Stuttering: The Brain

There are speech centers in both the left brain and the right brain.  It appears that one becomes primary and the stutterer is fluent when in the right brain.  Bad early childhood experiences such as fear and humiliation will put him into the left brain in order to access the functions of  self protection.  When there however, he  hears himself speak with a time lag.  The time lag is similar to one when calling into a talk show with the radio on… it’s very confusing.  Repetitive word stuttering is a mechanism to gain time to get back to the right brain speech center and the blocking form of stuttering is when he is caught on the bridge between left and right brain, the Corpus Callosum.

When speaking his first concern is to avoid the blocking  and within split seconds, he assess the audience’s nuance toward him from the framework of  ‘am I safe?’  In the same second, he is thinking of what he’s going to say, evaluating the word for possible blockage and finding a substitute word that means exactly the same thing.

Stutterers are in reality brilliant and if they were not inclined that way, the mechanics of stuttering creates the skills needed for brilliance.

Most stutterers can eventually pass as fluent, unless someone or something ‘outs’ them.  Then all is lost.  In their mind, they are always at the edge of that cliff.

An otherwise severe stutterer becomes fluent while singing, acting, speaking to large groups, speaking while concentrating on a right brain task such as sports or painting and retelling stories with exactly the same words because these are all completely right brain functions.  You will see this in the list of famous stutterers below.

Stuttering: Helping Your Child

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER  allow anyone to  tell the child to “Speak slower.” and “Think of what you want to say.”  Saying this to a child who stutters is  doing complete and permanent damage.  The stutterer must be taught to speak fast.  Faster than his quick brain is problem solving.  This makes the attempt to find another word impossible and he learns to remain in the right brain where he is fluent.

  • Don’t allow anyone to say anything to him about his speech.
  • Don’t make him feel like he’s a problem.
  • Watch him for a few weeks.  Learn what triggers it.
  • Remove the triggers from his life if you can.  If he is bullied in school, take him out.  Give him Karate lessons.
  • Sing songs with him or put him into a singing group.
  • Play games with him to see who can talk the fastest.
  • Play talking  in a sing-song voice.
  • Learn another language with him, one with words that flow into each other like French.

Children Who Stutter. What to do.

Thirty percent of all children stutter at some point in childhood.  I believe that what happens to them at this period either ends it or commits it to a lifetime.

My son spoke fluently until he was 3.  He then began to stutter in both ways, repeating parts of words and complete blocking.  I forbid everyone in the family from saying anything about his speech to him, kept him close to home and watched him for 3 months.  Finally, I sat him down one day and, face to face said to him:  “Josh, there’s a right way to talk and a wrong way to talk.  The right way is to say everything only once.  Daddy talks right, talk like him.  I talk wrong, don’t talk like me.  Uncle Hersh talks wrong, don’t talk like him.  Aunt Shirley talks right, talk like her.  Grandpa Albert talks wrong, don’t talk like him.”  … and on and on covering everyone he knew.  Josh said:  “Oh.”  and he went outside to play.  He never did that form of stuttering again.

He still did the blocking form and it was severe.  I watched when it became worse and it happened when he played with his only friend, the boy next door named Billy.

Again and again, I’d say.. “Go out and play with Billy, Josh.”  One day he said to Billy:  “I have new tennis shoes, Billy.”.. showing him obviously new shoes.  Billy said:  “No you don’t, Josh.  I have Red Ball Jets.”  Josh could not say 3 words the remainder of the day.  I listened to them playing for the next week and the above conversation was a common exchange.  Then I said to Josh:  “You don’t have to play with Billy if you don’t want to Josh.”  Again he said ‘Oh.’  He never played with Billy again and all of  his speech became permanently fluent.

Famous Stutterers

Please see other posts from sidebar about stutterer as genius, what happens in the brain when stuttering, tricks to get around it and how to stop it in a child.


Alfred Kazin – author, critic and teacher

Andrew Kopkind – Journalist

Andrew Lloyd Webber – composer , Cats, Phantom of the Opera

Albert Einstein

Marilyn Monroe

Bruce Willis

Tim Gunn – Host of Project Runway

Charles Darwin

Joe Biden  – Vice President, United States of America

Henry Paulson – former Secretary of the Treasury

Tiger Woods

Sam Neill – actor.

Annie Glenn – wife of astronaut and Senator John Glenn

Anthony Quinn – Actor.

Austin Pendleton – Actor.

Ben Johnson – runner.

Bill Walton – basketball star, sports commentator

Bill Withers – singer and songwriter

Bo Jackson – football and baseball star

Bob Love – basketball star with Chicago Bulls in 60’s and 70’s.

Adrian Peterson – running back for the Chicago Bears.


Alan Rabinowitz – zoologist, conservationist, and author

Alan Turing – designed first digital computer. Broke Enigma codes.

Bruce Oldfield – British fashion designer for Diana and other Royals.

Budd Schulberg – “On the Waterfront,” Oscar winner

Butch Baird – golfer.

Carly Simon

Charles Canon Kingsley – orator, writer, chaplain to Queen Victoria.


Elvis Presley

Erasmus Darwin – physician, scientist and grandfather of Charles.

Clara Barton – Founder of the American Red Cross.

Claudius – Roman Emperor.

Congressman Frank Wolf – Republican from VA.

Cotton Mather – Puritan leader and famous preacher.

Nevil Shute – English novelist and aeronautical engineer.


Charles Lamb – British essayist,

Chris Trapper – musician, The Push Stars rock band


Winston Churchill – Prime Minister of Great Britain World War II,

During World War II, Great Britain was lead to victory by two stutterers: King George VI and his Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Field Marshall Lord Carver – former head of British military

George Washington

Greg Louganis

Garry Moore – game show host – “I’ve Got a Secret”

Harvey Keitel

Mike Rowe – host of ‘Dirty Jobs’ on television

Horace Grant – Orlando Magic power forward

Howard Bingham – professional photographer

Henry James – American Novelist.

Hazen “Kiki” Cuyler – a Hall of Fame outfielder for the Pirates

Harley Earl – train and car designer. Astra-Dome trains and Corvette

Henry Rogers – public relations pioneer.

Henry Luce – Founder of Time, Life, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and House & Home magazines. During college, he was voted “most brilliant” by his class at Yale.

Isaac Newton

Marc Anthony – singer and husband of Jennifer Lopez

B. B. King

John Lee Hooker

James ‘Jimmy’ Crudup – perfected and taught surgical techniques.

Jake Eberts – “Gandhi” producer

Jack Welsh – President of GE

Jack Paar – host of  “The Tonight Show” 1957-1962

Jimmy Stewart – actor.

John Slaughter – Arizona sheriff in the 1880’s, cleaned up Arizona Territory

John Stossel – reporter, ABC’s 20/20.

Dekanawida – Iroquois Indian leader in the 1500’s

John Updike –  writer

Julia Roberts

Eric Roberts – actor

Neville Schute – writer

John Sculley – Apple Computer

James Earl Jones – actor

“My voice is an impaired instrument,” says the actor. “I’m happy that any clarity comes out at all.  Growing up, it was so painful and embarrassing. I knew why people laughed but it was still painful.”

Kenyon Martin – forward for the New Jersey Nets

Katey Red – Rap Artist

Kim Philby – British spy.

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter – boxer  As a boy, he beat up other boys who laughed at his stuttering.

Pat Leahy – N.Y. Jets kicker.

King Charles I –  King of England, 1625-1649.

King George VI – King of England, 1937-1952.

Kenneth Tynan – British drama critic

Ken Venturi – golfer. won U.S. Open in 1961.  Commentator for CBS sports.

Kenneth E. Boulding –  economist, lecturer, writer. Began Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford.

King Louis II,  France – ‘Louis the Stammerer’ (my ancestor.)


Lewis Carroll – Governor of Alaska

Lester Hayes – former All-Pro defensive back Oakland / LA Raiders.

Lewis Carroll – Author of Alice in Wonderland.

Christopher Robin Milne – the original Christopher Robin.

Lester Hayes – former Los Angeles Raider

Michael Ramsey – Archbishop of Canterbury

Marylin Monroe

Jane Seymour

Marion Davies – actress and partner of William Randolph Hearst

Jim Davis — The cartoonist  who created Garfield.

Mel Tillis – country singer

Joseph Priestley – (1733-1804) chemist, discovered oxygen

Mike Harpe – ConAgra Food Services

Michael Spinks – light heavyweight boxing champion

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra – author of Don Quixote


Antonio Bassolino – Mayor of Naples

Molotov – Russian Foreign Minister under Stalin.

Lord David Cecil – Professor Oxford

Aneurin Bevan – British Labor Party Leader in 1930’s.

Nino Salvatore – past president of Medicine, University of Naples

Nicholas Brendon – TV star “Xander” in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Nat King Cole

Nicolae Ceausecsu – President of Romania in the 1970’s

Niccolo Fontana Tartaglia * – Italian mathematician -algebraic solution of cubic


Notker Balbulus ** – Dark Ages monk developed plainchant and calendar.

Biographer of Charlemagne.

Mario Savio – 1960’s Free Speech leader at Berkeley

Prince Albert of Monaco

Raymond Massey – actor

Ron Harper – basketball star, Chicago Bulls.

Robert A. Heinlein – science fiction writer

Thomas Becket – Archbishop of Canterbury

Robert Merrill – Opera singer.

P.F. Bentley – photographer, TIME Magazine and photojournalism teacher

Richard Condon – novelist  Manchurian Candidate, Prizzi’s Honor.

Steven Hawking

Samuel L. Jackson – actor

Robert Boyle (1627-1691) – British scientist, ‘Father of Modern Chemistry’

Michael II, Byzantine Emperor – 820 – 829

Proinsias De Rossa – leader of the Democrat Left in Ireland.

Somerset Maugham – British writer

Thomas Jefferson

Theodore Roosevelt

Thomas Kean – Governor of New Jersey from1982-1990


Vernon Hill – CEO,  founder of Commerce Bancorp, Commerce Bank

“Scatman John” Larkin – jazz musician

Walter H. Annenberg –  publisher, broadcaster, diplomat and philanthropist.

Washington Irving – author

Walter Wriston – CEO Citicorp/Citibank

*  Tartaglia is Italian for stammerer.

** Balbulus  translates to Stammerer

… and there are others:  Full list here.