The Stuttering Foundation
In 1947, Malcolm Fraser, a young man from Memphis, Tennessee, knew about stuttering from personal, often painful experience. He decided to do what he could to help others who stutter, and met with one of the foremost authorities of the day, Dr. Charles Van Riper, to discuss founding a nonprofit charitable organization.
The organization Fraser founded became today's Stuttering Foundation of America. Its goal was to provide the best and most up-to-date information and help available for the prevention of stuttering in young children and the most effective treatment available for teenagers and adults.
More than sixty years later, the Stuttering Foundation continues to pursue these same goals, although the tools to accomplish them are more varied and widespread. As it did when Malcolm Fraser turned his dream into reality, the Foundation dedicates itself to the contemporary concerns of all those who stutter.
The Foundation is turning its attention more and more to basic research in an effort to improve early detection and develop better therapies:
Neuroimaging studies have greatly enhanced the potential to understand brain-behavior relationships in complex behaviors such as speech and language. Recent studies by Anne Foundas, M.D., Department of Neurology, LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans, reveal evidence that anatomic anomalies may play a role in stuttering.
Finding the genes involved in stuttering holds the promise of revealing some of the underlying causes of stuttering. The Foundation is actively involved in projects by Dr. Dennis Drayna of the National Institute on Deafness and other Communicative Disorders searching for genetic markers. In February, 2010, Drayna's research team identified the first 3 genes for stuttering.
An extensive public awareness campaign helps dispel misconceptions about stuttering, advises the public that help is available, offers that help, and focuses attention on the latest research.
Press releases have resulted in thousands of stories in print and segments on stuttering in the broadcast media, including CBS This Morning, The Today Show, CNN, NPR, and AP wire stories. These in turn generate thousands of calls from people seeking help.
Public service announcements and advertisements featuring nationally-recognized spokespersons reach millions each year through the generosity of national, regional and local magazines, radio and television stations.
Web sites in English and Spanish contain information for the general public as well as specific help for those who stutter. The Foundation's toll-free line is accessed by more than 20,000 callers each year.
In a groundbreaking alliance to help children who stutter through research, treatment and training programs, the Stuttering Foundation and the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children joined forces in 2006.
The Michael Palin Centre based in London is widely considered one of the premier treatment centers in the world for childhood stuttering.
This partnership means hope for thousands of children who stutter in addition to providing an essential training ground for researchers and clinicians.
Educational Conferences, Workshops and Symposia
From its inception, one of the primary goals of the Foundation has been to discuss and attempt to resolve the many questions surrounding stuttering. Through the years, the Foundation has met this challenge through a variety of educational meetings and seminars, including:
- Week-long meetings during which experts in the field create films and books.
- New technologies are being pursued for more interactive media to help both clinicians and those who stutter.
- Symposia to educate professionals and to focus on a specific topic such as working with the school-age child.
- Week-long intensive training workshops for speech language pathologists. These programs are co-sponsored by leading universities throughout the U.S. and abroad.
The Stuttering Foundation’s books, DVDs and brochures are directed to all those concerned about stuttering, from parents to employers to professionals.
The 29 books, 35 DVDs, and 27 brochures available today bring together current information and cover every phase of this complex disorder. Written by leading professionals in the field, Foundation publications have been translated into other foreign languages and many are used in speech pathology departments in universities around the country and the world.
Publications are shipped annually to 136 countries and have reached millions of people worldwide. Thanks to the generosity of donors, the Foundation is able to make these publications available at a nominal cost.
Honors and Awards
The Foundation’s work has been widely recognized. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association gave its highest award, the Distinguished Service Award, to the Foundation for its “dedication and effective contributions to the field of speech pathology.”
Founder Malcolm Fraser received the National Council on Communicative Disorders Distinguished Service Award, and President Jane Fraser was recognized by her alma mater with the Centennial Distinguished Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award for her efforts on behalf of those who stutter.
Jane Fraser also received the prestigious Outstanding Contribution Award during the International Stuttering Association World Congress in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on May 9, 2007. In presenting the award to Fraser, Melvin Hoffman of ISA said, “No one has done more to further the cause of helping those who stutter.”
Fraser was also named Nonprofit Executive of the Year by The NonProfit Times in 2008.