Stuttering As A Mental Disorder
Posted April 9, 2013on:
There is quite a discussion roiling on one of the email groups about stuttering being renamed “childhood onset fluency disorder.” This classification will be found in the DSM-5, due to be released in May 2013.
The DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. All mental disorders (and medical conditions for that matter) are coded for insurance coverage and reimbursement purposes. Changing the name from stuttering allows for all communication disorders to be covered, and gives parents with kids who stutter more options for quality speech therapy that insurance companies will pay for.
That is the layman’s (mine) explanation, from what I’ve gleaned from doing some reading and understanding what one of the writers and contributors to the section on communication disorders shared on the email group.
Many in the stuttering community are finding this classification of stuttering as a mental disorder to be disturbing. Many of us who stutter do not believe that we have a mental disorder.
And this label might just further the beliefs, and myths, that stuttering is a psychological problem. Many walked away from the 2010 movie “The Kings Speech” believing that stuttering was caused by bad parenting and psychological reactions to trauma and bullying.
People who stutter already have trouble with bullying in school and often being assigned to special education classes, even though there is no learning impairment. There is also workplace discrimination, with employers not fully understanding stuttering and making assumptions about ability and stability. If employers get wind of stuttering now being classified as a mental disorder, that could further diminish employment opportunities for stutterers.
Some could argue that everything we do is “mental.” We use our mental faculties everyday to communicate and interact with the world.
I don’t think I have a mental disorder because of my stuttering. Maybe for other things, but not for stuttering! 🙂
What do you think? Would you feel comfortable being diagnosed with a mental disorder due to your stuttering?