At just 16 years old, Philip Garber Jr. is already taking college courses at County College of Morris in Randolph, N.J. He is chatty and confident and is always willing to participate in class. This despite not only his age difference, but also the fact that Garber has a stutter, as The New York Times reports. Although Garber doesn’t allow his stutter to hinder him, one particular history professor found his stutter problematic:

After the first couple of class sessions, in which he participated actively, the professor, an adjunct named Elizabeth Snyder, sent him an e-mail asking that he pose questions before or after class, “so we do not infringe on other students’ time.” As for questions she asks in class, Ms. Snyder suggested, “I believe it would be better for everyone if you kept a sheet of paper on your desk and wrote down the answers.” Later, he said, she told him, “Your speaking is disruptive.”

Stuttering affects approximately 1 percent of the adult population, and 5 percent of people stutter at some point in their lives. Despite being in the minority, Garber said he had never seen someone – especially a teacher – react so negatively to his stuttering.

“I’ve never experienced any kind of discrimination,” he said, “so for it to happen in a college classroom was quite shocking.”

Read the rest of the New York Times article

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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