Hey there, Fearless Files!! It's International Stuttering Awareness Week!!
1% of the world's population stutters. That's 70 million people across our globe. 3 million of that population lives right here in the United States.
Let's think about those statistics for a second...
As many of you know, the #LiveFearless message was conceived out of my own experience as a person who stutters. I found that through my experience stepping outside of my comfort zone and sharing my story in front of audiences big and small, I am able to inspire everyone to fearlessly pursue their callings. I never dreamed that this simple idea of finding comfort outside of your comfort zone could grow into a non profit organization, a children's book, or even a national holiday...but here we are!
It is safe to say that while this journey has been rewarding, it is far from over. My own experience with living fearlessly as a person who stutters is still very much real and requires me to be intentional with every action and word I choose to speak. As I continue to grow and learn alongside each of you on this mission to #LiveFearless, I am actively working within the stuttering community to shine light on the nearly 70 million human beings who stutter worldwide. This year as Miss Plano, I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with organizations like The Stuttering Foundation, The International Stuttering Association, The National Stuttering Association, and more! I have even been able to collaborate with stutterers from across the globe through my mentorship program: "Dear Fearless" and am continuing to connect with/mentor stutterers on a regular basis.
As wonderful as this work has been, I am often reminded that the stigma that surrounds stuttering and the community as a whole is still present, often causing those who stutter to feel isolated or silent. This being said, I wanted to take this opportunity to share what I wish the world knew about stuttering.
Stuttering begins in childhood between ages 2 and 5 years.
Stuttering can begin gradually and develop over time, or it can appear suddenly.
Stuttering is a genetically-influenced condition: most of the time, if there is one person in a family who stutters, there will be another person in the family who also stutters.
Stuttering is associated with differences in the brain; it is not just a behavior that children learn or pick up from listening to other people who stutter.
Stuttering is more common among males than females. In adults, the male-to-female ratio is about 4 to 1; in children, it is closer to 2 to 1.
As many as 80% of young children who begin to stutter ultimately stop stuttering. Those who continue to stutter into the school-age years are likely to continue stuttering in some fashion throughout their lives.
For people who stutter, the observable disfluencies are not the most important part of the condition. Instead, it is the impact on their lives that causes the most concern. Therefore, speech therapy for stuttering should focus on more than just fluency; it should also account for the ways that stuttering affects the speakers’ life.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Stuttering is often misunderstood and as a result can cause false information to be circulated. Some common myths when it comes to discussing stuttering include statements like...
"People only stutter when they're nervous."
"People who stutter are shy and self conscious."
"People who stutter are less Intelligent or Capable."
"Stuttering is caused by emotional trauma."
"Stuttering is a habit people can break if they want to"
My work as Miss Plano within the stuttering community has been largely characterized by changing this stigma and redefining these common myths. I have been so fortunate to take part in experiences that have allowed me the opportunity to see that statements like these are in fact false. However, not every member of the stuttering community has that same chance. I encourage each of you reading this post to take a moment and reflect on these myths. Ask yourself: "Are these statements I have said/thought?" "Have I heard these statements from a family member or friend?"
If the answer is yes, take a look a these resources to see how YOU can positively impact the world's 70 million stutterers during International Stuttering Awareness Week and beyond!
HOW TO HELP/RECEIVE HELP:
Visit the National Stuttering Association's website (https://westutter.org/chapters/) to volunteer with a local stuttering support group
Donate to the National Stuttering Association
Educate yourself on important listening tips when speaking with someone who stutters HERE
As a person who stutters, I cannot begin to describe how important weeks like this are in our mission to change the stigma that surrounds our community. If you would like to learn more, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and don't forget to share this post with friends and family members! Together, let's fearlessly work to spread awareness about stuttering!