Despite the large number of people affected by speech disorders, little attention is given to the topic and they remain poorly understood by society at large. As a result, people who stutter often face bullying, stigmatisation and discrimination in the classroom, at work, and even at home by members of their family.
The public perception that people who stutter are nervous, anxious, shy or introverted is simply wrong. Just as stuttering affects people of all social, ethnic and economic backgrounds, it also affects people with different personality types. However, people who stutter may avoid social interactions or other speaking situations, and so come across as shy or quiet.
The inability to effectively communicate can have a significant impact on a person’s mental and emotional well-being and their sense of self-worth. People who stutter repeatedly can experience a deep feeling of frustration, shame and embarrassment, of not being able to be themselves. This can lead to a fear of speaking in a variety of day-to-day situations, resulting in social anxiety and seclusion. The impact of stuttering on a persons’ quality of life can be far more significant than it appears from the outside.
Most people will rarely disclose their disfluency to others. Instead, they will develop strategies and tricks to mask their stutter in an attempt to avoid bullying and prejudice.
Changing society’s views and attitudes towards stuttering is important. It means educating the public about communication disorders and replacing stereotypes and misperceptions with facts.