October 22 – Stuttering Awareness and Smart Appreciation

Posted on October 22, 2014

Today is a great “S” two-fer:

  1. It is International Stuttering Awareness Day.
  2. It is also Smart is Cool Day.

If you see sea-green clothes or ribbons today, look again, because it may be someone celebrating International Stuttering Awareness Day. (“Stuttering” is called “stammering” in the U.K.)

Stuttering (stammering) is a speech disorder in which the person repeats certain syllables or words. Sometimes, instead of repeating the syllables, the person with a stutter prolongs certain syllables or leaves out certain syllables.

Stress or tiredness can make stuttering worse, and stuttering sometimes eases when the speaker is relaxed. However, stuttering doesn't necessarily mean the speaker is nervous.

This movie is about
a king who stammered.
People who stutter want you to know that the speech disorder doesn't indicate a lack of intelligence, and that they are just trying to communicate—to be heard, to be understood—just like anyone else. 

If you are talking to someone who begins to stutter, focus on the message rather than how it is being delivered. Breathe deeply and be patient, and your calm attitude will help the person who is stuttering.

Here are some things you should NOT do when talking to a person who is stuttering:

  • Don't try to finish the person's sentences or fill in missing words. Even though you are trying to be helpful, this is perceived as impatience and could actually make the stuttering worse. Plus, you might make incorrect assumptions about what the person is saying. Let the person who is stuttering finish.
  • I thought this saying was great, so I am
    including it here (even though it was
    created for Stuttering Awareness Week,
    not I.S.A. Day).
    Don't look away or try to escape the conversation. You may feel awkward or embarrassed, but just think how the person who is stuttering feels! Why make the situation worse? You are in a conversation with a human being who is worthy of respect; focus on the meaning of his or her words, and the humanity of your conversationalist, rather than your own embarrassment.
  • Obviously, don't tease, mock, mimic, or bully a person who is stuttering.

Check out this website—there is a good short video called “Let Me Finish,” and there is a really loooong list of people, past and present, who stuttered/stammered. 

I don't know what to look for in regards to today's other holiday: Smart Is Cool Day. There are all kinds of different groups pushing the “Smart Is Cool” message—some are limited to women and girls trying to reach young girls with the message, and others are made up of men and women trying to reach boys and girls.

In Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote the immortal words, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Nowadays, you might hear someone quote him with words like, “Thou doth protest too much.” That means that if you have to emphatically insist that you do not do such-and-such, the rest of us suspect that, in fact, you do exactly that. People who insist, “I'm not racist, but...” might be racist. People who go on and on and on about how much they hate gossip might be guilty of gossiping, themselves.

I wonder if smart people wandering around trying to convince others that Smart Is Cool is a good idea. I mean, if you were really cool, you wouldn't be saying you were cool...right?

But I think that this is an important message to tell little kids. All adults everywhere know that being smart – being able to remember important stuff and being able to figure things out – helps you in your life in a million ways. But when kids are little, they sometimes learn to hide how smart they are.

Now why would that be?

I think it is because schools are generally set up to be competitive, and someone who is “a brain” – someone who learns to read early, or quickly learns complicated math concepts – can cause the rest to get lower grades when teachers grade “on the curve.” Kids' test scores, assignment grades, and grade point averages are frequently compared by the teachers, school administrators, parents, and the students themselves, and sometimes high marks result in teasing, bullying, or anger rather than praise and respect. Many kids learn NOT to stand out—and this especially happens to girls when they are in their early teens.

Today's little girls can look around and spot
some very smart women who are successful
and popular...such as The Big Bang Theory's
Mayim Bialik.
In his naval training, my nephew found that all the students' scores were added to one another, so the young adults in his unit were always super happy when he (or any other sailor) did well. They weren't competing with one another, but rather were supporting each other in their efforts to do well together. That sort of training made it clear that smart is cool – no posters or mottos needed.

I've known thousands and thousands of kids in my life, and they all seem pretty darned smart to me. I know that, with all their varied interests and special talents, kids should be finding their passions and developing their gifts and being as smart as they can be – and I think that less testing, fewer grades, and less competition is an important step into making sure that kids really know that smart IS cool!

Also on this date:

Free Speech Week (October 20 - 26) 

Plan ahead:

Check out my Pinterest boards for:
And here are my Pinterest boards for:

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