Stuttering Caused by a Genetic Mutation
Stuttering has always been a fascinating phenomenon to me. Stuttering is a speech disorder where the person repeats or prolongs a sound and doesn't have a normal flow of speech. I have known severe "stutterers" who have undergone speech therapy without much help. There have been famous singers (Mel Tillis is one) who stuttered severely when they spoke, but not when they sang.
Now for the first time, a study led by researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, has identified three genes that they believe are involved in stuttering. Three million Americans stutter and until now the cause has been a mystery.
The researchers found the same gene mutation in unrelated families in the United States, Britain and Pakistan.
When I read about these discoveries that link disorders to genes it makes me feel a little sad. Like autism and bed wetting, doctors in the past would blame mothers and child rearing for these problems. Mothers were told autism occurred because they were distant and cold with their infants. Bed wetting was a lazy child. Stuttering was a child who was nervous or didn't have proper speech development at an early age. Clearly these theories are nuts and our ability to identify genes as the cause will finally let mothers off the hook.