Stuttering: What We Know After 60 Years 1947-2007

Jan 10, 2007, 00:00 ET from The Stuttering Foundation

    MEMPHIS, Tenn., Jan. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Cutting the tongue and stuffing
 a dishtowel in a child's mouth were two ways people treated stuttering just
 a few decades ago.
     We've come a long way since the Stuttering Foundation started
 shattering misconceptions about this mysterious disorder 60 years ago.
     Today, we know that people who stutter are just as smart as those who
 don't, that early intervention in children is the best way to prevent
 stuttering, and that there is some preliminary evidence that stuttering is
 genetic. Some have suggested that stuttering isn't a very common problem.
 However, one percent of the world's population stutters, including more
 than 3 million Americans.
     "It wasn't such a long time ago that parents were told to remain hands
 off when their child began to stutter," says Foundation President Jane
 Fraser. "We now know that early intervention with very young children
 offers the real key to prevention. This represents a huge change in
 thinking about the way we tackle the problem in 2007."
     For 60 years, the Foundation has trained clinicians and published
 authoritative books and videos for speech therapists and the general
     In the 1940s, founder Malcolm Fraser was told that stuttering was "all
 in his head." However, current research indicates that there are true
 physiological differences between those who stutter and those who don't.
     People have long suspected that stuttering ran in families, but thanks
 to recent genetic research, we now know this for a fact. Dr. Dennis Drayna
 of the NIDCD suggests that genes play a role in as many as 50% of all
 people who stutter.
     "While the Foundation's ultimate hope during the past 60 years has been
 to find a cure, its focus and energies are devoted to providing real help
 today for people of all ages," emphasizes Fraser.
     For more information and local resources for all 50 states and
 worldwide, visit the Stuttering Foundation's Web site at or call 800-992-9392.
                             Myths About Stuttering
     Myth: People who stutter are not smart.
     Reality: There is no link whatsoever between stuttering and intelligence.
     Myth: Nervousness causes stuttering.
     Reality: Nervousness does not cause stuttering. Nor should we assume
 that people who stutter are prone to be nervous, fearful, anxious, or shy.
 They have the same full range of personality traits as those who do not
     Myth: Stuttering can be "caught" through imitation or by hearing
 another person stutter.
     Reality: You can't "catch" stuttering. No one knows the exact causes of
 stuttering, but recent research indicates that family history (genetics),
 neuromuscular development, and the child's environment, including family
 dynamics, all play a role in the onset of stuttering.
     Myth: It helps to tell a person to "take a deep breath before talking,"
 or "think about what you want to say first."
     Reality: This advice only makes a person more self-conscious, making
 the stuttering worse. More helpful responses include listening patiently
 and modeling slow and clear speech yourself.
     Myth: Stress causes stuttering.
     Reality: As mentioned above, many complex factors are involved in the
 onset of stuttering. Stress is not the cause, but it can certainly
 aggravate stuttering.

SOURCE The Stuttering Foundation