By Judith Maginnis Kuster
Despite the long history and high incidence of stuttering, many professionals do not feel adequately prepared to meet the challenge of clients who stutter.
Stuttering is one of the earliest reported speech disorders; an Egyptian hieroglyph depicts a speech problem that may be stuttering (www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/kids/kidfaq.html#first).
Stuttering was instrumental in the development of our profession. Read "Part of Our Heritage" by Elliott J. Schaffer, first published in the April 1966 ASHA Magazine, pp. 167-168 (www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/history/heritage.html) and "An Early History of ASHA" by Charles Van Riper first published in the November 1981, ASHA Magazine, pp. 855-858. (www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/vanriper/articles/hx/ashaearlyhx.html).
Stuttering affects one out of 100 people worldwide (www.asha.org/members/research/reports/speech_voice_language.htm). Compare this to the incidence figures of several other disabilities served by a speech-language pathologist: autism occurs in one in every 500 individuals according to February 2007 prevalence figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cleft palate occurs in one in 700 births (www.widesmiles.org/cleftlinks/WS-168.html) and Down syndrome occurs in one of every 800 live births (www.nads.org/pages_new/facts.html).
There are many ways to increase understanding of stuttering. The Internet can help!
The Stuttering Foundation
Visit the Stuttering Foundation (www.stutteringhelp.org/), a nonprofit organization providing free online resources, services and support to those who stutter and their families. You will find:
The Stuttering Home Page began in the early 1990s as a gopher site before the World Wide Web became available and has continued to grow (www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/stutter.html). Take time to explore the entire site, but one of the newer sections, "Stuttering Course Materials" (www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/teaching/teaching.html) includes:
Online Stuttering Conference Opens Oct. 1
"Don't Be Afraid of Stuttering," the 11th annual International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) Online Conference, opens Oct. 1 and culminates Oct. 22, designated International Stuttering Awareness Day by the International Fluency Association, the International Stuttering Association, and the European League of Stuttering Associations.
Individuals interested in stuttering, professional therapists (clinicians as well as clients and their support persons) will discuss this much-misunderstood disorder in one of the year's largest professional conferences. Consumers and professionals from more than a dozen countries, will give presentations that will be posted on the Web site. Presentations are designed for a general audience, and feedback and discussion are invited through an Internet bulletin board. Past conferences have drawn participation from more than 145 countries. The conference will be open at the top of the Stuttering Home Page (www.stutteringhomepage.com) Oct. 1 - 22. It is freely accessible to anyone with an Internet connection and is also available for 1.5 CEUs or 1 university credit. All previous conferences are permanently archived at this site.
Judith Kuster is a professor in the Department of Speech, Hearing, and Rehabilitation Services at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. All of Kuster's Internet columns are available in HTML format with active links (www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster4/leader.html), although URLs change and there is no guarantee that links from previous articles are still functional.
Kuster, JM, Online Stuttering Resources, ASHA Leader, September 23, 2008, p. 34-35.