Reduce the stigma of people who stutter | MSU Today

J. Scott Yaruss is a teacher in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. He is a practicing speech-language pathologist with over 25 years of clinical experience and a certified fluency specialist.

Brigitte Walsh is a certified speech-language pathologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. She runs the Speech Development Laboratory in the Communication Arts and Sciences building.

J. Scott Yaruss

Imagine having trouble ordering your morning coffee, answering the phone, talking to your friends, and even saying your name. This is the reality faced by the more than 70 million people worldwide who live with stuttering.

Stuttering is a condition in which people have difficulty producing smooth sounds and words, resulting in times when they know what they want to say but are, at the moment, unable to say it.

While these speech disturbances are easily observed by others, the condition of stuttering actually involves much more: People who stutter have to deal with negative judgments from others every day as they struggle to be understood. Children who stutter are frequently bullied at school and adults face discrimination in the workplace. The result is that many people who stutter experience significant challenges in their lives, far beyond having difficulty producing speech spontaneously and effortlessly.

Brigitte Walsh

Brigitte Walsh

Due to social stigma and common misconceptions, many people who stutter try to hide their stuttering from others. They can avoid using words that are more difficult to pronounce; they can choose jobs that do not require them to speak; and, in many situations, they may simply choose not to speak at all, fearing how others will react to the fact that their speech sounds different.

This is why October 22 is such an important day. International Stuttering Awareness Day, or ISAD, provides an opportunity for people who stutter, their families, and speech-language pathologists, or speech-language pathologists, who specialize in stuttering, to talk about this unique communication difference in order to help others. understand what stuttering is. and what it is not.

Each year at ISAD, organizations around the world host workshops and community events focused on creating a world in which people are more accepting of those who have difficulty speaking. ISAD’s goal is to shatter stereotypes by revealing truths about stuttering to counter the many myths surrounding the disease.

Indeed, research has uncovered many important facts about stuttering, including the fact that stuttering is due to genetic influences and neurological differences, not “nervousness” or anxiety. Research has also shown the true impact of stuttering on people’s lives and has highlighted ways to minimize these negative consequences with the right therapy and support.

Professors in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders here at MSU play an important role in this research. Dr Walsh is leading a vital National Institutes of Health-funded study to answer one of the trickiest questions facing speech-language pathologists: determining which children are at risk for developing chronic stuttering and therefore need treatment the most. . Likewise, Dr Yaruss is leading an NIH-funded project examining the well-known but little-studied phenomenon of variability in stuttering – that is, people stutter more in some situations and less in others. .

With our students and colleagues around the world, we join with the international community to work towards the ultimate goals of International Stuttering Awareness Day – improving the lives of people who stutter and creating a world in which stuttering is no longer. stigmatized.

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