This year’s theme is “Let’s free our voices, speak up, and show our stutter.”
Did you know that it is estimated that 1% of the world’s population stutters? That means that there are about 3 million people in the United States who stutter. Some famous people you might recognize who stutter include Winston Churchill, President Joe Biden, James Earl Jones, John Stossel, Marilyn Monroe, Emily Blunt, Hugh Grant, Steve Harvey, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicole Kidman, Rosie Perez, Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis, Bo Jackson, John Lee Hooker, Carly Simon, Elvis Presley….just to name a few. Stuttering seems to be 3-4 times more common in men than women.
ISAD was started in 1998 by Michael Sugarman from Oakland, California. The intention of this day is to create connections between Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) and consumers as they learn from each other, give support, and educate one another along with the general public on the impact that stuttering has on individuals’ lives. Stuttering is defined as a difference in speech pattern involving disruptions or disfluencies in a person’s speech. An individual who stutters knows exactly what they want to say, but they have trouble producing the normal flow of speech. People who stutter might experience repetitions (D-d-d-dog), prolongations (Mmmmmmmmmilk), blocks (an absence of sound), or they can experience some combination of these. The severity of stuttering can vary widely among people.
There is no identified “cause” of stuttering. But most researchers now consider stuttering to involve differences in brain activity that interfere with the production of speech, meaning it is a neurological and physiological condition. However, some people can experience an increase of symptoms when triggered by an emotional or situational factor.
There is not one specific cure for stuttering. However, many people benefit from various forms of speech therapy and access resources available through the National Stuttering Association.
Controlling stuttering is a long-term journey which begins with acceptance of one’s stuttering. If you or someone you know stutters and wants support, you start by exploring The Stuttering Foundation.
I personally have benefited from working with a peer who stutters. I witnessed how he gracefully explained what stuttering is to teens in the program we worked at, and how he normalized that we all have things that are challenging for us. I am thankful to him for teaching me a deeper level of humility through vulnerability…and I will never forget that winter expedition!