Tiger Woods sheds light on stuttering
Tiger Woods may be world-famous for winning 14 major golf championships, but few know about his efforts to overcome stuttering until he opened up in a letter to a high school student named Dillon.
Woods wrote a letter to the high school athlete after learning that he was feeling discouraged because he was bullied for stuttering.
“I know what it’s like to be different and to sometimes not fit in,” Woods said in the letter. “I also stuttered as a child and I would talk to my dog and he would sit there and listen until he fell asleep. I also took a class for two years to help me, and I finally learned to stop.”
Approximately 70 million people stutter worldwide, which is about 1 percent of the population, According to the Stuttering Foundation of America. In the U.S., over 3 million Americans stutter.
Suruchi Ghode, a pediatric speech pathologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., shares answers to some common questions parents ask about stuttering:
I think my child is beginning to stutter. Should I wait or seek help?
A parent who suspects their child is stuttering should contact a speech language pathologist and seek out an evaluation. While stuttering can be developmental in nature and resolved on its own, a speech pathologist can assist a family in determining whether or not this is the case, and if there are any strategies that the parents can implement at home.
It is very important for those who stutter to seek out treatment. We have had several children in our pediatric therapy department at Advocate Children’s Hospital who have benefited from taking part in speech therapy to address stuttering.
Is stuttering diagnosed in males more than females?
Stuttering is diagnosed more in males. In younger children the ratio of stuttering disorders is 2 to 1 (male vs. female). In older children and adults, the ratio of stuttering is 4 to 1.
Is stuttering caused by emotional or psychological problems?
There is no research to support that emotional trauma or psychological problems are the cause of stuttering. It is believed that there are strong genetic components to stuttering. Approximately 60 percent of people who stutter have a family member who also stutters.
Can stuttering be treated?
It is very important for those who stutter to seek out treatment. Speech therapy typically focuses on education regarding stuttering, strategies to improve fluency and decrease tension, overall communication skills, and emotional aspects related to stuttering.
Woods has only publicly opened up about his speech condition one other time when he was interviewed on CBS’s 60 minutes in 2006. He explained that hard work and a competitive spirit helped him to overcome childhood stuttering.
Woods also concluded in the letter saying “but, I didn’t let that stop me, and I think it even inspired me to work harder. I know you can do that too.”
Other celebrities who have stuttered include King George VI, Emily Blunt, Ed Sheeran, Tim Gunn, Vice President Joe Biden, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Bruce Willis and Bill Walton, to name a few.
To learn more about stuttering, visit Advocate Health Care’s speech therapy page.
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