Spreading the word about International Stuttering Awareness Day
October 22 is International Stuttering Awareness Day. The International Stuttering Association sponsors an international conference about stuttering in honor of the day. The conference opens on October 1 and continues through October 22. This year’s conference theme is Growth through Speaking. Contributors include people who stutter, their families, and speech-language pathologists from around the world. Anyone is welcome to read the stories and comment on them by logging into the conference at http://isad.isastutter.org/
Those of us who do not stutter may think that stuttering is not a big deal. It usually presents itself as repetitions of speech sounds or silent or audible blocks at the beginning of utterances, but those who stutter face many obstacles from this disorder. Young children get teased for their speech, school-age children may not participate in classroom activities, employers may choose not to hire someone who stutters. College instructors may make initial classes unwelcoming if they insist on having students introduce themselves. For people who stutter, saying their own name can be a nightmare. People who stutter may deliberately substitute words to avoid words they stutter on, but names cannot be substituted, leading to painful moments around saying a name.
Undergraduate students in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders help raise stuttering awareness through a registered student organization (RSO), the National Stuttering Association (NSA). There are approximately 40 members in the RSO, which welcomes members from any department on campus. The RSO holds monthly meetings for members and has hosted speakers who stutter, shown movies about stuttering, and has held special events to foster community, such as a self-defense class. The NSA RSO also holds monthly support group meetings for people who stutter. The support groups have attracted both ISU students and members of the Bloomington-Normal community.