On Monday October 15, 2018, on his show Steve, Steve Harvey had an interaction with a woman in his audience who stutters. We commend Steve for tackling stuttering on television, and specifically for sharing his own experience with stuttering. If more people spoke openly about stuttering, constructively, the condition would be normalized and we’d all be better off. However, Harvey asserted that stuttering is curable, and told the woman that if she did as he advised, her stuttering would disappear.

As of now, there is no known cure for stuttering.

  • Stuttering is a neurodevelopmental condition with genetic roots for which currently there is no cure.
  • Stuttering is not a psychological problem. Certainly, it can have psychological ramifications, for example, anxiety, embarrassment, fear, shame, and sadness. But at the core, stuttering is a neurologically based disorder.
  • Anticipation (knowing you’re going to stutter before you actually do) does not cause stuttering.
  • Maintaining eye contact does not cause stuttering.
  • Not all therapists are unqualified. In fact, many speech-language pathologists stutter, and many more understand the experience of stuttering and anticipating stuttering.

Some people who stutter may find that certain techniques help them speak with more ease and fluency, but the kind of miracle that Steve Harvey promises in this clip does not exist. What’s more, false information and claims like the ones Harvey makes are dangerous to spread on a public platform, contributing to the lack of understanding around stuttering. While Harvey may have found a set of techniques that make it easier for him to speak, it is irresponsible, unscientific, and stigmatizing for him to suggest that these methods can “cure” someone. Harvey and the NBC Network have an obligation to provide viewers with factual information about stuttering. We at FRIENDS hope that Harvey takes more care in the future about spreading misinformation and false hope around stuttering. FRIENDS would be honored to assist in the mission to better educate viewers on the complex nature of stuttering and would like to suggest that members of FRIENDS appear on Harvey’s show to share their stuttering experiences and expertise.

Steve Harvey is an inspiration to many people who stutter because he found success despite being challenged with stuttering. We urge Steve Harvey to continue talking about stuttering, but to be careful about misrepresenting what we know about the stuttering experience. Many people who stutter take pride in the way that they speak, and lead full lives because of, not in spite of, their stuttering. We appreciate Harvey’s encouraging words to the audience member in the clip, and ask him to explore how people who stutter find hope and power by stuttering freely and openly.

FRIENDS is a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing support and education to young people who stutter, their families, and professionals, through annual conferences, one-day workshops, and outreach. Our vision is to help build a world in which all young people who stutter feel empowered to communicate whenever, wherever, and however they want to. Our annual national conference will take place in Chicago July 18th–20th, 2019, and we invite Mr. Harvey and the young woman featured on his show to attend the convention as our guests, meet the young people involved in FRIENDS, and see how support and empowerment can change the lives of people who stutter.

For further information contact Lee Caggiano: lee@friendswhostutter.org

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