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  • Lori Melnitsky

Is Stuttering a Disability?

Is Stuttering a Disability?

Stuttering is legally identified as a speech disability in many countries around the world. But is it really? When the flow of speech is interrupted by involuntary repetitions, silent pauses, and prolongations, you may be classified as having concerns with stuttering. Even as adults, most people struggle to find resolutions to stop stuttering. It’s important to identify stuttering early to minimize developing social anxiety and negative attitudes toward communication. It is estimated that about 1% of the adult population gets diagnosed with this speech disorder. In the US alone, there are approximately three million people who have concerns with stuttering and occurs mostly amongst males versus females.

Neurogenic and Psychogenic stuttering is mostly found in adults. While Neurogenic stuttering is caused due to strokes or head injury, Psychogenic stuttering can be an aftermath of extreme psychological stress.

Is disability the right word?

As per the Americans With Disabilities Act, and amendments, stuttering is considered to be a disability. Stuttering in adults and children alike affects one’s ability to communicate and hence impacting conversations, which is considered to be a major life activity. Despite the act, there have been several objections in describing stuttering as a disability. Some of the key arguments are:

  1. The usage of the word in itself has a negative impact on those affected and most adults who stutter don’t consider themselves as disabled.

  2. Being labeled disabled creates a victim mentality

Even with the employment of people with a stutter, we often notice discrimination. Looking good and sounding right are two key components of job advertisements in the era. Potential employers reject such candidates despite their ability and talent to avoid a negative impact on team dynamics.

How to stop stuttering as an adult?

Start by consulting a speech-language pathologist. He/she may further scrutinize your speech disorder by understanding your health history and rule out an underlying health condition. They’ll also probe further to understand how stuttering affects you and the impact it has had on your personal and professional life. After an effective comprehensive evaluation, the best treatment approaches are recommended to help stop stuttering. From speech therapy to electronic devices, treatments are recommended on the basis of your diagnosis and understanding of your underlying issues that have led to stuttering. There are possibly no drugs that have been proved to help with stuttering. It can only be improved by therapeutic treatment approaches advised by experts. These treatments may not fully rectify your disorder, instead of improving speech fluency drastically.

Tips to stop stuttering

Recovery from stuttering is all about practicing and embracing your speech. Having a network of supportive friends and family is equally important to balance your efforts for improvement. Despite therapeutic treatments, you may find some of the below tips useful to help stop stuttering:

  1. Practice connecting words as it can help reduce stress

  2. Work on mindfulness and improved emotional control.

  3. Meditation has been found highly beneficial among adults who stammer.

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