Thursday 22 October is international stuttering awareness day: a day aimed at de-stigmatising stuttering.
As many as one in 100 hundred people (one per cent of the population) have a stutter. Yet, for decades stuttering has been regarded as a terrible affliction, something shameful, or an indication of unintelligence. Unfortunately, many of these stigmas remain in today’s society despite their complete lack of truth. By talking more openly about stuttering, we can present the facts, eliminate the myths and reduce the shame felt by those who stutter: because there should be no shame in having a stutter.
What is stuttering?
Stuttering is a common speech disorder with many variations. It is characterised as a neurological condition that disrupts the fluency of speech. Stuttering is generally characterised by the repetition of a sound, syllable or word, such as b b b “but”, or prolonged sounds: ssssssssss “said”. It can also be characterised by periods of silence, where the speaker feels like their tongue is immobile when trying to speak.
Can stuttering be cured?
Experts don’t know exactly what causes a stutter; however, genetics are thought to play a role. While there is no cure for stuttering, and a childhood stutter can unexpectedly reoccur in adult life, treatment programs exist to help people improve their speech fluency.
Do people stutter because they are nervous, shy, or less intelligent?
Absolutely not. While people who stutter may be nervous or shy about their speech, this is not the root cause of their stutter. Instead, it’s an effect of stuttering and people’s reaction to their stutter.
Many very intelligent and successful people have had stutters, including scientists, writers, professors, actors and musicians. Examples of well-known people with speech fluency disorders include Ed Sheeran, Marilyn Monroe, King George VI, Emily Blunt, Lewis Carrol and more.
Does stuttering impact a child’s language and communication skills?
Long-term research conducted by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne has indicated that the early communication skills of children who stutter, as a group, are developmentally appropriate. And, they also found that stuttering does not appear to have a negative impact on language development in preschool years.
While this is good news for children who stutter, and their concerned parents, professional support from a qualified speech therapist is still advised. Why? Because evidence proves that early management of stuttering yields the best results.
What if my or my child’s stutter isn’t very bad?
Stutters come in many variations and can come and go throughout a person’s life. It’s important that no matter the severity of the stutter, a person with speech fluency issues should be given the skills they need to manage, treat or improve their stutter.
Do speech therapist at Box Hill help with stutters?
Yes, Vince Borg and Rochelle Vizelman are both qualified to help children, teenagers, young adults or adults with their stutter. We will also have two new speech pathologists join our clinic in January who will also specialise in stuttering therapy.
To make an appointment at Box Hill Speech Pathology Clinic, phone (03) 9899 5494 or book online at www.speech-therapy.com.au