International Stuttering Awareness Day

International Stuttering Awareness Day - Tuesday, October 22, 2024

Health Awareness Educational

International Stuttering Awareness Day is observed annually on October 22. Stuttering is a communication disorder in which repetitions — or abnormal stoppages of sounds and syllables — break the flow of speech. There may also be unusual facial and body movements associated with speaking. International Stuttering Awareness Day shines a helpful spotlight on stutterers and educates the public about the causes.

People make jokes about everything—about blondes, about citizens of every country in the world, about men, women and children and teenagers, about cultures, history and religion, about various human conditions or mindsets…some of them are genuinely funny, and some of them are downright cruel and offensive. In particular, jokes about disabilities can be very mean-spirited and hurtful towards those who have those disabilities as well as their friends and families. And that’s why so many different disability awareness days exist, to help us understand how much harder the lives of the disabled are, even when their disabilities seem relatively minor. Stuttering can pose real problems in both the personal and professional lives of those suffering from it and take years to get under control, not to mention the amount of embarrassment and frustration it can cause in the meantime.

The History of International Stuttering Awareness Day

Stuttering has been the subject of interest of many physicians over the millennia, with one of the most famous stutterers being prominent Ancient Greek statesman and Demosthenes. Demosthenes, who lived in the 4th century BC, could not speak without stuttering and was often mocked by his peers, causing him to become determined to get his condition under control, especially since he was an extremely intelligent man who had plenty to say about Athens’ political situation. One of the tactics he used was to practice speaking loud enough to be heard over the waves with pebbles in his mouth, and after much hard work, he succeeded. Other famous people who have had to deal their stutter include the Roman Emperor Claudius, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe, and James Earl Jones, whose voice the world knows as that of Darth Vader himself.

In ancient and medieval times, herbal remedies were often recommended for stuttering, as was drinking water from a snail shell, and the most superstitious believed that the condition could be caused by tickling an infant too much or allowing it to look at itself in the mirror. In the 18th and 19th centuries, different kinds of dangerous surgeries were prescribed to help correct a stutterer’s speech, from making small incisions in the tongue or lips to removing the tonsils, none of which were effective. Nowadays, various kinds of fluency shaping therapy are prescribed that help the stutterer exercise more control over his or her lips, jaw and tongue. Simply decreasing a stutterer’s stress and anxiety levels has also been shown to greatly improve speech. As a last resort, several types of medication can also be prescribed, though their effectiveness seems to be quite limited and a number of side effects great.

How to Celebrate International Stuttering Awareness Day

The best way to celebrate this way is to read up on some talented and influential individuals who have had to deal with a stutter, and how much work they did to overcome it. If you’re in the mood for a movie, “The King’s Speech” is an Oscar-winning historical drama about King George VI of England and his speech and language therapist, Lionel Logue, who worked together tirelessly to finally beat his disability. If you have children, this day is the perfect time to talk to them a bit about the lives and struggles of thus and otherwise disabled classmates who struggle with their conditions every day. You can also consider making a donation to the International Stuttering Association to help them help those who can’t afford treatment improve their lives.

History of International Stuttering Awareness Day

Established in 1998, International Stuttering Awareness Day brings attention to the millions of people around the world living with this specific communication disorder. Usually when people refer to stuttering, they imagine the repetition of a specific word; however stuttering comes in many other forms, including elongation of a vowel or syllable. This condition is also variable, meaning that the severity of the stutter is inconsistent. Some days a person might only stutter a few times while others the stutter may affect most of their interactions.
Stuttering has been around longer than people have been able to record their interactions involving the condition, but a lack of understanding for the disorder resulted in years of unfair treatment. Passages in the Bible are written to indicate that Moses spoke with a stammer. Claudius, who would later become a Roman emperor, was originally shunned and excluded from public office because people believed that stuttering was a sign of unintelligence. 
In 19 century Europe, surgery was recommended for people impacted by the speech disorder. Surgeons would use scissors to remove a triangular wedge from the back of the tongue, as well as cutting nerves and muscles in the neck and lips. Other surgeons practiced shorting the uvula or removing the tonsils. These practices were later abandoned as patients were bleeding to death, and those who survived still had their stutter.
Though it is now understood that stuttering is a neurological disorder that can be developmental (obtained as a child) or acquired (developed as an adult due to trauma or drug abuse), there is still an air of stigma that follows those who live with it. This International Stuttering Awareness Day, take the time to learn about the 1% of humanity affected and what you can do to help others stay educated on the condition. 

International Stuttering Awareness Day timeline


​Winston Churchill

In her book, "I was Winston Churchill's Personal Secretary," Phyllis Moir mentioned that Churchill grew up with a stutter.


​Stuttering Foundation of America Founded

Malcom Fraser founded what is now known as the Stuttering Foundation of America.


"The King's Speech"​ film released

King George VI took years of speech therapy from an Australian actor to overcome his stutter and gain confidence in public speaking. 


Support the troops

The British government announced the Defence Stammering Network to su​pport troops with the neurological condition.

International Stuttering Awareness Day FAQs

Is there a cure for stuttering?

There is no real cure for stuttering, but there are speech therapy classes for those looking for ways to manage the disorder. However, it is not 100% guaranteed that they will always work. Children will sometimes lose their stutter as they go through puberty or enter adulthood, while adults who have never stuttered through childhood may develop a stutter later in life.

Is stuttering a mental disorder?

Stuttering is a neurological speech disorder that can be obtained genetically or through trauma that affects the brain.

What is the difference between a stammer and a stutter?

Stammering and stuttering can be used interchangeably to describe the same disorder; however it is more common to use the word “stuttering” in the U.S., while “stammering” is more often used in Britain. 

​5 Myths About Stuttering

  1. ​Nervousness

    Though it may sound like a person is falling over their words, being nervous is not the main cause of stuttering. Instead of telling people who stutter to take a deep breath, patiently wait for them to get to the end of their sentence without cutting them off. 

  2. ​Shyness

    Shyness may cause stutterers to speak less, but it is not an an underlying cause of stuttering.​ People who stutter might be afraid of judgement, so show them they can trust you by giving them the same amount of attention you would to those who don't stutter.

  3. ​It's just a habit

    Stuttering is a neurological condition, not a habit that can be easily broken​. Though people who stutter may enroll in speech therapy classes, these classes are more so to build confidence in their speech rather than promise to cure the condition.

  4. Lack of intellegence

    Lots of smart people have stutters. Although stuttering is linked to a specific area of the brain, it doesn't affect a person's intelligence.

  5. ​Bad parents

    While bad parenting might make a child's stuttering worse, it is not the root cause of stuttering. However, if you believe a child is in a dangerous situation, don't hesitate to contact the police.

How to Observe International Stuttering Awareness Day

  1. Get educated

    Stutterers suffer from social stigma that can lead to bullying in children and ostracism in adults. Through the resources provided by International Stuttering Awareness Day, individuals and families can learn more about how to support those with a stutter and decrease the stigma that surrounds it.

  2. Attend the online conference

    Each year, the International Stuttering Association hosts an online event to mark International Stuttering Awareness Day. The public is free to participate in the online event, which focuses on a different theme every year and brings together individuals from around the world.

  3. Get involved

    If you have a friend or family member who stutters you can get involved by helping to educate those they may come into contact with. For example, the National Stuttering Association provides educational materials that parents of stutterers can use to aid teachers.

Why International Stuttering Awareness Day is Important

  1. Stuttering is misunderstood

    There are many myths surrounding stuttering and those who live with the condition. For example, contrary to what many think, it's not caused by nervousness or shyness. International Stuttering Awareness Day educates the public about stuttering and thereby diminishes the stigma.

  2. It provides assistance

    International Stuttering Awareness Day provides hope to people who stutter by showing them they're not alone and by providing them with resources to improve their speech. It connects individuals with research and speech pathologists.

  3. It's a community

    The National Stuttering Association is a community of people who share their challenges and stories with each other. By attending events and workshops, often delivered through local chapters, those who stutter can meet and learn from others with similar stories.

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