Newswise — University of Maryland Speech-Language Pathologist Vivian Sisskin knows a thing or two about stuttering – the centerpiece on the Oscar nominated film, The King’s Speech, which has brought stuttering into the spotlight. While the cause of stuttering is still unknown, recent research shows that there is a neuropsychological and genetic component to the speech impediment.

Sisskin said that about half of her clients have a close family member who stutters. Sisskin adds one percent of the population stutters, many of whom feel ashamed. Sisskin encourages people who stutter to consider therapy not only as a way to help suppress the condition, but also as a way to cope with the speech impediment.

“We know that stuttering has been portrayed in the media rather negatively in the past,” said Sisskin. “Characters who stutter have been the object of ridicule, they have been weak in character…they’ve been all kinds of things, and I think this is one way we show that stuttering affects everybody; it’s across the population…”

Sisskin is an instructor in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at the University of Maryland. She received her master’s in communication disorders from Chapman University and is a licensed speech language pathologist in the states of Maryland, Virginia and California. Her clinical interests include stuttering and other fluency disorders, autism spectrum disorders and language disorders among younger populations. Her current research projects focus on the efficacy of group therapy programs to treat stuttering and disfluency in children with autism spectrum disorder.