Did you know that over 70 million people worldwide stutter? That amounts to one in 100. And in the US alone, there are over 3 million people who stutter.
Stuttering will not fit into any one particular age group or time frame. Some people stutter a little while some have more, some people have stuttering over a longer time, while some stutter for a shorter duration.
It can gradually develop over the years and can appear out of the blue. There are many misconceptions and poor reputation about stuttering. But people who have stuttering can live a very healthy and wholesome life.
Read on more as we bust the 11 most popular misconceptions or myths associated with stuttering.
Stuttering Misconception #1: Anxiety and Nervousness Cause Stuttering
Absolutely not! While stressing about situations can worsen stuttering, it is not the root cause of it. Researchers are yet to find the exact reason for stuttering but have linked it to be a more neurological issue.
Telling a person to relax or calm down, may affect them negatively, and puts an increased pressure to speak normally. And children who have negative experiences with peers, grow up to have a lot of insecurities.
A little bit of encouragement and patience can go a long way in easing them into holding a good conversation.
Stuttering Misconception #2: Stuttering is Purely Psychological
If someone is genetically predisposed to stuttering, a constantly stressful environment at home and sudden changes can precipitate a stutter.
However, that is not reason enough to believe that stuttering is completely psychological.
Emotional factors are involved with stuttering, but they are not the primary causes of the disorder. Anxiety and fear of talking and social situations can develop in adolescents and adults, who have been stuttering for a prolonged period.
Stuttering Misconception #3: People who Stutter Have Low IQ
This is one of the most blatant and common myths about stuttering. There is no correlation between condition and intelligence.
Research conducted by the British Stammering Association reveals that people have the ‘same range of intelligence’ irrespective of whether they stutter or not.
They might be a little bit slow in conveying the message, but they are clear in their thoughts.
People who stutter have gone on to become writers, actors, scientists, and even politicians. Some of them are Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Love, and US President Joseph Biden.
Stuttering Misconception #4: Kids will Outgrow Stuttering
Many adults and teenagers keep believing or hoping that one day they might overcome this issue completely. That’s not always possible and gives false hope.
Usually, children between 18 months and 5 years start showing symptoms of stuttering.
Sometimes, it can even go away on its own. But, for many, the symptoms do not start until they are older (between 7 to 12), and it becomes difficult to reverse them.
Stuttering Misconception #5: Stuttering is a Result of Past Trauma
There have been instances where severe emotional and/or physical trauma has caused stuttering in a person. These could have been examples of psychogenic stuttering.
Psychogenic stuttering is rare and is typically seen in young adults or adults.
Children who stutter typically exhibit signs and symptoms of developmental stuttering.
Developmental stuttering coincides with the child's rapid learning of new language skills. Recent research shows that anomalies in brain structure and function predispose a child to stutter.
Stuttering Misconception #6: You Can ‘Catch’ Stuttering from Hearing Other People
Again, definitely not. You cannot get stuttering by imitating or spending time with a person who does. It is not the flu or fever.
This condition can be because of family dynamics, neuromuscular development, genetics, and even their environment.
If your child is imitating the stuttering by talking to a family member/friend, they will eventually be bored with it. But, if they do continue to stutter, it might be because of their genes or anomalies in their brain structure.
Stuttering Misconception #7: Bad Parenting is to Blame for Stuttering
Several people believe that stuttering is a result of emotional instability or constant fighting at the home of a child. The truth is, stuttering has its cause in the genes. And there is little parents can do to stop or alter genetic expression.
Yes, undue stress, like watching parents fight a lot, or an overly competitive household, can increase a child's stuttering, but stress can never cause a child to stutter. Stuttering is NEVER the result of bad parenting.
Stuttering Misconception #8: It’s Okay to Complete Other Person’s Sentence
This is even more hurtful than asking them to take a deep breath before talking.
Dr. Drayna quoted, “Would you tell someone walking with a brace on their leg to just walk better?”.
Similarly, you cannot complete the sentence on their behalf. This will affect them by making them shy, hide their condition, and eventually become introverts. Rather, understanding their condition can help them be open and assertive.
Stuttering Misconception #9: Labeling a Child as ‘Someone who Stutters’ May Worsen their Stutter
Stuttering cannot be made better or worse by identifying or labeling a child who stutters.
Contrary to an infamous study that says otherwise, identifying someone who stutters in their early years actually increases their chances of overcoming the shame, fear, and anxiety related to stuttering.
Talking about stuttering openly can allow the child to learn more about speech disfluency and speech disorders. It can allow them to grow as human beings and not be defined by a speech disfluency.
Stuttering Misconception #10: Stuttering is Just a Bad Habit
Stuttering is not a habit. Chewing nails or cracking knuckles are habits!
Stuttering is an involuntary speech fluency disorder that a person cannot control. Decades of research show that stuttering arises due to mutations in multiple genes that cause multiple anomalies in the speech processing and production centers of the brain.
Stuttering therapy involves weeks of intensive speech fluency techniques and speech modification strategies, along with psychological counseling.
Admonishing someone for biting their nails may work, but scolding a child or humiliating them for stuttering will only make them retreat from speaking.
Stuttering Misconception #11: PWS Always Stutter
Stuttering is not a binary condition. People who stutter (PWS) don't stutter constantly or similarly all the time.
There may be times when a person doesn't stutter at all. These may include instances like when they are talking alone, reading out loud, or talking to a pet.
Then, there are people, who have become quite the perfectionist at hiding their stutter.
They substitute words, avoid high-octane situations, and choose to remain quiet to avoid stuttering. They practice covert stuttering and they mostly pass as fluent!
Stuttering is a spectrum. Not everyone who stutters shows it at all times. However, that does not make them "fake stutterers" or fluent.
Stuttering is far more common and complex than you can imagine.
But, when handled properly, given proper speech therapy, and practice sessions, it is easily manageable and increases fluency.
Check out our Stamurai app, which is a convenient way to practice speech therapy whenever you want.