Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Event brings awareness to stuttering

by HEATHER ROTH hroth@indianagazette.net on February 24, 2011 3:00 AM

It started as a class assignment.

But after Craig Coleman saw the stuttering-awareness ideas his speech pathology graduate students came up with, he thought it needed something more.

The class, at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, will pass out fliers, brochures and T-shirts highlighting information about stuttering from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday in the Hadley Union building on the IUP campus.

"Their ideas were so good that what we decided to do was blend them all together … to bring some awareness to the campus in general and the community in general," Coleman said.

Stuttering, according to Coleman, impacts one of every 100 adults, and even more children.

But the common idea that it is caused by mental or emotional issues is wrong, he said.

Rather, stuttering is caused largely by genetics, he said. And rather than cure it, people who stutter learn to manage it.

"It's like asthma, allergies or diabetes -- you can successfully manage them to where they don't have to have a huge impact on your life," he said.

With all the attention around Best Picture nominee "The King's Speech," stuttering has been more of a conversation topic, and Coleman said he wants to take advantage of that.

"Really a lot of people are talking about it but (are) still having a lot of questions about it," he said.

"The King's Speech" tells of King George VI's effort to overcome his own stutter in the 1930s.

Coleman said he hopes the awareness event will help answer questions and end misunderstandings about stuttering. But he also thinks it will help his students understand it even more.

Through research and preparing the filers and brochures, he said he thinks his students will cement what they already know about stuttering. But it will also help them learn that part of being a speech pathologist is reaching out to the community.

"I think this project has helped them really understand the lack of awareness that's out here," he said. "Their role (as speech pathologists) is to help educate the community as well."

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