To coincide with National Stuttering Awareness Week, Dr. Williams has at times challenged his students to respond to a hypothetical editor of the local newspaper asking, "What are five things the general public should know about stuttering?" In response to this question, each student is to list 5 statements and explain in 500 words or less, so the average newspaper reader (i.e. person outside the field of speech-language pathology) could understand them. With the students' permission, Williams sent their answers to his university's public relations office. It led to some local media attention, including an article written by Williams for the Boca News, which resulted in a lot of telephone calls and several requests for evaluations. The editorial is included below as a good example.
Stuttering is a speech fluency disorder that affects nearly 3 million Americans. For these individuals, speech can be a frustrating experience. This frustration is compounded by the many misconceptions that surround this disorder.

National Stuttering Awareness Week (May 8 - 14) offers a time to dispel some of these misconceptions:

Arguably the most harmful misconception is that children normally outgrow stuttering and, therefore, parents should ignore it. This is inappropriate and potentially harmful advice for worried parents. While spontaneous recovery does occur, recent research suggests that it is the exception rather than the rule.

More importantly, there is presently no way to identify which children will and will not recover on their own. Therefore, rather than ignoring the problem, parents who suspect that their child's speech fluency is abnormal should have that child evaluated by a speech-language pathologist. If caught in time, patterns of abnormal fluency can be ameliorated, often without direct therapy. If ignored, the problem can, and often does, worsen.

Help for people who stutter is available in Boca Raton at the Florida Atlantic University Communication Disorders Center. For information, call (407) 367-2258.

Dale F. Williams, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Florida Atlantic University
added April 28, 1997