Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stuttering: some resources and related links

Learned about the International Stuttering Awareness Day, October 22:
International Stuttering Association - ISAD
International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) occurs on October 22nd and is designed to raise awareness about the challenges that people who stutter experience. ISAD is a joint endeavor by persons who stutter and their families and professionals (educators, researchers and clinicians) interested in stuttering. ISAD provides a framework for building a more humane, just and compassionate world for millions of people who stutter

ISAD is co-sponsored and recognized by major international stuttering organizations such as International Stuttering Association; the International Fluency Association; European League of Stuttering Associations and American Speech-Hearing Association Division on Fluency and Fluency Disorders as well as national organizations which you can find on the International Stuttering Association website (
Source: International Stuttering Association (ISA) - (last accessed, 20 Sept '09).

After I posted that on sgLEAD, I searched more on the topic and found some interesting information on the condition:
  • A study published by the British Medical Association, as cited here, reports that "... bilingualism before the age of 5 has a significant effect on stuttering compared to children who speak only one language before this age".
  • The above results seem to be supported by this research paper led by the Singapore General Hospital, Australian Stuttering Research Centre, and National University of Singapore. From the abstract, the results show that "... English-dominant and Mandarin-dominant BWS exhibited higher %SS and SEV scores in their less dominant language, whereas the scores for the balanced bilinguals were similar for both languages."
  • This NUH flyer/ newsletter article says: "In Singapore at least 1% of the population stutters, with more males and females suffering from this problem." (PDF can be downloaded here).
When talking with people who stutter, the best thing to do is give them the time they need to say what they want to say. Try not to finish sentences or fill in words for them. Doing so only increases the person's sense of time pressure. Also, suggestions like "slow down," "relax," or "take a deep breath" can make the person feel even more uncomfortable because these comments suggest that stuttering should be simple to overcome, but it's not!
  • Stuttering is not just something you are born with. It could occur after a stroke, some illness or accident (as mentioned in the 5th para of this document from MOH; PDF here).
  • According to this article by Metta Welfare Association (page 2; PDF here) "Stuttering is a neurological condition, for which treatment and management protocols are different for the pre-teen and teenage/ adult populations."

How can one get speech-language therapy services in Singapore?
As advised by the Speech-Language and Hearing Association Singapore:
If you have a concern about communication difficulties or swallowing, consult your family doctor or general practitioner, who can then make the necessary referrals to the nearest / most suitable service available. A referral is usually required to access services in hospitals. Alternatively, individuals may directly approach a private Speech and Language therapist for an appointment.

I found these public and private hospitals, agencies and companies in Singapore that offer services for Stuttering/ speech therapy:
[The list may not be exhaustive; all sites were accessed on 20 Sept '09]

You can easily find the definitions for Stuttering from Internet sources, but to properly assess and diagnose it would require specialist help.

What I've read so far all agree that Stuttering is a treatable condition, but there is no cure (meaning, one has to keep working to keep the condition in check). And they all advocate early intervention and treatment (makes sense, because the longer you delay diagnosis and treatment the longer you delay your ability to overcome the problem).

Some books that are in NLB libraries:

Stuttering: Its Nature, Diagnosis and Treatment/ Edward G. Conture
ISBN: 0205319246
NLB Call No.: 616.8554 CON (REFERENCE)
Abstract (from the NLB 'New Arrivals' site):
"This highly readable, clinically oriented book combines theory and therapy and examines all facets of stuttering, from possible etiologies through assessment to treatment. While considerable uncertainty still exists regarding the precise cause(s) of stuttering, Conture provides the reader with an even-handed coverage of fundamental knowledge, methodology, and procedures for effectively dealing with stuttering in children, teenagers, and adults. The book goes beyond a "how to" manual. Rather, Conture's clinical handbook provides both students and clinicians a source for principle-based procedures and strategies for the management of stuttering. Focusing on people who stutter as people first and people who stutter second, the material covers assessment and management of stuttering within the realities of everyday living, concomitant speech and language problems and clinical practice. For those in the fields of communication science and disorders and speech pathology."

Finding my voice: Youth with speech impairment/ Joyce Libal
Finding my voice : youth with speech impairment_ Joyce Libal
ISBN: 1422204227
NLB Call No.: 618.92855 LIB (Young People's Section)
Abstract (from the NLB 'New Arrivals' site):
Speech impairment is a common challenge among youth. Unfortunately, it is a challenge that, despite its frequency, can cause severe emotional and social distress for those who experience it. Stigma and prejudice can present particularly difficult emotional trials and social roadblocks to youth with speech impairments. All too often, these young people are assumed to be less capable, immature, or even unintelligent because of their communication barriers.

Education is the key to dissolving the common assumptions and prejudices held against those with speech impairments. Fortunately, more and more people are learning that speech impairments do not mean these children are less intelligent or less capable than others. Today many doctors, teachers, and organizations are committed to educating the public about speech impairment. They are helping youth with these conditions break down their communication barriers and reach their full potential. In Finding My Voice: Youth with Speech Impairments, you will learn about different types of speech impairments and about speech therapy. Along the way you will meet David, a boy who struggles with stuttering, and Martha who conquers problems with articulation. As David and Martha navigate the many challenges speech impairments pose, you will learn about the struggles, fears, joys, disappointments, and triumphs they meet while on their journeys.

BTW, you might want to head over to the International Stuttering Awareness Day Causes Page on Facebook:
Causes on Facebook | International Stuttering Awareness day is October 22!


  1. Great collection of resources, Ivan!

    You don't seem to have this one:

    Dick Cavett is an old talk show host -- the intellectual alternative to Johnny Carson when I was growing up. He now has a blog on the New York Times and often posts old shows with interviews of interesting people.

    Watch the video in this post about Jonathan Miller -- the first part is about his work directing Shakespeare, but the second half is where he confesses to having a stammer and how he deals with it. The surprising thing is that you would never guess the man ever had a problem saying anything -- and he reveals how he manages it.

    The difference between a stutter and a stammer is mentioned, but not defined.

    Carly Simon -- an American singer/songwriter also from my youth -- in this Daily Beast interview discusses her own struggle with stuttering:

    -- Katie Day

  2. Anonymous10:42 pm

    this is very helpful stuff.

    personally i've known some very talented people who have not been able to get far in their careers because they stutter.

    unfortunately, the world out there is always in a hurry to pass judgements, and fails to see what brilliant gems they truely are.

  3. @Katie - thanks for those links. Fascinating video about Miller. He mentions his stuttering problem around the 15:30min in the video. Says he got around his problem by being a "very skilled paraphraser". And the part about his parents giving him extra money for public transport, in case he couldn't pronounce the station he wanted to get off. It's clear to me his ability to frame his own problem, and taking a creative approach to getting around it (e.g. saying "Arch made of marble" when he couldn't say "Marble Arch"; using his "proxy" method) contributes to his own success in overcoming the problem.

    I knew Carly Simon used to stutter but that blog post was new to me. Made even more poignant since it was written from her own perspective. Thanks for sharing!

    @MyVanillaWorld - could it depend on what is their career? Stuttering does affect one's ability to communicate. Which is why therapy and early intervention (by parents) is important. Yes, there are people who come across as being cruel because of their ignorance. I think it's even more important for people -- who've successfully overcome their stuttering problem -- to share their stories to inspire people who stutter, and to educate those who don't.

  4. Very useful. U into writing reviews these days? Seems like a new direction? Widening and deepening your franchise? Nice work.

  5. @nch - you mean the coverage of the books in this post? Nah, those were from the NLB site, as I indicated via the links. Wish I had a franchise!

  6. Anonymous2:18 pm

    I am a Singaporean female who has been having great problems in job search and securing a job, partly because of my moderately severe stutter. Happened to chance upon this website today and I think it's great. Ivan, please continue to put in more resources. Even when I used to have a job in the past, my colleagues would be especially mean towards me and ostracise me. Now that I am unemployed, I feel disheartened and depressed. Yet I don't seem to see any way out of my crisis.


  7. Anonymous12:10 pm

    Am a life long stutterer and i have grown to accept it, I don' want to be "cured", just know how to control it.

    One thing that was a breakthrough for me was when Lawyer-stutterer Bill Parry wrote about the Valsalva Mechanism which is triggered by stutterers when they block.

    This is the most helpful book that I have read so far. Try to goggle it. Bill Parry has a website and given some examples of his "adronian speech" which seems to be helpful to me.



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