Friday, February 12, 2010

B-B-BIG News

I like surprises, so it made my day when a genetic link to stuttering was announced this week. Always looked like near total environmental stuff to me. But more about that later.

Researchers found a large Pakistani family with a history of intermarriage and stuttering. The DNA tests were indisputable. A vast majority of the stutterers shared the same sequence, while most of the non-stutterers didn't have that sequence. A genetic indicator for predisposition for stuttering has been identified.

My reasons for thinking stuttering is strictly environmental? Well, most stutterers are male, most grow out of it, and the pathology is so diverse. Working in reverse...

Some stutterers hang on only one sound. More commonly it's hard sounds, like K-B-T, but there are plenty who hang on F-S-M. Other stutterers only hang at the end word of a thought, despite it's sound. And some hang on first word of a thought. So it's a quite diverse pattern.

Most grow out of it, even in the pre-Speech Pathologist days. And majority of stutterers are male. So I always put this together as a strictly psychological thing. I figured this is one response when a sensitive personality is placed in gender expected role of assertiveness.

Turns out, I was wrong. There is also a genetic factor in stuttering.

People don't think often enough, what a disability stuttering can be. It's so easy to take for granted, the ability to string words together without stammering. How many have wonderful things to say, but can't get the words out?

Really it's almost as bad as blindness or deafness. Oh, hmmmm. I should name a famous stutterer and end on a surprise. OK then, Marilyn Monroe was a stutterer. Yeah, really.

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