com


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