Breaking Down Barriers and Building Up Confidence: The Role of the Speech Pathologist

  • Full-Size Image: National Stuttering Awareness Day
  • Full-Size Image: Paul Blanchet, Ph.D.
    Paul Blanchet, Ph.D.. Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders for Baylor University
Oct. 17, 2022

Media Contact: Kelly Craine, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-297-9065
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WACO, Texas (Oct. 17, 2022) – Stuttering is a complex disorder that most people know about, but few understand. Each year on Oct. 22, International Stuttering Awareness Day raises public awareness of stuttering, which affects more than 70 million people around the world and three million in the United States. This special global commitment focuses on education, prevention, resources and research to find the causes of stuttering.

Paul Blanchet, Ph.D., associate professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Baylor University’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, has made it his mission to remove the myths and stigma surrounding stuttering. As a certified speech-language pathologist and a stutterer himself, Blanchet understands the everyday challenges this disorder can cause and the complexity of working with clients to help them achieve their full potential.

With primary research areas in fluency disorders, motor speech disorders and the scholarship of teaching and learning, Blanchet also specifically focuses his research on how people perceive stuttering, which highlights how individuals who stutter must not only learn communications skills but also overcome the unconscious bias stuttering can cause.

For example, in a recent scenario, Blanchet asked two sets of students to view the same video presentation. One group was told that the speaker stuttered and the other was not. The group that knew the speaker stuttered rated the speaker significantly more positively in speaking skills and personal characteristics. This knowledge is invaluable for people who stutter and the speech therapists who work with them.

“Everything changes because now the person knows why you're hesitating.” Blanchet said. 

Blanchet learned in graduate school that stuttering is not a speech problem but a human problem.

The challenge for speech therapists is to not only work on the physical aspects of stuttering but to help clients develop strategies to thrive in a world that doesn’t always understand them.

“Not being able to speak affects your whole life,” Blanchett said. “We deal with the whole human, including how to deal with the emotional response of stuttering.”

People who stutter have traditionally focused on hiding their stutter, fearing they would be labeled negatively as unreliable or incompetent. Blanchet’s research demonstrates that with one simple but powerful act, people who stutter can build their confidence and change the way others view them.  Acknowledging up front that they are a person who stutters helps them feel more comfortable and encourages more positive communication.

Baylor’s Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) department integrates academic excellence, clinical experiences, research and service to the community. CSD provides seven clinics that serve the community and provide clinical education that prepares undergraduate and graduate students in the field:

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

ABOUT ROBBINS COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SCIENCES AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

The Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences at Baylor University was established in 2014, a result of identified priorities for strengthening the health sciences through Baylor’s strategic vision, Pro Futuris, and the University’s Illuminate strategic plan. The anchor academic units that form Robbins College – Communication Sciences and Disorders; Human Sciences and Design; Health, Human Performance and Recreation; Occupational Therapy; Physical Therapy; Public Health; and Division of Health Professions – share a common purpose: improving health and quality of life. The College’s curricula promotes a team-based approach to transformational education and research that has established interdisciplinary research collaborations to advance solutions for improving quality of life for individuals, families and communities. For more information, visit baylor.edu/chhs.

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