Folk Myths About Stuttering

Hooper (ASHA, 38(1), 43-45, 1996) reminds clinicians of the importance of identifying and understanding the client's belief system as they relate to the condition being treated. Although the article is about older adults, the same underlying philosophy is important when working with person from other cultures. In his text, Stuttering Intervention: a collaborative journey to fluency freedom, Shapiro reminds the reader of the need for cultural sensitivity as it relates to views about etiology. Summarizing Leith's work, Shapiro states (p. 174) "If a family views stuttering as a curse or a God-given condition, treatment will need to account for such beliefs. Otherwise, clinicians inadvertently could challenge clients to decide between clinician's advice and personal beliefs."

The following is a section of "folk myths" related to the origin or treatment of stuttering. They are gleaned from various places and your submissions are also welcome. I found three of the references personally very interesting. My mother always told my brother to stop tickling me because it would make me stutter. My great-grandfather's brother had some sort of disability (nobody remembers for sure, but it may have been cerebral palsy) supposedly because his mother was gardening and a snake scared her by wrapping itself around her foot when she was pregnant. And in 1988 I attended a parent conference where one person volunteered that she had heard they way to cure stuttering was to "whap" the child across the mouth with a greasy dishrag. Some of these "folk myths" may be part of the belief system of some people who stutter, or parents of children who are disfluent, and we need to be aware of them.


African American Myths Regarding Stuttering

(From Appendix A, Robinson, T.L. Jr. and Crowe, T.A., (1998) Culture-Based Considerations in Programming for Stuttering Intervention with African American Clients and Their Families, LSHSS, Volume 29, p. 172-179)

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South Africa - "traditional beliefs" about stuttering

Summary of Traditional Beliefs about Stuttering gathered from the multicultural clinic located at the University of Durban-Westville (UDW), Kwa Zulu, Natal, South Africa.. (In Kathard, Harsha (1998) Issues of culture and stuttering: A South African Perspective, International Stuttering Awareness Day Online Conference, http://www.mnsu.edu/dept/comdis/isad/papers/kathard.html

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African "traditional beliefs" about stuttering

The following traditional beliefs are extracted from papers submitted for International Stuttering Awareness Day Online Conferences: Stuttering in Burkina Faso, West Africa by Moussa Dao ISAD 2002; Some Past Stories On Prevention And Cause Of Stammering In The Nso Land In Cameroon by Jonas Berinyuy, from Cameroon, Africa, ISAD 2002; Stuttering In The Lukong Family. Is It Natural Or A Curse From The Gods? by Joseph Lukong from Cameroon, Africa, ISAD 2002; Ideas In Our Country, Culture, Family About What Causes Stuttering And What Should Be Done About It, by Acheng Moungui Thomas from Cameroon, Africa, ISAD 2002. In his introduction, Dr. Dao stated, "In my country the cause of this speech problem and its treatment are deeply rooted in "folk ideas." These African folk ideas about the treatment for stuttering come from personal experience, from the experience of other people who stutter or from people having attended the treatment of relatives. Even if some of these ideas tend to disappear in the larger cities, in many villages because of illiteracy, ignorance and absence of treatment possibilities, these ideas, some of them potentially harmful, will continue to persist for a long time."

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China - "traditional beliefs" about stuttering

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Mexico - "traditional beliefs" about stuttering

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European "traditional beliefs" about stuttering

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Unknown origin "folk beliefs" about stuttering

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section added April 14, 1999
last modified October 23, 2014
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