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 huge social challenge, especially for children who worry that they will be judged or teased for speaking differently. As anyone who hates public speaking knows, overcoming social fears can be very 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 public stigma can lead to feelings of deep-rooted embarrassment or shame, even though stuttering is nobody’s fault. So for example, kids who stutter sometimes might stay quiet in class even when they know the answer to a question, or they 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 is usually 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 form others)!
Learn more about SAY and the SAY approach to stuttering here.