October 22nd is International Stuttering Awareness Day, an annual observance to raise awareness of a disorder that’s so often misunderstood.
Stuttering is characterized by repetitions or stops/blocks in sounds and syllables while talking. A speech-language pathologist can provide a diagnosis. However, there’s still so much the medical community doesn’t know about this complex disorder.
Stuttering Awareness Day is close to my heart because my husband, Bruce and other family members on both sides have a stutter.
Below is some basic information provided by our friend and executive director for the American Institute for Stuttering , Dr. Heather Grossman.
There are many myths surrounding stuttering. Stuttering is a complex disorder that defies simplistic definitions and explanations. Many different factors contribute to its development. There is much that we do not yet know about stuttering. Here are some facts that we DO know:
Here are some general guidelines:
Convey that you are listening intently and try to keep eye contact even if the child looks away.
Allow children to complete what they want to say, even when it seems like it is taking a long time. Do not guess at what you think they are saying. Reflect back what you have heard so they know that you have understood them; then, give them an opportunity to repair the message if necessary.
Time pressure is often a problem for many children who stutter. When children who stutter feel a need to speak quickly, tension can build up in their speech muscles, thereby causing increased stuttering.
Simple suggestions such as “Slow down,” “Take a deep breath,” “Start over,” and “Think about what you are going to say,” may be well-meaning and seemingly helpful for children who stutter. Unfortunately, these suggestions can put unnecessary pressure on them and actually make it harder to speak.
You don’t want to send the message that articulate expression is superior to stuttering. Let them know that the content of their words is more important than how they deliver it through their speech.
Please react to stuttering with kindness and tact. Help spread awareness, too. Should you need more information or support, consider seeking help from the American Institute for Stuttering .