About 1% of the world population suffers from stammering. Now that may seem very less a number, but still amounts to more than a million people in its set.
Over the centuries, there have been countless theories about possible causes of stammering and there are researchers across the world who are trying to find out exactly what makes one child more vulnerable than another. Recently there has been growing evidence that genetics plays an important part, but not in all families.
Since every child is unique, each has a different cause for stammering. The diagram shown below tries to analyse how a child starts to stammer, how the stammering changes over time, why children stammer more or less in particular circumstances and the impact that it has on the child and family.
Everyone is born with their own physicality and as we grow and develop, everyday experiences shape our personal characteristics- our strengths and our vulnerabilities. Each individual who stammers will probably have a different combination or ‘loading’ of these factors and these can change over time. The diagram below shows some examples of the factors that might be important for a child.
Though valid for most cases, there are plenty of examples where this diagram does not fit, this making it a complex problem that needs our attention. This is where the ISAD comes in.
International Stammering Awareness Day (ISAD) happens on 22nd October every year. Stammering associations, individuals and groups around the world organise events to mark the day and to raise awareness of stuttering. It began as an initiative in 1998 spear-headed by Michael Sugarman, Oakland, California and has continued and grown every year since.
The symbol for the awareness is a sea green coloured band. Why sea green for stammering awareness? Michael Sugarman who founded ISAD writes: “The color ‘blue’ has traditionally been associated with calm while ‘green’ represents liberty, freedom and justice.”
ISAD is chiefly organised by three organizations:
- European League of Stuttering Associations
- International Fluency Association
- International Stuttering Association
It includes an online conference, running annually from October 1 to 22, targeted at people with an interest in stuttering as well as speech language pathologists and their clients. The conferences, held every year since 1998, are all still available online
It also includes public awareness events, a media campaign, educational activities and online resources.
International Stammering Awareness Day is a great opportunity to talk to the general public about stammering. Only by talking openly about stammering will we gradually remove the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding it. And there’s an additional benefit to us as well – talking about it is therapeutic in its own right!
All of us can help in some way to get the important messages across. Go to www.stammering.org to find out more.