Imagine you have a million things to say, but are petrified every single time you open your mouth. Even introducing yourself fills you with such monumental dread, you avoid parties and social situations.
Stuttering is the butt of many a joke, but having a speech disorder is no laughing matter. Stuttering is caused by "abnormalities in speech motor control" and is largely an inherited condition. In rare cases, a brain or deep emotional trauma can bring on disordered speech.
When it comes to stuttering, though, the myths abound. It doesn't mean you are dumb. Nor does it mean you are nervous or stressed, though stress can certainly exacerbate the condition.
Teasing and bullying can lead to lasting low self-esteem to deeper psychological issues like depression and anxiety. The worst part: it's all avoidable.
My friend's son was lucky. He received weekly therapy for many months before he even started school. Now there is no trace of his impediment. Not all kids are as fortunate, though.
One in 100 people stutter—mostly males for some reason. Famous PWS include not only the great King George, played by Colin Firth in The King's Speech, but also Winston Churchill and Marilyn Monroe, as well as many other surprising names. Stuttering has hardly limited their achievements.
A speech disorder can be detected in children as early as two years old yet, as my friend can attest, therapy is expensive and can involve long waiting lists.
Greg O’ Grady aims to change all that. The support he received from The Speech and Stuttering Institute changed his life. Now he wants to help others achieve the same success. O'Grady has coordinated the Institute's third annual 1k/5k walk to raise funds for stuttering awareness.
“A Million Things I Need to Say” takes place at the Speech and Stuttering Institute (150 Duncan Ave.) on the Betty Sutherland Trail in Toronto.
For further information about the Institute or the walk, visit http://www.stutter.ca/walk/.
Not sure whether your child needs speech therapy? This resource may help.