Imagine being afraid to say your own name.

Many people who stutter struggle with introducing themselves. The speaker may experience a "block", a total stoppage of airflow and sound, that leaves a long pause. 

"Hello, my name is... ... ... ..."

They may hear the oh-so-original quip: "What's wrong? Did you forget your own name?"

No, I didn't. I just stutter, is all.

Today is International Stuttering Awareness Day. 2013 is the 15th anniversary of a worldwide campaign to promote awareness of stuttering.

Stuttering affects 1% of the population. This 1% holds consistent across nationalities, cultures, and languages. For every 100 people you know, statistically, one of them stutters.

Fast facts about stuttering

  • 1% of people stutter.
  • 3 out of 4 people who stutter are male.
  • 60% of people who stutter also have a family member who stutters.
  • There is no single cause of stuttering. Factors that predispose someone to stuttering include genetics, neurophysiology, environment, and personal qualities.
  • Studies have shown that people who stutter have both anatomical and functional differences in the area of the brain that processes speech and language.
  • Stuttering is not correlated with reduced intelligence or competency. In fact, children who stutter often exhibit advanced language and cognitive abilities.
  • There is no "cure" for stuttering. However, various resources such as support groups, online communities, speech therapy, and non-profit organizations can help to improve a speaker's communication skills and confidence.
  • People who stutter are capable of performing any job or role, including positions that require lots of speaking. Famous "speaking professionals" who stutter include Winston Churchill, James Earl Jones, Vice President Joe Biden, Samuel L. Jackson, Emily Blunt, Jack Welch, and Bruce Willis.

Spreading awareness

Green ribbon for international stuttering awareness day

There are many myths about stuttering. Many of these myths include negative assumptions about people who stutter and can make it difficult for people who stutter to be open about their speech.

What can you do? Educate yourself about stuttering. If you notice someone have difficulty with their speech, listen patiently. Don't interrupt or finish the sentence for them. Don't mock or make jokes (even if well-intended). Don't make assumptions.

And if you stutter, "stutter on and stutter strong"! Spread the word!