As International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) is approaching on October 22nd, it brings forth the perfect time to become informed about stuttering.
Stuttering is a complex communication disorder that impacts 1% of the world’s population. According to the Stuttering Foundation, 1 in 5 children stutters for at least a short period of time, and 1 in 100 adults struggle with fluency on a regular basis. The onset of stuttering can begin gradually or develop suddenly and tends to begin in childhood between the ages of 2 and 6. Stuttering involves speech patterns that become disrupted by repetitions, prolongations, or stops which are called “disfluencies”. Stuttering often involves facial and body movements, such as tics or eye blinking, that often co-occur with the effort of speaking.
Causes of Stuttering
Researchers continue to study the underlying causes of stuttering. Developmental stuttering is thought to occur due to genetic factors or brain differences. Additionally, risk factors for developmental stuttering include gender and age at onset of stuttering. However, stuttering does not only occur developmentally. Speech fluency can be disrupted following a stroke or traumatic brain injury (neurogenic stuttering). Additionally, disfluencies may appear after emotional trauma (psychogenic stuttering).
Tips for Speaking With Someone Who Stutters
When communicating with a person who stutters, it is important to keep the following tips in mind:
- Listen patiently and intently
- Do not try to finish their sentences
- Model slow and relaxed speech when communicating
- Refrain from sharing statements such as “slow down” or “take a breath”
- Give the speaker plenty of time to talk and fully express their thoughts
- Focus on what the speaker is saying, not how they are saying it
Stay Informed and Connected
There are many successful actors, singers, and leaders that manage their disfluencies and become strong advocates for the community. To observe Stuttering Awareness, one should take the time to hear directly from those who stutter to better understand their experiences and learn how to support them. You can learn more about famous people who stutter here.
Resources and support groups are not in short supply when it comes to stuttering! Be sure to stay connected to learn more.
Author: Christina Neuweiler, M.S. CCC-SLP, CDP
Speech-language Pathologist, Certified Dementia Practitioner