Many children who stutter have never met another person who stutters or who can relate to the struggles they face when communicating at school or with their friends. For others, stuttering can cause feelings of isolation or even put children who stutter at risk for bullying at school.
About one percent of the population stutters at any given time, and approximately five percent of people experience stuttering at some point in their lives. There is no cure for stuttering, but support group participation helps reduce the negative effects of stuttering and enhances the success of speech therapy.
The San Diego chapter of the National Stuttering Association will host just such an event: its first local Family Fun Day on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at Wegeforth Elementary School in San Diego. The event will provide information and support to young children and teenagers who stutter, their families, and people who work with them, such as speech-language pathologists.
Wendy Gaines, mother of Jacob, 11, a child who stutters, is enthusiastic about meeting other children who stutter. “San Diego never had a support system for kids who stutter,” she says. “We are so excited to have our son meet other kids who stutter.”
“While there is no single cause of stuttering,” says speech-language pathologist Nina Reeves, “research indicates that stuttering can be caused by an interaction of various factors—none of which can be created by parents or the child who stutters.”
The National Stuttering Association works closely with speech professionals and refers people who stutter to speech-language pathologists who have the specialized qualifications needed for effective treatment.
Wendy was introduced to the National Stuttering Association through its executive director, Tammy Flores, after expressing frustration with finding the support necessary for her son. Although Jacob had been participating in speech therapy for three years, he felt he was not improving or being given tools to cope with his stuttering.
Nina emphasizes that support groups provide connections with other people who stutter, which is vital to children and teens who stutter.
“Gathering together based upon common experiences is both educational and empowering,” she says. “Children, teens, and parents learn that they are not alone, and that there is hope for the future.”
Wendy says she was not successful trying to find the right speech therapist and program for Jacob on her own. However, after connecting with the National Stuttering Association, Wendy found better information. She says, “You can speak to people who understand your feelings.”
The National Stuttering Association is the world’s largest stuttering support organization dedicated to providing support and resources to people who stutter. For more information about the National Stuttering Association Family Fun Day or stuttering resources, visit www.westutter.org.