National Stuttering Awareness Week: May 13-19

In 1988, an act of Congress established National Stuttering Awareness Week. This year, the observance runs from May 13-19, and is geared towards getting the 70 million people worldwide who stutter to “speak out, fluently or not” and to help spread more information about the communication disorder. In the US, about three million people are affected; many have struggled with the disorder since childhood, when it often first develops.

May Stuttering Awareness Week Stat - IG-01

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October 22: International Stuttering Awareness Day

More than three million people in the United States share the common experience of stuttering, a condition that disrupts the production of speech sounds (also known as “disfluencies”), according to the National Stuttering Association (NSA). Oftentimes developed during childhood, stuttering now affects more than 70 million people worldwide. Since 1998, October 22 has been regarded as “International Stuttering Awareness Day,” an opportunity for organizations such as NSA and the Stuttering Foundation to advocate for greater awareness around the stigmas and scientific progress that surround the fluency disorder.

In August, we published a news story, “Seeking Clues to Stuttering Deep Within the Brain,” which highlights the latest breakthroughs scientists have made with the help of neuroimaging technology. In the article, neuroscientist Soo-Eun Chang says:

Because very little was known about this complex disorder, there were wild theories…[Nowadays] there’s consensus among many researchers that stuttering is a neurodevelopmental disorder, not a psychiatric or emotional issue. With neuroimaging, we’ve just begun to find subtle differences in brain structure and function in those who stutter.

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New Cerebrum Article: “Using Brain Imaging to Unravel the Mysteries of Stuttering”

In the film The King’s Speech, King George VI’s stuttering is presented as stemming from a traumatic childhood, including a bullying older sibling, an unkind father, and an abusive caretaker.

We now know that this view is scientifically unsound. Researchers like Soo-Eun Chang, of Michigan State University, have successfully used imaging techniques to pinpoint areas of the brain involved in stuttering in adults, and are now looking into children who stutter—and children who have naturally recovered from stuttering, as occurs in up to 80 percent of cases.

To find out what research indicates so far, check out Dr. Chang’s article for Cerebrum, "Using Brain Imaging to Unravel the Mysteries of Stuttering." In it, she describes recent findings that support the idea that early intervention can alter or normalize brain function before stuttering-induced changes become hardwired.

–Johanna Goldberg

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