Friday, May 06, 2011

When is a person a stutterer?

Nathan shares my suspicion that Newton was not a stutterer, and he questions whether we could even have labelled him if we had one video of him!
I watched two videos this week where people were having difficultly speaking and if these existed of Newton, I think there would be a medium strength case that he stutters. With these people it is really not clear. They probably don't, but there are some points where both of these people have difficulty speaking that is typical for me and some secondary behaviors.

 The computer scientist Donald Knuth seems to struggle with speech. And so does 2010 Physics Nobel Prize winner Novoselov.


Zach said...

For a person to be a true PWS, he must have some disfluencies + Fear.

A PWS can have a substantial amount of disfluencies, but without the fear factor, then not a real stammerer.

For example, George Bush not a PWS, but a retard!

Anonymous said...

For example - You can tell Zach stutters cauz he opens his mouth...Plus he is a diagnosed retard.

Hans said...

I do know Zach. He is cognitively challenged and does stutter.

Zach should not be using the word "retard."

Ora said...

Why is it important to be able to say that a person is a "stutterer" or not?

My assumption is that stuttering-type fluency disorders are roughly on a continuum. Some people stutter more or less, and there's no clear demarcation between "stutters less severely" and "normal speaker with occasional dysfluencies". Why do we need to assign a "yes" or "no" answer to the question of whether a specific individual stutters. Why does it matter?

Are we afraid that people will impersonate stutterers, or pretend to be stutterers when they're not, and somehow gain some undeserved advantage from that?

Anonymous said...

Ora - many people stutter but when they slow down and focus all their attention they are able to pronounce any word fluently. Stutterers on the other hand will get stuck on certain words regardless of how much they concentrate. This is where I draw the line.

Anonymous said...

Funny that we condemn the media for making fun of stuttering but some feel it's OK to throw the "R" word around with ease.

Rich said...

It's 2011, a film on stuttering wins Best Picture, and still, still the ignorance and misinformation (and disinformation, distressingly) persists. In response to the first comment above: stuttering is neurologically-based. It is neither a product of, nor necessarily co-occurs with, "fear". "Fear" can trigger stuttering, but stuttering occurs with or without stuttering. Not only do scientific studies bear this out, but so do the experiences of millions of stutterers (including my own).

Even after the past 2-3 decades of valuable research findings from neuro-imaging studies, we are still amid "Dark Ages"-thinking that falsely claims that stuttering is a by-product of emotion. This is akin to the outdated 19th century beliefs that conditions such as mental illness, Cerebral Palsy, or Tourette's Syndrome were all "in the mind" and could be cured when the patient resolved Freudian parent issues (or perhaps subjected to spiritual exorcism). The persistent claim that stuttering is caused by fear is a damaging belief that continues to keep fraudulent stuttering treatments on the market at the expense of people who stutter. Moreover, it continues to perpetuate the myth among the general population that stutterers are people who are perpetually fearful, and if they could just stop being afraid then their stuttering would either go away or be reduced.

Enough of the tired myths. Stuttering is genetic, neurologically-based, and a real, bona fide "disorder". This does not mean we throw in the proverbial towel and simply feel sorry for ourselves--it means that we acknowledge (and demand that others acknowledge) that stuttering is no more a product of emotions or the environment than is epilepsy or Huntington's Disease. We need to stop pretending otherwise, and continue speaking the truth.