International Stuttering Awareness Day is observed annually on October 22. Stuttering is a communication disorder in which repetitions — or abnormal stoppages of sounds and syllables — break the flow of speech. There may also be unusual facial and body movements associated with speaking. International Stuttering Awareness Day shines a helpful spotlight on stutterers and educates the public about the causes.
History of International Stuttering Awareness Day
Established in 1998, International Stuttering Awareness Day brings attention to the millions of people worldwide living with this specific communication disorder. Usually, when people refer to stuttering, they imagine the repetition of a specific word; however, stuttering comes in many other forms, including the elongation of a vowel or syllable. This condition is also variable, meaning that the severity of the stutter is inconsistent. Some days a person might only stutter a few times, while others may affect most of their interactions.
Stuttering has been around longer than people can record their conditions’ interactions. Still, a lack of understanding of the disorder resulted in years of unfair treatment. Passages in the Bible indicate that Moses spoke with a stammer. Claudius, who would later become a Roman emperor, was initially shunned and excluded from public office because people believed that stuttering was a sign of unintelligence.
In 19 century Europe, surgery was recommended for people impacted by speech disorders. Surgeons would use scissors to remove a triangular wedge from the back of the tongue and cut nerves and muscles in the neck and lips. Other surgeons practised shorting the uvula or removing the tonsils. These practices were later abandoned as patients were bleeding to death, and those who survived still had their stutters.
Though it is now understood that stuttering is a neurological disorder that can be developmental (obtained as a child) or acquired (developed as an adult due to trauma or drug abuse), there is still an air of stigma that follows those who live with it. This International Stuttering Awareness Day, take the time to learn about the 1% of humanity affected and what you can do to help others stay educated on the condition.
International Stuttering Awareness Day Timeline
In her book, “I was Winston Churchill’s Personal Secretary,” Phyllis Moir mentioned that Churchill grew up with a stutter.
Stuttering Foundation of America Founded
Malcolm Fraser founded what is now known as the Stuttering Foundation of America.
“The King’s Speech” film released
King George VI took years of speech therapy from an Australian actor to overcome his stutter and gain confidence in public speaking.
Support the troops
The British government announced the Defence Stammering Network to support troops with neurological conditions.
International Stuttering Awareness Day Faqs
Is there a cure for stuttering?
There is no natural cure for stuttering, but there are speech therapy classes for those looking for ways to manage the disorder. However, it is not 100% guaranteed that they will always work. Children will sometimes lose their stutter as they go through puberty or enter adulthood, while adults who have never stuttered through childhood may develop a stutter later in life.
Is stuttering a mental disorder?
Stuttering is a neurological speech disorder that can be obtained genetically or through trauma that affects the brain.
What is the difference between a stammer and a stutter?
Stammering and stuttering can be used interchangeably to describe the same disorder; however, it is more common to use the word “stuttering” in the U.S., while “stammering” is more often used in Britain.
How To Observe International Stuttering Awareness Day
Stutterers suffer from the social stigma that can lead to bullying in children and ostracism in adults. Through the resources provided by International Stuttering Awareness Day, individuals and families can learn more about how to support those with a stutter and decrease the stigma surrounding it.
Attend the online conference
The International Stuttering Association hosts an online event to mark International Stuttering Awareness Day each year. The public is free to participate in the online event, which focuses on a different theme every year and brings together individuals worldwide.
If you have a friend or family member who stutters, you can get involved by helping to educate those they may come into contact with. For example, the National Stuttering Association provides educational materials that parents of stutterers can use to aid teachers.
5 Myths About Stuttering
Though it may sound like a person is falling over their words, being nervous is not the leading cause of stuttering. Instead of telling people who stutter to take a deep breath, patiently wait for them to get to the end of their sentence without cutting them off.
Shyness may cause stutterers to speak less, but it is not an underlying cause of stuttering. People who stutter might be afraid of judgement, so show them they can trust you by giving them the same amount of attention you would go to those who don’t stutter.
It’s just a habit
Stuttering is a neurological condition, not a habit that can be easily broken. Though people who stutter may enrol in speech therapy classes, these classes are more to build confidence in their speech rather than promise to cure the condition.
Lack of intelligence
Lots of intelligent people have stutters. Although stuttering is linked to a specific brain area, it doesn’t affect a person’s intelligence.
While bad parenting might make a child’s stuttering worse, it is not the root cause of stuttering. However, if you believe a child is in a dangerous situation, don’t hesitate to contact the police.
Why International Stuttering Awareness Day Is Important
Stuttering is misunderstood
There are many myths surrounding stuttering and those who live with the condition. For example, contrary to what many think, it’s not caused by nervousness or shyness. International Stuttering Awareness Day educates the public about stuttering and diminishes the stigma.
It provides assistance
International Stuttering Awareness Day provides hope to people who stutter by showing them they’re not alone and providing them with resources to improve their speech. It connects individuals with research and speech pathologists.
It’s a community
The National Stuttering Association is a community of people who share their challenges and stories. Those who stutter can meet and learn from others with similar stories by attending events and workshops, often delivered through local chapters.