Congressman Frank Wolf gave a speech on March 6 on the House floor about the challenges he and other people who stutter face. Below is the complete text of Congressman’s remarks:
“Today I rise to discuss something very close to me. I want to talk about stuttering. I have been a life-long stutterer.
“More than 70 million people stutter. One in every 100 people in the world stutters and in the U.S., more than 3 million Americans stutter. You probably have a friend, a neighbor, a classmate, a coworker or a family member who stutters. Most people do.
“About five percent of all children go through a stuttering phase that lasts six months or more. Some will recover by late childhood, but one out of every 100 children will be left with long-term stuttering.
“I would like to take this time to tell you a little more about stuttering; what it is, and how family members and friends can help.
“Stuttering is a disorder where the flow of speech is broken by repetitions, prolongations or abnormal stoppages of sounds and syllables. For some people, unusual facial and body movements may happen when they try to speak.
“Stuttering is most likely caused by four factors:
• Child development, for example, children with other speech and language problems or developmental delays are more likely to stutter
• The make-up of the brain. An ongoing research study by Dr. Anne Smith with the Purdue University Stuttering Project shows that people who stutter seem to process speech and language differently than those who don’t.
• Lastly, family dynamics have an impact – high expectations and fast-paced lifestyles can also contribute to stuttering
“People who stutter are no different from those who don’t stutter. In fact, studies by Dr. Ehud Yairi at the University of Illinois show that people who stutter are as intelligent and as well-adjusted as those who don't.
“Contrary to what many people believe, stuttering can be treated. Speech-Language Pathologists, therapists trained to help deal with speech issues like stuttering, often work in schools, clinics, at universities and in private practice to help treat stuttering.
“The most important thing – and many experts agree – that early intervention is key. The earlier we can identify stuttering in our children, and get them the help they need, the better chances we have of helping them to speak more fluently.
“If you stutter, if your child or a loved one stutters, or if you even think they might be stuttering, get help immediately. One of the best ways to get help is by visiting the Stuttering Foundation. The Foundation was started by Malcolm Fraser more than 70 years ago. His book, called Self-Therapy for the Stutterer was originally published in 1978 and is still one of the best books on stuttering available.
“You can visit the Foundation’s Web site at: www.StutteringHelp.org. They have lots of well-trusted, expert information available for free, including Malcolm Fraser’s book, as well as countless brochures, videos and other materials for parents and teachers.
“Unfortunately, there are no instant miracle cures for stuttering. No surgery. No pills. No intensive weekend retreats. Stuttering takes time and effort and commitment to work through. Some people outgrow it. Some people respond well to years of therapy and learn to speak fluently with almost no trace of difficulty. But for many others, stuttering becomes a lifelong struggle.
“For those of us who stutter, and for the millions of parents with children who stutter, we all know stuttering becomes more challenging for teenagers. Kids can be tough on a classmate who stutters, and for some, the teasing and the mocking can be too much.
“We must help people who stutter understand that there are many people who know first-hand how difficult it is for someone who stutters and that help is available. We need to be patient, kind, understanding and attentive. We need to show we care.”
Watch Congressman Frank Wolf make his comments on the Floor of the U.S. House at www.YouTube.com/stutteringfdn.
From the Summer 2014 Newsletter