Five common misconceptions about stuttering

As seen in The King’s Speech, when King George VI – before he became king – sought speech therapy (before seeing Lionel Logue), he was advised to fill his mouth with marbles and try to speak as a means to deal with his stuttering.

Despite the fact that stuttering is a common phenomenon among one per cent of the global population, as noted by the National Stuttering Association (NSA), much of it – including its causes and treatments – is still shrouded in mystery. “People have found stuttering confusing for centuries and, like so many mysteries, have tried to explain it with folklore,” notes information from the NSA. “For instance, some cultures used to believe that a child stuttered because his mother saw a snake during pregnancy, or because a toddler ate a grasshopper.”

Photo credit: Nina G, the world's only female stuttering stand-up comedian (or as she says, until she finds another). Check out her website at ninagcomedian.com.

Photo credit: Nina G, the world’s only female stuttering stand-up comedian (or as she says, until she finds another). Check out her website at ninagcomedian.com.

Therefore, to continue my series of blog posts dedicated to National Stuttering Awareness Week, as someone who stutters, I thought I’d share – and debunk – five common myths and misconceptions surrounding stuttering.

  1. Stuttering is a psychological disorder.

As far as we know, research has indicated that stuttering has neurological roots, according to the NSA. Don’t get me wrong though. Emotions can fuel one’s stutter, which leads me to the second myth.

  1. Stuttering is caused by stress.

Again, that is far from the truth, since stuttering isn’t a psychological issue. However, stress and emotions can exacerbate one’s stutter. For me personally, I find that my stutter is more severe than usual in stressful situations, such as job interviews or presentations.

  1. People who stutter are less intelligent or capable than others.

Wrong again!  I’ve met people who stutter who are lawyers, entrepreneurs, lecturers, writers, actors, you name it. Even the Vice-President of the United States stutters.

  1. Folks who stutter are shy.

Anyone can be shy.  I’ve met stutterers who are introverted, but I’ve also met others who are assertive and extremely outgoing. It’s the social punishment that can affect us. However, it’s a challenge that we overcome – it’s a far cry from being a shy, stressed out individual.

  1. Last but not least, people stutter because they’re struggling to think of what to say.

Allow me to clear the air on this one as well. Folks who stutter know exactly what they want to say. They simply often have trouble getting the words out of their mouth and, thus, they take a little longer to say them. However, they know what those words are.

Although The King’s Speech has opened the door to more awareness of stuttering, we need to maintain that momentum to increase understanding of what stuttering is and what it isn’t.

In order to spread awareness, Stutter Social is hosting a Google+ Hangout on Air, featuring a panel of participants from across the international stuttering community, tonight at 8:30PM EST. Anyone interested to learn more about stuttering is invited to watch the live feed on YouTube and post any questions they may have.

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