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In New PSAs, Advocate Taro Alexander Reflects on His Life as a Person Who Stutters

“I did a lot of not talking.”

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(Rockville, MD – May 11, 2020) Speaking from the heart and from personal experience, leading stuttering advocate Taro Alexander offers inspiration to young people who stutter—and education to young people who don’t—in new public service announcements (PSAs) being released today, the beginning of National Stuttering Awareness Week, by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young.

The PSAs draw from Alexander’s own experiences growing up as a person who stutters. He is the founder of SAY and the 2019 recipient of the Annie Glenn Award, ASHA’s highest public honor. The award recognizes prominent individuals who make a positive difference to those with communication disorders. It is named for Annie Glenn, wife of late astronaut and Senator John Glenn. Mrs. Glenn struggled with—and eventually overcame—a severe stutter, transforming into a tireless advocate for people with communication disorders.

In new PSAs from @ashaweb & @sayorg, advocate Taro Alexander reflects on his life as a person who stutters  

In one of the newly released PSAs, Alexander poignantly recounts the loneliness he felt as a young person. “I didn’t meet anyone else who stuttered until I was around 26 years old,” he recalls, “so I grew up feeling really alone and isolated and felt a lot of shame about being a person who stutters.” He continues: “I did a lot of not talking, I did a lot of leaving the classroom just before it was time for me to speak.”

Another PSA features Alexander encouraging young people who stutter: “Who you are, right now, and the way that you talk, right now, is okay. And it is okay to be a person who stutters.” Support is available, he emphasizes. “There are a lot of wonderful organizations, wonderful people, and wonderful speech-language pathologists out there who really do “get” stuttering and who know what stuttering is all about. And so if you’re out there and you’re feeling like you’re the only person in the world who stutters, I’m here to tell you that you’re not.”

In yet another PSA, Alexander stresses being understanding and showing kindness toward people who stutter. “You may change that person’s life.”

Coinciding with the release of the PSAs is the availability of an ASHA-developed digital toolkit for use by Association members, educators, and anyone else to educate about and promote understanding of stuttering. Available here, the resource includes shareable graphics with information about the causes, risk factors, and treatment options for stuttering.

For more information about stuttering and to find treatment, visit www.asha.org/stuttering.

CONTACT:
Joseph Cerquone
703-973-7744
jcerquone@asha.org