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Famous People Who Stutter and How They Overcome it

It is estimated that three million people in the United States stutter, and that number is on the rise. While anyone can stutter, it tends to occur more often in men than women. It usually starts during childhood or adolescence. Despite the rise of stuttering, there is a lot of misunderstanding and stigma attached to it. Many people with a stutter are looked down upon as being unintelligent or less capable than their peers. But this isn’t always the case! Many famous people have struggled with stuttering throughout their lives. Some have even turned their struggles into successes.


In this article we will discuss:


man in front of the microphone

But first, what is Stuttering?

Stuttering is an involuntary interruption to the flow of talking. This can occur in different ways:

  1. Prolongations (or stretching sounds) “That fffffffish is swimming.”

  2. Blocks “I…….I like vanilla.”

  3. Repeating sounds or syllables, e.g. “B b b but it’s my turn.”

  4. Repeating words, e.g. “Can can can I be next?”

Stuttering usually begins between 2 and 4 years of age. Stuttering will emerge when children begin to put words together in short sentences. The onset of stuttering may be gradual or sudden. Other children goes to bed speaking fluently but wakes up the next morning stuttering quite severely. The severity of stuttering will vary from child to child. Typically, children will begin stuttering by repeating words such as “I, I, I like that one” or “Can, can, can I have a drink?” Over time the stuttering may change and begin to include prolongations and blocks. Some children will also display signs of tension and struggle.


Children may react to stuttering with statements such as “Mommy, I can’t talk.” They can also show gestures of frustration such as foot-stomping. Others will go on speaking unconcerned. The severity and type of stuttering may vary in different situations and from person to person. Interruptions to the flow of speech may be accompanied by signs of tension and struggle, as well as fear, embarrassment, and anxiety. In some cases, stuttering can dominate a person’s view of themselves and their social and work relationships.


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Famous people who stutter

There are many famous people who stutter and have overcome their stutter. While stuttering is often seen as a hindrance, they saw it as an opportunity to be succesful. Here are a few examples:

John Stearns

A former MLB catcher, John Stearns was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1970. He went on to play for several teams during his 15-year career. Despite being one of the famous people with a stutter, Stearns became known for his strong leadership skills. He was even named the captain of the New York Mets in 1984.

Emily Blunt

A Golden Globe-winning actress has starred in popular films. She is seen in movies such as The Devil Wears Prada, The Five-Year Engagement, and Edge of Tomorrow. As a child, Blunt was so self-conscious about her stutter. She would avoid speaking whenever possible. She eventually overcame her stutter through stuttering therapy and has now found success in Hollywood.


James Earl Jones

One of the most iconic voices in film, James Earl Jones. He is best known for his roles as Darth Vader in Star Wars and Mufasa in The Lion King. What many people don’t know is that he also struggled with a severe stutter as a child. He didn’t start speaking regularly until he was in college. But he has since gone on to have an illustrious career in both film and stage.

Ed Sheeran

This Grammy-winning singer and songwriter has achieved massive success. With his hits such as “Shape of You” and “Thinking Out Loud.” Sheeran has been open about his struggles with stuttering! He goes saying that he was teased mercilessly as a child. He credits his love of music with helping him to overcome his stutter and find his voice. Despite being a famous people with a stutter, Ed Sheeran became so successful!


Tiger Woods

One of the most successful golfers of all time! Tiger Woods has achieved many career milestones. He has spoken about how his stutter only occurs when he is tired, but that it doesn’t affect his golf game.


Joe Biden

The current Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden! He has been open about his struggles with stuttering. He says that he used to write speeches out in advance. He even practices them over and over again to be able to deliver them without stumbling over his words.


famous people with a stutter

King George VI

The subject of the 2010 film The King’s Speech, King George VI! He overcame a severe stutter to deliver a radio address during World War II. He was one of the famous people with a stutter who was helped by speech therapist Lionel Logue. Lionel used unorthodox techniques to help the king gain confidence in his abilities.


While these famous people have all overcome their stutters, there are many more who are still struggling. If you or someone you know struggles with stuttering, know that there is hope. With hard work and dedication, many people have been able to overcome their stutter!


The psychological impact of stuttering

Stuttering can have a significant impact on a person’s life! But, it is important to remember that it does not define who they are. There are many famous people who stutter! Yet, they have gone on to lead successful and fulfilling lives. If you or someone you know is struggling with stuttering, know that there is hope and help available.


Songs about stuttering

Songs about stuttering

Ed Sheeran reported that he overcame his stuttering by singing songs regularly. Here are some popular songs about stuttering:


  1. “Stutter” by Maroon 5;

  2. “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly

  3. “Beat It” by Michael Jackson

  4. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem

  5. “Overcome” by Christina Aguilera

These songs about stuttering show that even though stuttering can be difficult, it is possible to overcome it! If you or someone you know is struggling with stuttering, don’t give up hope. There are many resources and people who can help. Singing songs about stuttering will help you gain more confidence! It can also give you strength to overcome the struggles of having a stutter.


Evaluation of Stuttering

For children or adults with stuttering, it is very important to be aware and act upon the first signs of any stuttering behavior. The most common and recognized behaviors are:

  1. Repetition of sounds, syllables, or words (e.g., “I I I want want want to to to go go go outside”

  2. Prolongation of sounds (e.g., s-s-s-s-s-s-stop)

  3. Blocks, which is when a person is unable to produce a sound for several seconds (this can be accompanied by tension and struggling)

The above three behaviors are typical of what people think of when they hear the word “stutter.” However, many people with stuttering also use various strategies or “tricks” to avoid or mask their stuttering.

Some common strategies are:

  1. Circumlocution, or roundabout talking (e.g., “What I mean to say is…”)

  2. Substituting words (e.g., using “car” instead of “motor vehicle”)

  3. omitting words (e.g., saying “going for a run” instead of “I’m going for a run”

  4. Adding extra words (e.g., saying “um” or “you know”)

  5. Changing the word order of phrases (e.g., saying “a green car” instead of “the car is green”)

People who stutter may use one or more of these strategies all the time, or only in certain situations. It is important to remember that everyone is different and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to stutter. Some people with stuttering find that using strategies help them feel more comfortable. Especially when they start feeling in control of their disfluencies. Others prefer not to use them.


Treatment for stuttering

Treatment for Stuttering

Like famous people who stutter, there is hope for those who struggle with this speech disorder. There is no “cure” for stuttering. But, there are many different treatment for stuttering available! It can help lessen the frequency and severity of stuttering. Speech therapy is one of the most common treatment for stuttering. A speech therapist can work with you or your child to help them become more aware of their stutter and learn techniques to manage it.


For help to stop stuttering, adults can start with one of these 3 techniques:

  1. Meditative Breathing. The core of meditation is breathing. Focusing on your breathing can be a strong foundation for helping you or other adults stop stuttering. Work on staying centered at the moment. And, like a singer works to control their breath, by working on your breathing you can help to slow down your speech and work on your focus.

  2. Power Pauses. The idea is to insert small pauses into your sentences where you might otherwise be running into more difficult words. Often, by pausing, you will be able to think ahead of your phrasing. As you become more practiced at pausing, you can work on creating phrases that can be more fluent for you and can often help you appear more thoughtful.

  3. Reluctant Recording. Yes, we know how much you love to hear your own voice recorded and played back to you because we feel the same way. Many public speakers secretly cringe at the sound of their own voice, too! But this is such an important way to better understand where you are having issues. In this way, you can learn your speech patterns and measure your progress.


Other treatment for stuttering include:

  1. Electronic devices. There are some electronic devices that can be used to help people with stuttering. These devices can provide feedback to help the user modulate their speech. It can even produce words for them.

  2. Counseling. Sometimes, a person stutters due to anxiety. Counseling can help people who stutter deal with the anxiety and frustration.

  3. Medication. There are some medications that can be effective in treating stuttering. These include anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and beta-blockers.

If you or someone you know struggles with stuttering, don’t hesitate to seek help. At Better Speech, we offer online speech therapy services convenient for you and tailored to your child's individual needs. Our services are affordable and effective - get Better Speech now.


 

About the Author

Mikee Larrazabal


I am a Speech-Language Pathologist with 14 years of experience working with children and adults who have communication difficulties. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science at Cebu Doctors' University and have been helping people overcome their communication challenges ever since.


I have worked with individuals of different ages, including toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, adults and seniors. I'm passionate about speech therapy and take great satisfaction in helping people overcome their communication challenges and improve their lives through better communication skills. In my spare time I like reading books, going hiking in nature and taking care of my dog Locas.

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