Stuttering is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects approximately 1% of the world’s population. Despite being a disability, people mistake stuttering as a mild condition.
According to Dennis Drayna, an emeritus scientist at the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and a pioneer in the field of stuttering genetics, “People who stutter have no problems with grammar, syntax, or pronunciation. I have trouble speaking at my preferred pace.”
Despite the fact that over 70 million people worldwide stutter, there are hundreds of myths and misconceptions about stuttering. In this post, we discuss the top 13 myths about stuttering.
1. Stuttering with anxiety and agitation
Anxiety, nervousness, stress, and even depression can make stuttering worse, but it doesn’t cause stuttering.
Whenever we talk to someone who stutters, they almost always mention how speaking in public makes them anxious and increases the severity of the stutter.
However, anxiety or nervousness does not cause stuttering.
Negative reactions from listeners over the years are a reason why stutterers (PWS) become anxious or nervous when speaking publicly or conversing with strangers. Yoga and other exercises can help restore confidence and serenity.
Stuttering treatment for adults always includes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or psychological counseling to help the speaker deal with negative emotions and listeners’ reactions.
2. Shyness and self-consciousness cause stuttering
Adolescents and adults who stutter grew up experiencing side effects from their audience. They know their language is fluent. These factors are enough to make them self-conscious and withdraw.
Like anxiety and tension, shyness and self-consciousness do not cause stuttering. PWS may be hesitant to voice their opinion. Mostly because of negative reactions from the audience, not shyness.
Stutterers can be assertive, opinionated, and have excellent leadership qualities. The goal of speech therapy is to help PWS overcome their doubts and build confidence.
3. Stuttering is completely psychological
Psychological disorders can affect the way a person thinks, feels, relates to others, and reacts in certain situations. Psychology refers to the problems of the mind, related functions and behaviors.
But stuttering is not just a product of the mind. Abnormal structures and consequent brain function are responsible for the precipitation of developmental stuttering in children.
Dr. Drayna’s team reverse-engineered a mouse model with a GNPTAB (gene) mutation. These rats were healthy, but voicing with irregular long pauses. Recent studies have shown that PWS may have lower amounts of astrocytes in the brain’s corpus callosum.
Stuttering is a genetic disorder. It can pass from one generation to another. It’s never completely psychological. However, stuttering can have long-term emotional effects and exacerbate depressive disorders.
4. People who stutter are less intelligent
A stutterer may have difficulty saying what he wants to say, but it is not confusing. Stuttering doesn’t make a person less or less smart.
Several major speech pathologists, scientists, politicians, actors, writers, and entrepreneurs stutter. It did not affect decision-making ability.
Stuttering is a speech disorder that affects the ability to smooth speech. It does not affect cognition, emotional intelligence, memory or learning ability.
5. Stuttering due to emotional trauma
Severe psychological trauma can sometimes lead to stuttering in adults and children. However, not all emotional or psychological trauma causes stuttering in all children or adults.
Dr. Charles Van Riper has suggested that emotional trauma can cause stuttering if the child already has a predisposition.
Subsequent studies have confirmed that emotional disorders are not the root cause of developmental stuttering in children.
6. Stuttering is a result of bad upbringing
Because stuttering is associated with several genetic mutations, it can pass from one generation to another. But it is not the result of bad upbringing.
It is entirely possible for biological children of non-stuttering parents to start stuttering at an early age. There is no way to predict whether a child will inherit and express the mutant gene, especially if the parents do not stutter.
Stuttering is not the result of poor family circumstances or poor parenting decisions. It is a disability that does not depend on a parenting style.
Yes, stress at home can make a child’s stuttering worse, but it’s not the cause.
7. Stuttering is just a bad habit
Nail biting, lip biting, stress eating, and eating junk food are all bad habits. These are all habits you can control. Starting today, you can choose not to bite your nails or replace the chips with baby carrots if you wish.
However, a person who stutters cannot “escape” from stuttering because it is not a habit. “Stuttering is not respected as a disability,” says Dr. Drayna.
It’s not a habit, and people who stutter are unable to voluntarily control their speech discrepancies.
8. Your child may get stuttering from relatives, friends, or parents who stutter.
Stuttering is not contagious and it is not an acquired trait. Children who are genetically prone to stuttering may begin to stutter as soon as they begin to speak longer and more complex sentences.
There is no way a stuttering parent, friend, or relative can influence your child and make him stutter.
Stuttering tends to be tied into families. Thus, children of stuttering parents may show signs of stuttering, or children with siblings who are stuttering. It’s not because of imitation, but because of shared genes.
9. Diet Affects Stuttering
There is no evidence that food plays any role in the onset or duration of stuttering.
Unauthorized sources and independent bloggers note that diet can affect neurotransmitters, which can affect language ability. However, there are no studies to support these claims.
Because stuttering is a hereditary neurodevelopmental disorder, it is hard to believe that diet changes or special diets can improve or worsen stuttering.
This means that your overall health will depend on what you eat, so make sure you are eating healthy.
10. A short tongue causes stuttering.
There was a time in speech pathology when scientists and doctors believed that the abnormal structure of the articulators caused stuttering. During this period, cases of people undergoing surgery to correct the tongue, palate, jaw, and larynx became very popular.
However, most of these surgeries cannot cure stuttering. Modern medicine shows that neither the size of the tongue nor the physiology of the larynx has anything to do with stuttering. Quite a few people with average-sized articulators still stutter.
11. Stutterers Always Do It
People don’t always stutter with the same intensity. You may not stutter when talking to yourself or talking to your pet or close family member.
It is almost impossible to stutter while singing.
On some days, the PWS may experience “lucky fluency”. This is a period of fluency that can last for an hour, a day, or several days.
Some people find it particularly difficult to say their name and home address. Others find it difficult to communicate with authorities. Almost everyone who stutters says that high-octane situations make stuttering worse.
12. Stuttering Has Natural Treatments
As with other genetic neurodevelopmental disorders, stuttering has no cure yet. There are no medicinal compounds known to specifically treat stuttering.
Several cultures have practices such as placing nutmeg under the tongue while speaking to reduce stuttering, but there is no evidence that these treatments work!
In Home Cure for Stammerers, George Lewis suggests a routine every PWS should follow, including eating stale bread in the morning, avoiding caffeine, and drinking a slow glass of water. There is no scientific basis for these claims.
13. It’s okay to end someone else’s sentences when you stutter.
It is never right to end someone else’s sentence, no matter how hard it is. PWS knows exactly what they want to say. As discussed earlier, stuttering is a speech disorder, not a cognitive disorder.
You can try to “help” someone by ending up trying to talk to them, but their behavior is just rude. Some people might argue that it’s worse than saying “slow”, “breathe” or “tension” to a person who doesn’t speak well.
People who stutter have difficulty speaking smoothly. So the best way anyone can help is to be patient.
Breaking free from the myth of stuttering: speech therapy and more
Despite years of research, stuttering is not well understood. There is currently no cure for stuttering, but speech therapy is helping millions of people around the world rediscover their confidence.
Traditional speech therapy and self-therapy focus on fluency shaping and stuttering correction techniques to introduce stuttering fluency. It takes time and regular practice to learn the exercises and easily incorporate them into your speech.