We all have something to say, and all our voices count. We don’t express ourselves in the same way because our voices are different. However, we need to know that we are heard.
It is important that the listening is focused, caring and without judgement. These are simple concepts, but on International Stuttering Awareness Day they take on a special meaning.
Conservative estimates put the number of people with this speech disorder at more than 60 million. Those voices unite with ours on October 22 through national symposiums, speech therapy activities and international projects.
This is a great day to speak out loud and proud regardless of our differences.
We have this day on the calendar thanks to a surprising number of national and international organizations that, in the early 1970s, began addressing the issues of stuttering.
Those with normal speech capabilities are sometimes prejudiced against the tangled tongue. This attitude is born from the same ignorance that gives rise to all forms of discrimination. Stuttering has nothing at all to do with native language. It’s an affliction that leads to personal struggles around the world.
The International Stuttering Association formed in 1995 as a uniting force to focus on support and education, the first International Stuttering Awareness Day was established three years later.
October 22 is the culmination of activities that begin on October 1. From worldwide symposiums and online conferences to local organizations and community meetings, those who stutter exchange experiences, ideas and hopes with each other. They share with us too, and we do well to listen.
The root cause of this disorder is still not entirely known, but advances in the field are encouraging. Studies on child development and language anomalies combined with diagnostic tools and speech therapy activities give great hope to those who stutter.
Speaking out in a world that seems impatient to listen takes courage. Today we focus not on the sound of what we hear but the importance of the voice that speaks.