People with stutters share experiences during Discussion Panel


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Students pack in to attend the stuttering panel to discuss how speech impediment has affected the lives of their peers on Oct. 26 in Moore Hall.

There was laughter, tears and straight talk on stuttering Thursday.

Fifteen panelists shared their thoughts on the speech impediment of stuttering during the Stuttering Discussion Panel that took place 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 in Kiva Theater of Moore Hall.

The entire room shared in learning about the challenges, as well as accomplishments, faced by individuals with speech impediments.

The event was the finale of a week of events hosted for Stuttering Awareness Week. Central Michigan University students and faculty were invited to listen and ask questions to a panel "expert stutterers," or people who stutter. Also on the panel were professional speech pathologists and parents of children who stutter. 

Panelists ranged in age, from teenagers, college students, and adults. One panelist, 16-year-old Charlie Morton, has been partaking in these stuttering discussion panels since he was 8. Charlie described himself as a confident and charismatic young man, who doesn't let his stutter define him. His message to the audience was to not allow a individual's stutter define them. 

"For those who stutter, it's just a little bit of them. They're a person, just like you, and expect to be treated as such," he said.

There was also a wide range in panel members' ability to speak smoothly. Some went through whole sentences and conversations without any bumps, while some stuttered on every other word. 

One panelist, Russ Hicks, has stuttered since age 2, and displayed a stutter throughout most sentences during the night. However, when he spoke in a foreign accent, his words came out perfectly smooth. He demonstrated a smooth French accent to the audience, and explained that this occurred because stuttering is a neurological problem, not a psychological one. 

"When you talk in an accent, it comes from another part of the brain," Hicks said. 

Each of the panelists took a moment to contest to how grateful they were to CMU's Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders for treating them with therapy and helping them to become more comfortable with their stuttering.

"It has been an honor to work with all of these individuals," said Sue Woods, who is a professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and is a board-certified specialist in treating fluency disorders. "They are as persistent, courageous, and gritty as they come."

This was the 17th annual Stuttering Awareness Week hosted by the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. It was sponsored by the Association of Future Speech Pathologists.



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