Speech disorders impact millions nationally

By Johnny Jackson


Some three million individuals, young and old, have speech disorders.

Today is International Stuttering Awareness Day, and those with the non-profit Stuttering Foundation are trying to help make the public aware of speech disorders.

"The myths are really what we're trying to debunk today," said Jane Fraser, the president of the non-profit Stuttering Foundation. "Our motivation here is to let people know about the problem, and what is the truth."

The Stuttering Foundation was started in 1947 by Fraser's father, Malcolm, a man who stuttered and dealt with the stigmas related to the disorder.

Stuttering, or stammering, is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions, prolongations, or abnormal stoppages of sounds and syllables, Fraser said, addressing the myth that people who stutter are not smart.

"There is no link whatsoever between stuttering and intelligence," she added. The negative myth, and others like it, is the reason her foundation is trying to increase awareness in communities around the world.

The Stuttering Foundation seeks to provide free online resources, services and support to those who stutter and their families. The organization also helps support research into the causes of stuttering an offers educational programs on stuttering for professionals.

"I think it's really important for parents of kids who stutter to know that there are a lot of resources out there," Fraser continued. "For adults who stutter, there is help available also."

There are four factors most likely to contribute to the development of stuttering - including genetics, child development, neurophysiology, and family dynamics.

Stuttering may occur when a combination of factors comes together and may have different causes in different people.

Speech pathology resources are available to adults and children. The Stuttering Foundation provides a free list of local resources include literature at the local library. More can be found at the non-profit's Web site, or call 1-800-992-9392.


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