Pre-dental senior Nate Morton has stuttered all his life, which he said made him struggle with his confidence and self image. Now, Morton finds comfort in embracing his stutter and advocates for reaching out to institutions such as The Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute for presentation tips and confidence building.
Tuesday Oct. 22 is International Stuttering Awareness Day, and the Lang Stuttering Institute planned a weeklong advocation in the Belo Center for New Media lobby on behalf of the stuttering community.
The institute was established in 2014 and provides evaluations and free therapy for individuals who stutter, according to the institute’s website. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders defines stuttering as a speech disorder characterized by repetition or prolongation of sounds, syllables or words.
“I do know how hard (stuttering) can be on kids and how mean others can be,” Morton said in a message. “So anytime I can get a chance to help kids, I enjoy doing it. Being a kid is hard enough, but stuttering definitely brings another (struggle) to that.”
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, roughly 3 million Americans stutter. A quarter of children ages two to six who have stutters carry the speech disorder into adulthood.
“I have always found value in communication and self-expression and believe everyone should have access to language in some way,” said Kate Bramlett,mcommunication sciences and disorders freshman. “And it doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people, so there is no shame in that.”
Courtney Byrd, the institute’s founding director, said the waitlist for the institute’s two-and-a-half year speech therapy program is around two years. Once accepted into the program, Lang employees work with individuals who stutter, and families point others to the institution.
“We have been able to reach so many people with nearly nothing, and that is why I am determined to reach more,” said Byrd, communication sciences and disorders associate professor.
Morton said knowing successful people, such as Marilyn Monroe, Emily Blunt, Jimmy Stewart, James Earl Jones and Samuel L. Jackson struggled with stuttering, helped him embrace his stutter.
“We as stutterers, and really nonstutterers as well, make our perceived imperfections a bigger deal than it really is,” Morton said. “When we realize that everyone has unique personalities and accept ourselves for being different, it makes relationships and communication much more enjoyable.”