International Stuttering Awareness Day
It is not uncommon for us to meet somebody who has difficulty with speech, somebody who stutters (or stammers) and finds it difficult to communicate without fumbling for words and hesitating. Some of us have poked fun at such people while some have shown empathy. But have we actually taken a moment to understand what exactly stuttering is?
Here are some of the most common myths surrounding stuttering and the reality behind them –
Stuttering is caused by nervousness: No, it’s not. People who suffer from stuttering end up becoming nervous because of the constant stares and jeers targeted at them. It’s not the other way around. Stuttering is basically a neurological and physiological condition that interferes with the production of speech.
It is a psychological problem: Again, no! It is not a ‘psychological’ problem; it is a neurological and physiological problem. It’s more like a physical condition that affects the body and it is not under the influence of the mind.
People who stutter are not intelligent: If you think so, then King George VI, Winston Churchill, Aristotle, Charles Darwin, Marilyn Monroe, Lewis Carroll, Hrithik Roshan, Julia Roberts are/were all probably dumb. But, you know that’s not true, right? They are all intelligent people with great artistic, scientific and literary skills. (Source) In fact, the 2010 award winning film The King’s Speech beautifully narrates the story of King George VI and how he overcame his stuttering difficulties.
Stuttering is a result of emotional trauma: It is very easy to jump to this conclusion but it’s not true. Stuttering is not a result of emotional trauma but does end up causing a lot of emotional and psychological stress to its victims.
People who stutter can easily overcome it: This myth is one of the root causes for lack of empathy among many of us who face people with a stuttering problem. Stutterers can definitely overcome their difficulty and master better control over their speech, but it takes a lot of hard work, therapy and determination to do that. Professional speech therapists and traditional speech exercises can help. But thinking that stuttering can be easily overcome is not fair.
Deep breathing can solve stuttering: We often suggest to a person who stutters to take a deep breath before speaking. This, instead of helping, can actually cause more anxiety and stress to the person.
October 22nd is observed as International Stuttering Awareness Day. Please take a moment this day to understand stuttering better and help raise awareness about this much ignored issue.
If you have a friend or relative who suffers from stuttering, share this inspiring video with them.