Stuttering Foundation Marks 55 Years of Service - Speaking Out for Those Who Stutter

Jan 07, 2002, 00:00 ET from Stuttering Foundation

    MEMPHIS, Tenn., Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- A young child wakes up one morning
 unable to communicate. He struggles with words, stuttering out phrases he
 yesterday spoke with ease. He is embarrassed and upset. His mother is
 bewildered and frightened. Distraught, she calls the Stuttering Foundation.
     This scenario is not uncommon, says Jane Fraser, president of the
 Stuttering Foundation, the largest and oldest nonprofit organization of its
 kind. This January, the Stuttering Foundation is 55 years old.
     "More than three million people in America struggle with stuttering,"
 Fraser says. "It's a frustrating disorder. It can wound a person's soul
 because you have so much to say and it's so hard to say it."
     For those who stutter, everyday tasks can be anguishing:  talking on the
 telephone, asking for a date, surviving the teasing on the school playground.
 Fraser saw this first-hand in her father's life.
     Malcolm Fraser struggled his whole life with stuttering. In 1947, he
 founded a nonprofit organization to help others who stutter with a New Year's
 gift of $5,000 -- at the time, the price of a new house.
     Today, the Stuttering Foundation has an annual budget of $1 million and is
 engaged on every front-from education to supporting research to providing the
 most up-to-date information available. Ninety-five cents of every dollar
 donated goes directly to help those who stutter and their families, and the
 Memphis-based organization provides materials at below cost.
     Recognized internationally as an authoritative source of information on
 stuttering, the Foundation reaches millions annually through its toll-free
 hotline, 1-800-992-9392, its Web site,, and public
 awareness campaign. National conferences train speech-language pathologists in
 treatment techniques, drawing professionals from as far away as New Zealand
 and Jordan. Stuttering Foundation books, videotapes and other publications are
 sent to 63 countries and stocked by thousands of libraries. Translated into
 22 foreign languages, they have reached over 10 million people.
     Still, the Foundation's work comes down to helping each individual who
     "I think people have to know someone, or see someone, to understand the
 catastrophic effect stuttering can have. When I get on the phone with moms,
 they're panicked. I talk with them, giving them immediate ways to help their
 child," Fraser says. "We hear back from parents all the time that the initial
 phone call and materials made a significant difference."
     Stuttering is a highly misunderstood disability, and one for which is
 there is increasingly effective treatment, particularly if the problem is
 diagnosed early.
     Four years ago, then three-year-old Jack Reinhard began to stutter. "He
 just couldn't get the words out. His face tightened up and it would upset him.
 We thought he would probably outgrow it," says Leah Reinhard, Jack's mother.
     Having struggled with stuttering himself since the age of four, Jack's
 grandfather, Edwin Kaphan, 77, quickly called the Stuttering Foundation.
 "Jack's fluency was way down," Kaphan says. "I talked to Jane, and she felt
 that he had all the symptoms."
     For two years Jack went to therapy. Now, he excels in school and sports.
 He is bright, outgoing, and "he has absolutely no speech problems at all,"
 says his mother.
     Thanks to early intervention, "Jack does not even know that he was a
 stutterer," says Kaphan. "A great deal of the credit goes to the Foundation
 and Jane."
     Jane Fraser has served as president since 1981, during which time the
 Foundation's work and endowment have expanded tremendously. Professionals
 consult on publications and conferences. A small staff handles a massive
 database, 24,000 calls each year, and queries from 250-500 hits a day on the
 Web site.
     As it begins its 56th year of helping those who stutter, the Foundation is
 increasingly supporting research to discover the underlying causes of, and
 better treatment for, stuttering. New interactive technologies also hold
 promise for treatment, Fraser notes, as does expanded training for
 speech-language pathologists.
     "While the Foundation's ultimate hope is for a cure, its focus and
 energies are devoted to providing real help today for people of all ages."
 Fraser emphasized.
     Fast Facts
     -- Stuttering affects four times as many males as females.
     -- Children and adults who stutter are no more likely to have
        psychological or emotional problems.
     -- In general, the earlier the better is good advice for treatment.
     -- James Earl Jones, John Stossel, Bill Walton, Mel Tillis, Winston
        Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Nicholas Brendon -- all stuttered and went
        on to have successful lives.
     -- The Stuttering Foundation's hotline, 1-800-992-9392, answers 24,000
        calls annually, offering free information and referrals.
     -- Many people who stutter find talking on the phone daunting. The
        Foundation Web site,, receives over 100,000 hits
        per year.
     -- The Foundation publishes 24 books, 21 videotapes and 15 brochures that
        are offered at a nominal fee.
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SOURCE Stuttering Foundation