ISAD 2015 – Spread the Word

Meanne MijaresAbout the author:  Meanne Mijares is a professional wedding and events planner, founder and president of the Philippine National Stuttering Society (PNSS) and children’s book author, Emma Kali-kaliwete! Emma U-utal-utal! (Left Hander Emma! Stutterer Emma!) which was published in 2014 by ST PAULS Philippines. The book has been shortlisted as a Finalist and was recently awarded a certificate of recognition by the 2015 Cardinal Sin Catholic Book Awards in the Youth and Children category.

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:

  1. Stutter or to be fluent to the extent he or she is able or choose to be
  2. Communicate regardless of his or her degree of stuttering
  3. Be treated with dignity and respect by individuals, schools, communities, groups, companies, government agencies, organizations, arts and media
  4. Publicly available and accurate information about stuttering
  5. Equal protection under the law regardless of his or her degree of stuttering
  6. Be informed well about therapy, programs including likelihood of success, failure or relapse
  7. Receive therapy appropriate for his or her unique needs, concerns and characteristics from professionals trained to treat stuttering and its related problems
  8. 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:

  1. Understand the listeners or conversation patterns may be uninformed about stuttering and its ramifications or that they may hold different views of stuttering
  2. Advise listeners or conversation partners if one needs additional time to communicate
  3. Participate in therapy of his or her own choice and to do so in an open, active and cooperative manner
  4. Overcome life challenges because of it
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

References International Stuttering Association.

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ISAD 2015 – Spread the Word — 15 Comments

  1. Ms. Mijares,

    I enjoyed reading your article where you highlight International Stuttering Awareness Day. Thank you for the background information on stuttering, it was very informative. I especially liked that you posted “The Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Persons who stutter” and “The Responsibilities of a Person Who Stutters.”

    What would you say are the listener’s responsibilities when communicating or having conversations with a person who stutters?

    • Thank you Nora for reading the article.Am glad you like it. Well to answer your question people shod be patient with people who stutter do not judge them treat them with resect respect other people with differences listen to what they say do not but in when they speak they should not feel like an outcast just because they stutter

    • Thank you for ypur kind words. I believe people should be patient with people who stutter and gove them the respect they deserve. They shld make them feel welcome and not feel left out include them in their conversations because they also have something important to tell us

  2. Thank you for your informative article. I am currently studying to be a Speech-Language Pathologist, and have an interest in increasing stuttering awareness. My thesis is on educating teachers and and others in the educational system on stuttering. I find that most people do not fully understand stuttering, and what they do ‘know’ is often incorrect. I agree with you, and your wonderfully written article, that education is key.

    • Hello Krissy ? Your kind words are appreciated. Am glad you find the article informative and helpful. I wish you all rhe best in your goal to be a slp. God bless you.

  3. I found your article to be very informative and a good read for those who may have limited knowledge about stuttering. Considering the low incidence of the speech disorder, a large portion of the population may have never interacted with a person who stutters. Thanks to people like you who take the time to help spread awareness, more and more people are learning. Getting the information out there is the first step. It will then fall into the hands of those who need it (or at least that is the hope).

    • Thank you very much for your very positive response to the article. I share your hopes that it will reach more people who need it most.?

  4. Thank you for your wonderfully written article. What an important date to remember to spread awareness for people who stutter. I think about how effective social media is in our society today. Posting a message or picture to support stuttering awareness is so simple yet could be extremely effective. I think stuttering is an important disability that is looked past. Many people are unaware of the fears, anxiety, and shame it causes those who live with the disability. I like how this article brought up the fact that there is no cure for stuttering. The importance is simply awareness. If we can increase awareness, people who stutter can begin to feel comfortable in social situations, such as ordering in a restaurant or chatting at a party. If we can educate society on how to understand and help those who stutter, the world would be a little better. I am looking forward to October 22nd, to spread the word on stuttering.

    • Wow Melissa am so happy to read your comments! Am glad you fond the article inspiring. Happy ISAD 2015 to you too and to everyone all over the world Let us keep on spreading the word ??

  5. I enjoyed reading your article! I am a Speech-Language Pathology graduate student in a Fluency class and I was wondering, what advice would you give to professionals, such as SLP’s, who might have the opportunity to work with individual’s who stutter?

    • Just be patient with them. Keep on encouraging them. Respect and never give up on them.?

  6. I love your enthusiasm and passion towards this topic. I had never heard of The Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for Persons who stutter before your article. That is a beneficial tool to bring awareness to people who stutter. I think continually being aware of personal responsibilities would be very important. Happy ISAD!