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The Best of Our Knowledge

The Best of Our Knowledge # 1082




"The King's Speech" won major awards this year including Academy Award Oscars and Golden Globes. The movie depicted British King George's struggle with stuttering. The awards were important because they helped focus attention on the stuttering issue.

According to Jane Fraser, President of The Stuttering Foundation, one in 20 children stutter at some point. And one in 100 go on to a lifetime of stuttering. A reported 68-million people around the world stutter.

Another way to interpret these figures, about 5% of preschoolers are affected by the speech disorder at some point in their language development, and it leaves 1% or more than 3-million American adults permanently struggling to speak. It can change lives by reducing educational studies, and altering career paths where vocal communication is less necessary.

Listeners to this program may remember earlier stories we broadcast featuring life-long stutterer and television news reporter, John Stossel, who has still managed a successful career involving public speaking.

Well, hundreds of people who stutter attended a recent National Stuttering Association conference in Cleveland, Ohio. A question arose - - should people who stutter seek treatment from speech pathologists who themselves stutter? Some people felt that speech pathologists who stutter have empathy and a perspective that other therapists do not.

In this report from the Midwest, TBOOK finds out the path to success can be full of doubt and discouragement.

Dan Bobkoff reports. (6:09)


Some new findings were discussed at a research symposium on stuttering held recently in Washington, D.C. during the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). They suggest that educators are just beginning to understand the interconnected causes of stuttering.

Anne Smith, Director of Purdue University's Speech Neurophysiology Lab, says researchers no longer believe the root of stuttering lies with any one problem.

Smith is quoted in "Education Week" as saying "The casual factors are many: linguistic cognitive psychosocial and genetic there are a number of underlying factors and it's the way they interact that produces stuttering."

Meanwhile, Dr. Dennis Drayna, Director of The Stuttering Foundation and researcher for the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, has announced the discovery of three Genes for stuttering. Stuttering Foundation President, Jane Fraser, calls the "research important because it's another indication that emotional factors such as anxiety or bad parenting do not cause stuttering." She hopes it could also point the way for a cure one day.

Birmingham, Alabama resident, Les Lovoy, recalls for us his own personal journey of how he beat stuttering, and how others are coping with the disorder.

Les Lovoy reports. (5:42)

*(Attention Listeners! For additional information about The Stuttering Foundation, visit: www.stutteringhelp.org .)*


Now, we turn our attention to language problems of a different kind.

When Poland gained membership into the European Union in 2004, a large chunk of its population left to work in Britain and Ireland.

Now, as the economies in those countries slow, many Poles are returning home. But they face some problems, not the least of which is that many of their children are unable to speak Polish.

TBOOK finds out in this report from Warsaw that it's become such a concern, even the Polish government is getting involved.

Radio Netherlands Dave McGuire reports. (3:45)



This week's Academic Minute professor looks at the brain of an octopus, through the eyes of a philosopher.

Dr. Peter Godfrey-Smith is a Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University.

The Academic Minute is hosted by Dr. Lynn Pasquerella, a celebrated philosopher and medical ethicist, and President of Mount Holyoke College.

Segment Run Time: (2:30)

*(Attention Listeners! For more Academic Minutes, we invite you to visit our archives at: http://www.wamc.org/academic-minute.html .)*