We’ve all heard the saying “be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about”. In terms of stuttering awareness, do you ever see someone stuttering on social media? I’m going to guess your answer is “no”. But let me ask you this...have you ever met someone in real life who stutters, or at least know of someone who does? Now I bet your answer is “yes”.
As a speech-language pathologist, I encounter people constantly who tell me that they themselves had speech difficulties as a child, or their brother, cousin, nephew, sister’s boyfriend’s aunt...you get the point. Speech disorders are WAY more common than we think, stuttering included.
This is where social media versus reality comes into play. If we all know or know of someone who stutters, why do we never see or hear about it? More than 70 million people in the world right now are people who stutter, and clearly their stories are not being heard. 70 MILIION! I’ll let that sink in.
Now that we know millions and millions of people are experiencing this external and internal struggle, it’s important to mention the quality of life factor. As the title states “Social Media Versus Reality”, it should be clear that no one’s quality of life is as high as perceived in social media. We film and take pictures of our “highlight reel”, not the stressful or bad days. For example, sometimes I myself experience a “slow day”, where I don’t feel as energized as usual. This can usually be partially solved by ordering a coffee, which seems to band aid the problem. Now, let’s imagine I’m already having a bad day, but I can’t buy my favorite cappuccino because I’m anxious to order food in public places, afraid I might stutter. This seems like a minor problem, but realistic.
Let's tackle a larger problem now. Imagine you have a job interview, and you are a person who stutters. My job literally revolves around speaking, but even I find myself as a loss for words during interviews. Add the anxiety of stuttering into the mix, and suddenly, the situation becomes even worse. Studies have shown that 85 percent of employers agreed that stuttering decreases a person's employability and opportunities for promotion (Hurst, M.I. & Cooper, E.B., 1983). The sad truth is that many qualified candidates who could offer so much to the workforce are being overlooked, simply because of their stutter. Negativity and stereotypes are behaviors of the past but can only be changed with the right approach to the problem. That approach begins with spreading awareness!
Not only is Speechagain a program to provide speech therapy for those who stutter, but we are also a platform to raise awareness! Everyone is fighting their own personal battle, but you don’t have to do it alone. Help us spread the word! Follow us on social media as we break the speech barriers and share the real stories.