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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

Stuttering, Inherited?

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 10th 2008

 It is estimated that some three million Americans stutter. In fact, some of our most famous newscasters and Hollywood stars stuttered. Among them are people such as John Stossel of ABC News Program, 20/20, actress Marylyn Monroe, popular singer Carly Simon, actors James Earl Jones, Harvey Keitel, Samuel L. Jackson and many more.

Today, what is know is that stuttering itself is not an emotional or psychological disorder. There was a time when it was thought that everything from anxiety, growing up bilingual, or having sexual frustrations and conflicts, caused stuttering. However, it is also true that having a stutter can and does cause emotional reactions such as low self esteem, anxiety and embarrassment about having to speak.

Science Daily, and it can be found at: http://www.sciencedaily.com

released information last week about the latest findings with regard to stuttering. Studies done in Israel and in the United States reveal that there may be a genetic cause for stuttering. Researchers, working under the National Institute for health, were able to identify areas on several chromosomes that indicated a genetic link to stuttering. It is hoped that specific genes for stuttering will be found and identified. These findings were reported in the American Journal of Human Genetics and the Journal of Communication Disorders.

Professor Ehud Yairi, a Professor at Tel Aviv University and in the Department of Communication Disorders at the University of Illinois, and who himself suffers from stuttering, states that it is important that parents identify their child's stuttering early and bring them to a speech pathologist. He discovered that there is a long history of stuttering in the male lineage of his family. 

I grew up with a number of friends who suffered from stuttering. At least one of them was fortunate that his stuttering disappeared during his twenties and that is not uncommon. However, I have also known people who continue to stutter to this day. It was always difficult for them to cope because both their friends and the adults in their lives had little patience with them. Also, they found the stuttering to be very frustrating.

Perhaps one of the worst experiences for the chronic stutterer is the lack of control they experience with it. This loss of control when they are in situations where they must verbally communicate shakes their self confidence and causes them to feel self conscious. Many of these feelings do not go away after they have recovered from the stutterer. Also, intense anxiety can cause a relapse back into stuttering.

It is important for parents to intervene quickly in this problem so that their child can learn, as much as possible, to overcome the stutter.

It is also important for parents to enlist the help and support of teachers and school officials in preventing the child from becoming a victim of teasing due to the stutter.

It is very hopeful that the specific genes for stuttering can be found. As I see it, there are two reasons for this:

1. Finding the genetic roots for stuttering will make clear to everyone that stuttering is not the fault of the stutterer, nor that he is doing it deliberately.

2. Identifying the specific gene involved will lead to new treatments and, hopefully, a permanent cure.

What are your experiences with this problem? Your comments are welcome.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at dransphd@aol.com for details.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    Stammering - Kamal - Oct 4th 2012

    Very helpful comments and reviews/suggestions, Well i am a father of 2 daughters and my younger daughter started stuttrering few months ago, her age is 4 years. well that might be possible the stuttrering is inherited, in my case i also stutter when i got stressed/panic, i do lack communicate with peoples, i avoid social activities but sometimes, i only join when i know where i could be relax.

    I wish there could be a treatment of this painful curse. It makes me worst when i see my daughter.

    Apology to not being good in english.

    I do pray for all who are suffering it.

    God bless you all.

    Another Singaporean Stutterer - Edmond Tay - Dec 15th 2009

    Wwwwelcome toootoo the Cccclub. Maybe we can form a Singapore Stuttering Group to help others with stuttering problem. You can email me at etayetay@singnet.com.sg  Edmond

    Singaporean and Chaozhou too - Another Singaporean Stutterer - Nov 6th 2009

    hi Edmond, quite surprised to see your comment as I'm Singaporean, ancestors from Chaozhou and Fujian, and I had a bad stutter for several of my childhood years too. Quite an effort to overcome it though i get bouts of it sometimes when I'm stressed or tired. My dad stutters.

    Most Neurological disorders are inherited - - Oct 1st 2009

    I believe strongly that most neurological disorders/diseases are inherited. There many kids with language/speech disorders/impediments, of all kinds, such as verbal apraxia, stuttering, slurring, upward tongue thrust(tongue comes forward when talking), receptive language disorders etc, etc,. Its sad that neurologist or speech pathologist will not tell the truth on this matter.However, some just don't know, which in some ways I let it slide, because doctors are talk to " treat" the condition and not cure, unless you are a holistic type of doctor. Think about it, when a Neurologist, Psychiatrist, or Speech Pathologist, ask " Do you have an in history with the current issue your child is experiencing", many say, no, but clearly are blinded, in denial or may not have any recollection of diseases/disorders stemming from their family.No wants to hear that the suffering that your child exudes could have possibly came from you.You don't know how many parents I talk with who have kids with speech/language disorders, and say " I don't know , where he or she get that from, I didn't have any speech problems."  So  they say,  if you observe a little longer, you will find these parents(either the father or mother) have intermittent stuttering, meaning they normal speech most of the time, but every now and then you hear stuttering, similar to a person who is intermittent strabismus(or cross-eye), they are are align normal most of the time , but sometimes become misaligned, which can be one eye going out, in, or up. Back to the subject, These parents may also talk fast or have people in their family that they may or not be aware who possess these traits. Because they parents only stutter sometime its hard to detect, unless you are one of those people who are very observant. I should know, I have a 3 year old who has speech/language issues. I can't tell you how hurt and heart breaking this is. Then I thought about, I sometimes talk fast, as well as stutter, but it happens when I'm excited, and upset. Its hard to tell I stutter or talk fast until you get acquainted with me, then you will notice. I notice myself, and its embarrassing and heart wrenching that my son have inherited my gene. Although, my occasional stutte or fast talk is different from my son its still similarly linked. Its just like you have MEDICAID AND PEACHCARE, WALMART, AND SAMS CLUB, BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD AND BLUE CHOICE....they all derived from the same place, just handled a little differently through operation of business. Its just like Autism, everyone want to blame the main cause on vaccines, and food and this and that. But, I'm here to shed the real truth, it is " GENETIC". Some parents with kids of autism may hate me for this, but I'm sorry. You have to understand, AUTISM is a neurological disorder, and most people who have kids with autism, bi-polar, any psychotic disorder, etc, etc, is all genetic. You don't know how many parents I know who kids have autism, and they have a family history of...... yep " Depression" which is a neurological disorder/disease. Let me explain in kindergarten terms, for example your great great grandmother had depression, you fast forward life and you have a child with autism, this stems from your genetic code. Its no different from an African American mother, who has a great great mother who was Irish with green eyes, she has three children, and only "1" has green eyes. People would wonder, where this " child of African Descent" get green eyes...... as I said, " Genes" the mother's  great great grandmother was Irish with green. This is why singers like African American celebrities such as  Rihanna, and Tyra have hazel-green eyes, the have ancestors of European descent.  Unfortunately, some people are more susceptible of inheriting different defects than others. Doctors need to tell the truth and stop being dishonest to parents, or if they aren't being dishonest "purposely" do more research.  But then you think, why would they tell you?  The same reason why they don't tell you that hormones and steroids in cow milk is harmful as well sodium hyroxide used in hair relaxers are also used in Drano, and Paint thinners. Many people say I should be a doctor and help people and expose the truth. I'm thankful for the suggestions, but the government probably will put me out of business and I couldn't deal with that type of stress.

    You have these business using celebrities, who already exude nice skin, to promote their products, when they have nice skin " genetically". The people watching really believe that this individual skin is from the product...it is sad.  The best advice I can offer, is become a proactive parent, take your son or daughter to therapy as well as work with them at home. I can't tell you have many parents send they child to therapy and then...that is it. They don't work with them,  and the result, is little or no improvement and they begin regress backwards to their orginal state. Itsa important to know you may go through many therapist until you find the one that best for your child, all therapist aren't the same. Its also  important to  seek treatment very early, don't wait until the public school teacher says something is wrong, or take them out of school because of embarrassment(kids need social interaction), get thet diagnoses from the neurologist. I also want to stress in getting at least 3 diagnoses from different neurologist. That way you can start the appropriate therapy for child, as well as make sure your son or daughter has what is being diagnosed. I know its hurts, but you will thank yourself in the long run that you didn't  wait so long. Your child will only suffer, when you do things like this. Ask questions, become involve, stay position and keep God first, and you will see improvement. Any questions please ask.  I wish everyone the best, and remember KNOWLEDGE is POWER. RESEARCH, REASEARCH RESERACH

    I am an ex-stutterer - Edmond Tay - Nov 15th 2008

    I am man of 59 years old and of Chinese descent first generation Singaporean. I started to stutter at the age of 8 and to this day have no clue how it all started. I was ridiculed,  teased and punished for stuttering which compounded the stuttering. At age 12 I decided to rid my speech impediment to speak normal again. It was a long process and in my twenties I saw some improvements with occasional relapses. Today I can stand and speak in public with no trace of stuttering.

    Regarding genetic influence, I have observed that the Chinese in my dialect group, the Chaozhou people speaks in a halting manner, different from the other dialects. I am not sure if it is culture or genes at play. Strangely, I also tend to stutter when speaking Chaozhou and not so in English.

    Today I am trained counselor and when I look back at how I had helped myself, I am amazed that without knowing I had employed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques to treat myself.

    Edmond Tay  http://divorcemarriage.blogspot.com/

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