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 without judgement, focused, and caring. 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.
Unfortunately, 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. It has nothing to do with native language. Stuttering is an affliction that leads to personal struggles around the world.
The International Stuttering Association formed, as a uniting force, in 1995. Its focus is support and education. Three years later, in 1998, the first International Stuttering Awareness Day was established.
October 22 is the culmination of activities that begin on October 1. From local community meetings to worldwide symposiums and online conferences, those who stutter share 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 unknown, but advances in the field are encouraging. Studies on child development and language anomalies, combined with speech therapy activities and diagnostic tools, 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.