By Kelsea Willenbrock | Reporter
About 1 percent of the world’s population struggles with some form of stuttering, according to the Stuttering Foundation. That is over 3 million people in the United States alone.
A local stutter support group just began its second year meeting together, in hopes of bringing together those with similar struggles.
The group is open to anyone affected in some way by stuttering. It could be a parent or a friend of someone who stutters, or the person themselves. The group is available to Baylor students and faculty and anyone in the greater Waco community. Similar groups meet in the Dallas and Austin area, according to Dr. Paul Blanchet, associate professor in the communication sciences and disorders department.
“It is for the whole community,” said Morgan Jones, Frisco master’s candidate in the department of communication sciences and disorders. “We have fliers up all over Waco, even in Hewitt. We are trying to get the word out.”
In fall 2015, Blanchet started the support group, and they met three times that semester and then three times in the spring. A typical group meeting consists of several games to get the group comfortable talking and interacting with one another, followed by a topic related to stuttering and discussion about how each person deals with it individually.
“We have things planned, but we are flexible,” Blanchet said. “Eventually, what I would like to see happen is the group to take on a life of its own.”
Blanchet said he hopes to see the group continue to grow and take advantage of the opportunity they have to learn from one another. He said this could manifest as taking trips as a group or meeting on a more regular basis.
The number of group members fluctuate as new people join at each meeting. People of all ages and backgrounds take part in the stutter support group, which makes for diverse and interesting conversations.
Blanchet said most support groups are geared toward a certain age group or demographic. Blanchet and Jones want their group to be open to whomever wants to join.
“It is a comfortable space to speak,” Blanchet said.
Even though the stutter support group is still new, a community between regular attenders is already starting to form.
“After a while, we all got comfortable with each other, everyone loosened up, we have fun and we have good conversations,” Jones said. “Every time I go, I look forward to it.”
The first meeting of the fall semester was at 7 p.m. Thursday in the communication sciences and disorders clinic on the first floor of the Cashion Academic Center. The group plans to meet several more times throughout the school year.