For People Who Stutter

Below you can find information which debunks incorrect myths and beliefs about stuttering, and resources are provided at the bottom.

STUTTERING MYTHS AND BELIEFS

Information originating from Peter Reitzes, M.A., CCC-SLP, and Greg Snyder, Ph.D. – “Stuttering Myths, Beliefs, and Straight Talk for Teens”  

One of the most frustrating aspects about stuttering is that it is a variable disorder. In other words, sometimes you may stutter a lot and other times you may not. Because it is so variable and complex, stuttering is often misunderstood, which leads many people to believe myths about stuttering. Below discuss some common myths and “debunks” them with credible information about stuttering.

  • I will outgrow my stuttering.

    • While 75-80% of individuals who stutter as children outgrow their stuttering, 20-25% do not. If untreated, stuttering can adversely affect a person’s life.
    • Many teenagers and adults who stutter hope or believe that they will stop stuttering one day. Unfortunately, most people who recover from stuttering do so in early childhood.
    • If you continue stuttering into your teenage years, you will most likely continue to stutter throughout adulthood.
    • For example, most people start stuttering between 2-4 years of age, so if stuttering is going to go away by itself, it usually does so by 7 or 8 years of age.
      • The good news is that there are many options and choices in managing stuttering However, continuing to avoid dealing with stuttering due to denial or a hope or belief that it might simply “go away” tends to make our problems worse, not better.
  • I am alone.

    • Many people who stutter grow up feeling alone and isolated because you may be the only person you know with a noticeable (overt) stutter. You may also be hiding your (covert) stuttering reasonably well from other people.
    • However, trying to keep your stuttering a secret from the world may be controlling every aspect of your life. Your friends, teachers, or parents may not feel comfortable talking about stuttering and you may not either. It may feel like stuttering is shameful and should be kept a secret.
    • Most experts agree that close to one percent of the world’s population stutter. This means that approximately 3 million people in the United States stutter and about 67 million people in the world stutter.
    • Finding a community of others who stutter online or in person could help your attitude towards stuttering through sharing your experiences or helpful techniques.
    • You can find a list of resources at the bottom of this page to help find a community and to feel less alone.
  • I stutter because I am a nervous person.

    • Anxiety does not cause stuttering, but anxiety could make you stutter more severely at times, such as during stressful situations like talking on the phone or speaking in front of a crowd.
    • A frustrating reality about stuttering is that when we want to stutter less, we often end up stuttering more. And when we no longer fear our stuttering, we often end up stuttering less.
  • Stuttering is my fault.

    • While the exact cause of stuttering is unknown, two things are certain: stuttering is not your fault, and stuttering is not your parents’ fault.
    • Stuttering is a biological and neurological As such, stuttering is not contagious like the common cold and is not the result of bad parenting, a stressful childhood or a traumatic event. No one chooses to stutter, and no one is to blame.
    • Currently researchers believe that stuttering is caused by a relationship between inherited/genetic traits and external conditions. If children have family members who stutter, this does increase their risk of developing stuttering, but it does not guarantee that they will develop stuttering.
  • I shouldn’t talk about stuttering.

    • Feeling shame about stuttering is normal, but talking about stuttering with the right people makes things better, not worse. You may be surprised by how many people will want to listen and will want to help. Start by talking with someone you trust such as a parent, sibling, teacher at school, or friend.
    • You can meet other people who stutter by contacting support groups like FRIENDS and the National Stuttering Association (see the resources section below). You can also ask your speech pathologist to schedule some group therapy sessions so you can work with others who stutter.
    • Reducing shame of stuttering by talking to others can improve your life in many ways, such as feeling accepted and reduced fear.
    • In a study, researchers have shown that disclosing that you stutter increases others’ perceptions of your stutter.
  • I must speak without stuttering.

    • Some people who stutter might feel that it is their obligation to their parents, family, friends or even strangers to speak without stuttering. The root of this belief is that we (people who stutter) are broken and believe we are a burden to others. And the reality is that this belief is flawed.
    • As people who stutter, we have a voice, and our voice deserves to be heard. While we may have a social obligation to communicate as effectively as we can, our listeners also have a social obligation to honor our right to freedom of speech.
      • Click here to watch a video of a poet who stutters (Erin Schick) who reinforces this message. Watch as she describes stuttering not as something to hide, but as the most honest part of her and how she knows that she is being heard.
        • “The struggle for every syllable is a reminder that I have not always had this voice.” – Erin Schick
  • I am just not trying hard enough.

    • Just as stuttering is variable, speaking strategies and tools we use to manage stuttering are also variable. Some days, no matter how hard we try, speech tools just don’t work very well. In fact, sometimes it is easier to stutter than to use speaking strategies.
    • Some people, including relatives or even some well-intentioned but misguided Speech-Language Pathologists think that because you can control stuttering some of the time, you should be able to control your stuttering all of the time. This myth is both unreasonable and is absolutely not true.
    • If someone asks or expects you to be “100 percent fluent,” feel free to reply by suggesting that they should never miss a free-throw in basketball ever again!
  • I need to hide my stuttering.

    • Have you ever raised your hand in class or walked up to the counter at a fast food restaurant and found yourself changing what you wanted to say? Have you ever stayed home sick from school or refused to answer the phone so that you wouldn’t have to talk? If you have done any of these things, you are reacting in a normal way to a very difficult situation.
    • For example, one of the authors of this brochure was asked during his freshman year of college, “Where are you from?” Rather than risk stuttering on the w in Wilmington or on the d in Delaware, the author replied, “I forget.” At the time, it felt like anything was preferable to stuttering. But the reality is that the shame of losing your self-respect is far worse than the shame of stuttering.
    • Saying what you want to say, when you want to say it is the most important thing. Stuttering is always allowed.
  • Stuttering will hold me back in life.  

    • People who stutter are as smart and capable as anyone else.
    • History is filled with exceptionally smart, talented and successful people who stutter, including politicians, scientists, actors, musicians, and other acclaimed individuals.
      • Some individuals include Winston Churchill (the Prime Minister of England during World War II), Albert Einstein (a Nobel Prize winner in physics), Charles Darwin (a scientist who documented the theory of natural selection and evolution), Bob Love (legendary star of the Chicago Bulls), Alan Rabinowitz (a famous zoologist and animal rights activist), Ed Sheeran (famous musician), and Joe Biden (past vice president).
      • Some actors who stutter or used to stutter are Marilyn Monroe, Emily Blunt, Samuel L. Jackson, and James Earl Jones.
    • “Don’t treat it as an issue. Work through it and get the treatment that you want to get, but don’t treat it as an issue. I did alright, and you can do alright as well.” -Ed Sheeran at the 2015 American Institute for Stuttering Gala
  • Stuttering is uncool, and stutterers can’t be successful.

    • Just like above, people who stutter can be very successful and cool.
      • Many cool people stutter including Bill Walton (an NBA all-star and hall of famer and NBC Sports commentator), John Melendez (announcer for the Tonight Show), Darren Sproles (a running back and return specialist for the San Diego Chargers), John Stossel (a world-renowned television reporter), Carly Simon (winner of an Oscar and Grammy award), and many more.
    • Many cool people who stutter are still being discovered (and can include you!).
      • Taro Alexander is the founder and artistic director of the Our Time Theatre Company and Camp Our Time, an artistic home for people who stutter (more info below in resources). Taro is an actor who has been in STOMP and Law and Order.
      • Eric Jackson is a guitar player in three New York City bands, founder of a self-help group for people who stutter in Brooklyn, co-host of the StutterTalk podcast and is studying to be a speech pathologist (http://stuttertalk.com/).
      • Caryn Herring has been featured on MTV’s True Life series talking about stuttering and is studying to become a speech pathologist.

Resources

Supportive Groups – A great place to meet and learn from your peers who stutter.

  • The Stuttering Foundation of America (SFA)
    • A non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources to those who stutter, their families, and those whose lives are affected by stuttering.
    • Contact: 800-922-9293,  stutteringhelp.org.
  • The National Stuttering Association (NSA)
    • A self-help organization for adults, teens and children who stutter, families and professionals with local chapters across the United States.
    • Contact: 800-937-8888, nsastutter.orginfo@westutter.org.
  • SAY: The Stuttering Association of the Young
    • A national non-profit organization, which through summer camp, speech therapy, and creative expression empowers, educates, and supports young people who stutter and the world that surrounds them.
    • http://www.say.org/
  • FRIENDS: The National Association of Young People Who Stutter
  • The Our Time Theatre Company and Camp Our Time

Films, DVDs, Videos, Podcasts, Online Resources, and eBooks – A great way to view, hear and learn from other people who stutter.

  • The Way We Talk 
    • Acclaimed documentary about stuttering.
    • You can go to the page here to watch the trailer, and there are options available to rent/buy the movie online.
  • Do You Stutter: A Guide for Teens (book; code 0021)
    • Solid and supportive information for teenagers who stutter. Available at stutteringhelp.org.
  • Self-Therapy for the Stutterer (book; code 0012)
    • A classic written for teens and adults who stutter. Available at stutteringhelp.orgas an eBook or for purchase.
  • If You Stutter: Advice for Adults
    • Available for viewing or purchase through the Stuttering Foundation at stutteringhelp.org.
  • Transcending Stuttering: The Inside Story (for mature teens and adults)
  •  StutterTalk
  • Stutter Social
  • The Mighty 

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