International Stuttering Awareness Day

Stuttering. Stammering. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, it is to speak or say something, especially the first part of a word, with difficulty, for example pausing before it or repeating it several times

We have all come across someone who has difficulty speaking, stuttering their way through life. It could be a sibling, a classmate, or a colleague. And more often than not, they are bullied, made fun of, their problem is not taken seriously.

It is often chalked up to nervousness, shyness, or some kind of mental and psychological problem. This is exactly the kind of thought that needs to be changed and for this purpose, the International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) is celebrated on the 22nd of October every year globally. It was first celebrated in the UK and Ireland in 1998. The aim is to raise awareness and help people who stutter to overcome it and to better all affected parts of their life.

It is important to acknowledge that stuttering is not a weakness or a disability, which has been proven true time and time again in all fields from cinema to sports to politics. This positive outlook is the first step to celebrating and making the most of the ISAD.

Another way is to not be disgruntled by the lack of visible improvement in the stuttering of individuals, because although there are many speculations on the possible causes of stuttering, there is neither a definite answer nor a clear solution.

A person’s stutter could depend on their genetics, language development, environment, brain structure and function or a combination of two or more of the above. It might even vary day to day in intensity depending on the speaking situation of the individual.

Listen to them carefully and patiently. Do not attempt to cut into or finish their sentences, unless they give you permission. People who stutter know what they want to say, they just need a bit more time to convey it.

Schools should educate students on speech impairments and struggles from a very young age. They have to learn to empathize with their problems for them to create healthy social and work environments later on in life.

Informational advertisements should be published in newspapers and promoted on television by actors or celebrities who stutter. Social media platforms should make use of the ‘#trends’ to spread the word and to connect with people with the intention of helping and creating safe spaces for the people who stutter.

Events, campaigns and drives in social spheres are always recommended as people who interact regularly feel more comfortable opening up about their speech difficulties and they can be made to feel like they fit in too.