President Biden’s speech occasionally raises concerns about his age and possible dementia due to stuttering characteristics. Critics, both from the MAGA faction and left-leaning pundits, seize on his speech stumbles as evidence of mental incompetence. Despite this, President Biden continues to achieve legislative victories and implement effective policies. So, what’s the explanation?
It boils down to President Biden’s lifelong battle with stuttering, a trait he shares with the author, a former Delaware resident. Stuttering is not a condition to be defeated but rather a characteristic, akin to eye color or height. Its significance often arises from how others perceive it.
The author, who also stutters, brings professional expertise as a licensed speech-language pathologist with extensive experience in cognitive issues, dementia, and various related conditions.
One crucial distinction is fluency; stuttering disrupts speech fluency with repetitions, prolonged sounds, and interjections. In contrast, those with cognitive deficits or dementia generally maintain speech fluency, despite other deficiencies.
Circumlocutions, word workarounds, occur in both stuttering and cognitive issues, often indistinguishable to listeners. However, the reasons behind them are distinct, with stuttering linked to the effort to overcome speech blocks.
Language formulation is another contrast. Stutterers typically have strong language formulation skills, while those with cognitive issues struggle with language complexity over time.
Additionally, secondary behaviors, such as blinking or head movement during a speech block, are common in stuttering but rarely seen in those with cognitive problems.
In summary, scrutinizing President Biden’s speech should prompt questions about stuttering rather than cognitive deficits.