“So kiss me again, ‘cause only you can stop this st-st-st-st-stuttering.”
If only life were as easy as this song – fortunately there is International Stuttering Awareness Day on Oct. 22 to further educate the public about stuttering.
Stuttering is “a speech disorder in which sounds, syllables, or words are repeated or prolonged, disrupting the normal flow of speech,” according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). This can obviously make communication difficult and affect that person’s everyday life.
More children than adult stutter, but one percent of adults have been found to stutter. This condition is found more often in men, with older boys having a greater prevalence of three to four times more than girls.
Jane Fraser, the president of Stuttering Foundation of America, which was founded in 1947, said her organization tries to increase awareness of stuttering. She said she thinks the awareness day started around 15 to 20 years ago and that it developed from the National Stuttering Awareness Week, which she helped push Congress to create in 1988.
This year, she said she’s focusing on “The King’s Speech,” which is a movie coming out soon about King George VI and how he overcame his stuttering problem.
She mentioned how difficult stuttering can be for women, since women who stutter aren’t as common.
“Three to four times as many men stutter as women, but that doesn’t make it any easier if you’re a women who stutters,” Fraser said. “In fact … it makes it harder because you’re sort of the oddball. It’s unexpected.”
She said in older days women might not have had as many opportunities to go out and talk, but that is a way to improve the condition.
Although in the past people thought stuttering was caused by psychological issues, that is not usually the case anymore, according to the NIDCD.
“We know that there is no correlation between mental illness and stuttering,” Fraser said.
Genetics and neurology play a part in the cause of stuttering.
She agreed that confidence and self-esteem can be negatively impacted by stuttering.
“Just imagine tomorrow you couldn’t talk,” Fraser said.