International Stammering Awareness Day (ISAD) - 2021

Stammering or stuttering is a speech condition that affects approximately 3% of the world's population. 1 in every 8 children will stammer at some point. Many children will simply stop stammering at some point and for others it will become a lifelong condition.

(Written by School of Beatbox founder, Danny Ladwa)

This is a condition that I experienced as a child between the age of 9-11 yrs old. I couldn’t understand why some words just wouldn’t come out of my mouth. Some words would just get stuck. I knew the word I wanted to say, but when I pushed to say it, I couldn’t. This often happened when trying to say my name "Danny". I would be desperately stuck on the ‘D’, and uncertain if the rest of my name would vocalise. I found that sometimes one of two things could help me. The first was to sing the word and the other option was literally to belt it out quite loudly. Either option usually resulted in a slightly awkward situation. The strange thing was I wasn’t born with this condition, I could speak fluently but then all of a sudden, I couldn’t.

Why Do People Stammer?

Our brain is split into two hemispheres. The left hemisphere of the brain deals with things like facts, logic, mathematics and importantly for this post - ‘language’ & ‘thinking in words’. The right processes functions like visualisation, creativity, rhythm, intuition & imagination. As stammering is something that affects only a person's speech and not other modes of vocal expression such as singing or rapping, experts have uncovered that it is a neurological condition that occurs only in the left side of the brain. So this is why a person will not stammer when they sing or rap as they are, in that moment, using the right hemisphere of the brain to produce the words.

Why Do Some People Stop Stammering While Others Continue to Stammer?

Speech-language pathologist and neuroscientist Soo-Eun Chang of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has been researching this and her studies are pointing towards connections between the parts of the brain that take care of hearing and speech to be a key factor. There may be evidence that these once weaker connections can get stronger over time. There is currently not much more that we know as to why some people stop stammering but it's exciting that Dr Chang may have found some clues.

What Effects Can Stammering Have on People's Lives?

Most people know what stammering is. You may know someone that stammers or may have watched a programme or film about stammering like ‘The Kings Speech’, starring Colin Firth or ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ starring Michael Palin.

Most people don’t know, however, the depth to which it can affect people’s lives.

Did you know many people that stammer will often avoid speaking situations?

That means making the decision NOT to meet up with friends, and NOT to go to that event. It can also mean NOT applying for that job, NOT using the phone and NOT going to say hello to that person over there. Put yourself in the shoes, for one minute, of someone that felt they needed to turn down all of these regular freedoms in life because they have a speech condition. How would missing out on all the above have affect your life on a daily basis?

If you are thinking that you don’t often come across people that stammer, think about the above and it might give you an indication as to why.

If you do come across someone that stammers the right thing to do is simply as you would expect in return - to be treated with respect and patience.

Today is International Stammering Awareness Day!

Come and watch the premiere of ‘STAMMER PROJECT’ a documentary produced by School of Beatbox. The film takes a look into the lives of 6 people, all living with a stammer. The film captures their profound mission to raise global awareness about stammering through the power of music - using their voices. Watch their journey unfold as they undergo vocal training and prepare to head into the music studio together for the first time. A story of courage, strength, trust and the incredible power of the voice.

When: Thursday 11th Nov @ 7pm
Where: The Yellow, 1 Humphry Repton Lane, Wembley Park, London, HA9 0GL

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