What Stuttering Is
Stuttering is a lifelong communication difference characterized by involuntary interruptions in the forward flow of speech. The most telling characteristic for the speaker is a feeling of sudden loss of control. Approximately 1 percent of the population stutters. Stuttering usually begins in the preschool years. Stuttering is ancient, recorded in history for thousands of years. It occurs in all languages and cultures. The causes of stuttering have not yet been isolated but years of brain imaging studies indicate differences in brain function and structure of people who stutter. The tendency to stutter can be inherited; years of research have isolated genes involved in the cause of stuttering. On the surface, stuttering is a communication difference but below the surface, it can produce entrenched feelings of embarrassment, shame, isolation and despair. Although people can learn methods to help themselves be more fluent, the underlying cause of stuttering cannot be made to “go away.”
What Stuttering Is Not
Stuttering is not a psychological disorder; people who stutter do not stutter because they are nervous. Stuttering is not a disorder of impaired intellectual ability. People who stutter are just as smart as people who don’t. Most people who stutter will have some challenges with talking throughout their lives. This has not stopped individuals who stutter from becoming teachers and attorneys and doctors and actors and so many other professions.
Tips For Interacting With People Who Stutter By People Who Stutter:
Be patient and kind.
If I get stuck, just ignore it.
Be a good listener. What I have to say is important.
Don't tell me to "slow down" "just breathe" "think about what you want to say before you say it" or "just relax."
Please don't try and guess my thoughts. Let me say what I want to say and don't finish my sentences.
Don't mimic me or make a joke about my stuttering. No, I did not forget my name.
Seeking More Information?
Here are links to other wonderful support networks:
National Stuttering Association
Stuttering Foundation of America
The Stuttering Association for the Youth