OPINION: Biden’s Stutter Isn’t A Problem, But Banning People From Asking About It Is

After a series of poor phrasing, verbal missteps, and explosive behavior on the campaign trail, peers and voters have expressed concern about former Vice President Joe Biden’s mental acuity. By way of an explanation, Biden has begun sharing his heartbreaking story about growing up with a stutter.

The bright spot is this has started a long-overdue discussion about the challenges of those who stutter. Wherever you may fall on the spectrum of beliefs about the former vice president’s mental acuity, his stutter is not the problem.

Approximately 3 million people in the United States have a stutter, the specific cause of which is still largely unknown. Psychologically, stutterers are at greater risk for a range of social and emotional issues with higher levels of social anxiety.

As both a speech pathologist and mental health therapist, I thought I might shed some light on the matter. Although I have treated individuals who stuttered, I do not speak for either the speech pathology or mental health communities. Anything I offer is educated speculation and not in any way diagnostic.

Making fun of someone who stutters is never okay. It’s also never a good idea to politicize a disorder to protect someone’s behavior. While Biden may not blame his gaffes on his stutter, others are making that argument for him — if not overtly, certainly tacitly. This is the problem.

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