A new support group for people who stutter was created this month through the IU Speech-Language Clinic and has been named the Bloomington chapter of the National Stuttering Association.
“The support group offers encouragement and a space to stutter freely without judgement or worry for those with varying levels of severity in their stutter,” IU Kelley School of Business freshman Juan said.
Julia Rademacher, coordinator of the Support Group for People Who Stutter, said the goals of the group is to provide opportunities for members to connect, share lived experiences, offer encouragement and challenge the status quo.
“Stuttering does not have to define who you are or what you do with your life,” Rademacher said.
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Associate professor of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Julie Anderson said stuttering is a complex disorder with speech, physiological, emotional and cognitive factors that last over time.
“A college student might be more reluctant to participate in social interactions or events on campus or be less willing to volunteer information in class,” Anderson said. “Not all individuals experience stuttering this way. Some people who stutter have no such restrictions in their everyday lives.”
According to the National Stuttering Association, about 1% of the world’s population stutters and 5% of children experience a period of stuttering. For IU PhD student Iryna Voloshyna, her stuttering began when she was a child. She has worked with a speech pathologist, folk medicine and religious practices.
“Over time, I learned to take control over my speech,” Voloshyna said. “It's important to see that people who stutter achieve success in various careers and that stutter didn't stop them from being successful.”
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Though the support group and therapy treatment available through the IU Speech-Language Clinic, Anderson said that faculty and students can support those who stutter by treating them like anyone else.
“Don’t finish their sentences or fill in their words when they are struggling to communicate,” Anderson said. “Wait patiently until they are finished speaking and let them know that you are focusing on what they are saying, not how they are saying it. Regardless of the situation, however, patience is key.”
Meetings will be hosted virtually due to the winter season on the second Tuesday of each month from 7-8 p.m. with plans for in-person meetings in the future. Those interested should contact Rademacher for more information.
“The support group offers tools and resources to not only help in everyday life but for preparing for after college as well,” Juan said.
The IU Speech-Language Clinic is in the Health Sciences Building at IU Health Bloomington Hospital. They offer therapy services for a variety of conditions.