October 22 is International Stuttering Awareness Day – You may have probably seen ‘The King’s Speech’ – Colin Firth’s role as King George VI became a worldwide hit and drew a prodigious amount of attention towards stuttering and the painful social stigma that often surrounds the disorder.
International Stuttering Awareness Day began in 1998 as an alliance between speech-language professionals and consumers. It is designed to highlight the impact that stuttering has on the lives of many people around the world.
In an article published in the UK magazine Community Care to mark International Stuttering Awareness Day, Irina Papencheva from the Bulgarian Stuttering Association and Phil Madden from the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities demanded a fresh start in attitudes towards stammering, saying that “everyone has the responsibility to be aware, to be sensitive in our conversations and meetings” and to remember that stuttering is “not funny”. (With material from Wikipedia)
International Stuttering Awareness Day also aims to eradicate stammering stereotypes and wrong impressions of so-called ‘cures’ for this speech impediment. There is no miracle cure for it but abundant information is available and perhaps PWS can learn to thrive even while stuttering.
“Spread the Word – Education, Cooperation, Communication” is this year’s ISAD theme.
“Stuttering” is defined as a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases as well as involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the person who stutters is unable to produce sounds. The term “stuttering” is most commonly associated with involuntary sound repetition, but it also encompasses the abnormal hesitation or pausing before speech, referred to by people who stutter as blocks, and the prolongation of certain sounds, usually vowels and semi-vowels.
According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers are still studying the underlying causes of persistent stuttering. Possible causes of persistent stuttering include:
- Abnormalities in speech motor control.Some evidence indicates timing, sensory and motor coordination, are implicated.
- Stuttering tends to run in families. It appears that stuttering can result from inherited (genetic) abnormalities in the language centers of the brain.
- Medical conditions.Stuttering can sometimes result from a stroke, trauma or other brain injury.
- Mental health problems.In rare, isolated cases, emotional trauma can lead to stuttering.
For many people like us who stutter, repetition is a primary problem. The impact of stuttering on a person’s functioning and emotional state can be severe. This may include fears of having to enunciate specific vowels or consonants, fears of being caught stuttering in social situations, self-imposed isolation, anxiety, stress, shame, being a possible target of bullying, having to use word substitution and rearrange words in a sentence to hide stuttering, or a feeling of “loss of control” during speech. (With material from Wikipedia).
In 2000, the International Stuttering Association implemented the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for persons who stutter. This provides a framework for establishing a more humane, just and compassionate world for them because in our society, speech is considered one of the most important means of interpersonal communication. This Bill is written to foster attitudes and actions whereby people who stutter are provided the opportunity to realize their potentials and lead successful and productive lives. It recognizes the dual responsibility of listeners and speakers society to create a milieu in which people who stutter can develop their aspirations and talents and to advocate better understanding and to become active partners in their own future.
The Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Persons who Stutter are as listed as follows:
A person who stutters has the right to:
- Stutter or to be fluent to the extent he or she is able or choose to be
- Communicate regardless of his or her degree of stuttering
- Be treated with dignity and respect by individuals, schools, communities, groups, companies, government agencies, organizations, arts and media
- Publicly available and accurate information about stuttering
- Equal protection under the law regardless of his or her degree of stuttering
- Be informed well about therapy, programs including likelihood of success, failure or relapse
- Receive therapy appropriate for his or her unique needs, concerns and characteristics from professionals trained to treat stuttering and its related problems
- Choose and participate in therapy, to choose or not to do so or to change therapy or clinicians without prejudice or penalty
A stutterer has the responsibility to:
- Understand the listeners or conversation patterns may be uninformed about stuttering and its ramifications or that they may hold different views of stuttering
- Advise listeners or conversation partners if one needs additional time to communicate
- Participate in therapy of his or her own choice and to do so in an open, active and cooperative manner
- Overcome life challenges because of it
- Regard and treat other people who have problems, disabilities with fairness under the law with dignity and respect regardless of the nature of their conditions.
- Be conscious that he or she has the power to promote awareness about stuttering and its ramifications.
The event’s official color is sea green. People who stutter are encouraged to adorn themselves with the color sea green to integrate the traditional ‘peace’ of the colour blue and ‘liberation’ of the color green.
ISAD Founder Michael Sugarman writes: “The color ‘blue’ has traditionally been associated with calm while ‘green’ represents liberty, freedom and justice. The combination of these colors (sea green) for People who Stutter shows the bond between ‘peace’ and ‘liberation’ when finding support and community with other people who understand and share their experiences.
Honestly, I would struggle to cope with stuttering at times so I admire and respect people who stutter and those who help and support fellow stutterers.
Did you know that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had problems with stuttering? It’s quite unbelievable because s he was known for giving many inspirational speeches during his time in power. Celebrities like Hugh Grant, Tiger Woods, Bruce Willis, Carly Simon, Lady Gaga, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Nicholas Brendon, Rowan Atkinson a.k.a. Mr. Bean, Julia Roberts, Emily Blunt, Nicole Kidman, Jane Seymour, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Paul Young, Kylie Minogue, Ed Sheeran, Through the Looking Glass book author Lewis Caroll and noted biblical characters Moses and Jeremiah and many more famous people like them are all wonderful examples of the fact that a stuttering problem does not have to be a hindrance to success. A speech impediment may inhibit your ability to get a sentence out but it is no life sentence.
To all those who stutter and stammer in the Philippines and throughout the world, let us get ready to ‘Spread the Word through Education, Cooperation, Communication’. Be inspired! Be informed and be involved! Mabuhay!
www.isastutter.org International Stuttering Association.
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