'Stuttering Simulation' teaches students about speech impediments


A "Stuttering Simulation" event was held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25 in room 1255 of the Health Professions building. 

This program was filled with activities that allowed Central Michigan University students to learn more about the daily struggles that are faced by those who stutter. Students were able to partake in various speaking tasks which allowed them to experience a speaking situation that was outside their traditional speaking style. 

"I really want you to feel the mental strain," said Sue Woods before she began the first activity. Woods, a professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, facilitated all of the stuttering awareness events. 

Students began the evening with a speaking activity, in which they were instructed to discuss a certain topic. Their only rule: they could not say the words "and" or "the." Those who participated later discussed the mental strain it took, and how their inability to speak was similar to that of someone who stutters.

Next, Woods instructed participants to have a conversation with a partner, while mimicking a stutter. She stressed to the audience, which was mostly comprised of future speech pathologists, the importance of becoming comfortable with stuttering.

"Learning to stutter is an important clinical technique, so that clients can see you stutter and figure out that they don't need a huge negative reaction to it," said Woods. 

The night was wrapped up with "Stuttering Jeopardy," a  game filled with facts and myths about stuttering. 

One common myth about stuttering, Woods said, is that it helps to tell a person to simply "take a deep breath before talking," or "think about what you want to say first." 

In reality, this advice only makes a person more self-conscious, making the stuttering worse. More helpful responses include listening patiently and modeling slow and clear speech yourself.

"Stuttering is perhaps the most recognized, yet most misunderstood communication condition," Woods said. 

This was the 17th annual "Stuttering Awareness Week" held by the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, which has always been held near International Stuttering Awareness Day (Oct. 22). The Stuttering Simulation was sponsored by the Association of Future Speech Language Pathologists, who led the activities throughout the night. 

Preceding Wednesday's event was a "Clinical Observation" night, held Tuesday, Oct. 25. Students were invited to observe experienced clinicians provide therapy to individuals who stutter and learn more about techniques that professional speech pathologists use. 

A panel discussion will follow the Stuttering Simulation at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 in the Kiva Theater in Moore Hall. This discussion will feature "expert stutterers," or individuals who stutter and will talk about their experiences with stuttering.