We Need to Talk About Stuttering

We Need to Talk About Stuttering

Stuttering explained by someone who stutters.

Here’s something to think about: About 1 percent of the adult population stutters. That’s about 3 million Americans, and over 60 million people who stutter across the world. In addition, 5% of people have stuttered at some point in their lives. Chances are that you, or someone you know, work with, or have passed on the street stutters. So, what exactly is stuttering?

“I remember once I was talking to one of my friends in 5th grade on our way to the computer lab. We were talking and I said, “What is your m-----iddle name?” My friend looked at me and said, “Faith.” I left that conversation feeling confused. What was that? That had not happened before. Why was it so hard to say that word? Why did my face scrunch up like that? What does she think of me now?”

According to The Stuttering Foundation, stuttering (or stammering) “is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions (li-li-like this), prolongations (lllllike this), or abnormal stoppages (no sound) of sounds and syllables.” People who stutter may also exhibit physical tension secondary behaviors (such as facial or bodily movements) in moments of stuttering. Speakers can also experience negative reactions and decreased communication with other people as a result of stuttering. The underlying causes of stuttering appear to be related to a complex relationship between genetics and the neurological system. Stuttering is three to four more times as common in males versus females, and about 60% of people who stutter have a relative who stutters. While many young children (under the age of 7) may stop stuttering, it can be a lifelong condition for those who stutter into the school-age years and beyond. As such, early intervention is important.

“I continued to have moments where my neck would tense up and I couldn’t say what I wanted to say, or I would say “d-d-d-d-dog” for “dog.” Eventually I was enrolled in speech therapy for stuttering when I was in middle and high school. The physical symptoms were improving, but I was still struggling with how I felt about the way I talked. I didn’t let it stop me from talking in class and interacting with other people, but I often left the conversations feeling defeated and shameful. It also didn’t help when other people were making hurtful comments about it.”

Stuttering is more than what you can see or hear. Some have likened stuttering to an iceberg, or perhaps a tree and its roots, where only some parts of the objects are tangible and easily perceptible. Living as a person who stutters also comes with thoughts and feelings about one’s stuttering. These thoughts and feelings can affect how and if a person chooses to interact with others and also how they feel about themselves and their capabilities. Remembering this is important, because stuttering affects those who stutter on a much deeper level than is often apparent in passing interactions.

“It was not until college when I was in class learning from other speech-language pathologists that I really began to think of stuttering as it was, rather than a controlling burden. Over the course of 4 years, I began to apply what I learned about stuttering to my own life. Now, I realize that stuttering is not as bad as what I once thought. It is just different. The way I talk is just a little different, and it is okay. Other people’s opinions are just opinions. They do not affect my life, unless my mindset allows them to. Don’t let stuttering affect lasting decisions. It’s not that powerful, unless you allow it to be.”

Personal experiences provided by Jenny Gibbs

Co-Authored by Logan Payton, Samantha Graffius, Maddison Childers

For more information on stuttering, visit the following, or contact Craig Coleman, M.A., CCC-SLP, BCS-F at craig.coleman@marshall.edu:

The Stuttering Foundation: https://www.stutteringhelp.org/

National Stuttering Association: http://westutter.org/

The Stuttering Academy: www.stutteringacademy.com

Stuttering U. Summer Program at Marshall University: www.stutteringu.com

Cover Image Credit: SI Parent

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Most Incoming Freshmen Are Only Worried About Making Friends, But I'm Worried About When To Tell My New Friends About My Disability

I shouldn't have to worry about if people are going to accept me for something I can't control.


Going to college is a big change for anyone and it's a difficult time for a lot of us. It is hard enough being an incoming freshman at a new school, let alone a freshman with a disability.

I never knew how much extra stuff I had to do in order to be able to get the accommodations I need plus all the typical college duties a student has on their plate. I had to fill out an online application to prove my disability, a learning accommodations form, an accommodations form, a Vocational Rehab form, a transportation form, plus the millions of other forms you have to fill out in order to become a student at any college.

It took three hours... It was very overwhelming. And I had to talk to a lot of people about the million forms I filled out without my parents' help.

"Welcome to adulthood," they said.

It happened in the blink of an eye. Besides all the forms, choosing roommates is harder than I thought it was going to be. It's something that most people find nerve-wracking. I have the challenge of not only trying to meet new people in an unfamiliar environment like everyone else but in hopes of being accepted by my peers because of my disability.

At what point do I tell people about my disability? Do I tell them when we are getting to know each other or when we are going to meet up? That's probably the thing I am scared the most about.

I have heard that college students are more accepting of disabilities than most high schoolers, which puts me at ease a little bit.

But people can be really cruel, no matter what age.

I am also realizing as I go through the roommate process that students are not properly informed on disabilities and how to treat others with disabilities. I shouldn't have to worry about if people are going to accept me for something I can't control. Students should be nice and accept people of all different abilities. But it's easier said than done.

Another thing, trying to find a job that will be accommodable to me has been difficult. It seems so easy for a typical college student to get a job, but not me. I have spent the last six months applying for jobs just to hear nothing back from businesses. All I want to do is earn money like everyone else to try and go to college.

That's one of the reasons I applied to Vocational Rehab is to potentially get money monthly in order to suffice a job for now or at least to keep me on my toes for a little bit.

There's that... then there is the typical college student stuff housing, dining, medical forms, transcripts, and student sport passes... It is just a lot for one 18-year-old to handle. The point is, as some of you are going through the same college process, be courteous to your classmates around you.

We are all going through something similar but others may be dealing with a little more or nervous so be kind and understanding.

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