Stuttering is an often-misunderstood communication disorder that can cause interruptions in a person’s speech that they can’t always control. It is caused by differences in the way the brain processes speech, but those differences do not have any impact on their intelligence or mental health. Stuttering is also extremely unpredictable, and can change from day to day (or even seem to “disappear” at times).
It’s important to keep in mind that the experience of stuttering is different for each person. So stuttering might not be “hard” at all for some people, or in some situations. But many people who stutter have at least sometimes been frustrated with becoming “stuck” on a word while speaking. These moments can be a physical struggle or require a lot of concentration, even if the person is using a strategy learned in speech therapy. Stuttering can also be a big social challenge, especially for children who worry that they will be judged or teased for speaking differently. As anyone who dislikes public speaking knows that overcoming social fears can be extremely difficult!
There are many public misconceptions and negative stereotypes about stuttering, and this can result in people who stutter being treated differently – just because of the way that they speak. This can lead to feelings of deep-rooted embarrassment or shame, even though stuttering is nobody’s fault. So for example, kids who stutter might sometimes stay quiet in class even when they know the answer to a question, or might pretend that they don’t stutter and avoid saying words they might stutter on (even things like their own name!). The reality is, stuttering can be a lifelong condition with no cure, and learning to cope with this and accept yourself can take a lot of work (and a lot of support from others)!
Learn more about stuttering at SAY.org.