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Organizations: The Stuttering Foundation

 

The Stuttering Foundation does not get many walk-ins at its office in St. Simons, but occasionally someone does ring the doorbell.

“Today a man walked in off the sidewalk and said, ‘I’m 66 years old, and I’ve stuttered all of my life, and I just noticed your sign out front and thought you might help me,’” says Jane Fraser, president of the foundation, the first and largest nonprofit charitable organization in the world working toward the prevention and treatment of stuttering. “You’re never too old or too late to get help for this issue, which is so widely misunderstood.”

Anxiety plays a role, but it is not the sole cause for stuttering, she says, explaining that the speech disorder is a complex condition involving neurological motor control. Her father, Malcolm Fraser, stuttered severely and established the foundation in 1947, when he was 44.

The group supports research into genetic causes and social triggers for stuttering and also provides training programs and many free online resources, books and videotapes for parents, teachers, pediatricians and speech pathology professionals.

 “Often pediatricians reassure parents that a child will outgrow it, and some do,” Fraser says. “Many do not, however, but there are ways to help children and young adults overcome stuttering.”

About one percent of the population stutters, including an estimated 100,000 people in Georgia. Leaders and celebrities who have stuttered include Winston Churchill, James Earl Jones, Carly Simon and Marilyn Monroe, and more recently, vocalist Lazaro Arbus, who dazzled on “American Idol.”

The Stuttering Founda-tion has reached 136 countries, Fraser says, and distributed almost 200 packets of materials to Georgians so far this year.

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