Talking about talking: Clients, clinicians share stuttering stories during event at West Edmonton Mall

Second annual ISTAR Family Fun Day teaches children, adults about speech challenges currently being faced by over 300,000 Canadians

Amanda McCarthy - 16 May 2018

Since the age of six, Shubham Chadha has been dealing with a stutter.

In school, he was quiet-shy. While reading aloud in front of his class or in group settings, he was often teased about his speech.

It wasn't until Shubham was nine that his parents finally decided it was time to get help.

"A speech-language pathologist did an initial analysis on him in 2015, and that's when she decided he needed to be referred to ISTAR," said Shubham's mother, Preeti Chadha. "I was a bit stressful in the beginning as we were worried it would impact his future, career and studies. But with the support of ISTAR, things started to get better and we saw him developing his speech and enjoying the treatment."

Things have gotten so much better that Shubham and Preeti are now ambassadors for ISTAR and its programs. They were on hand on Saturday, May 12 during the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research's (ISTAR) second annual ISTAR Family Fun Day at the West Edmonton Mall Centre Stage from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. to teach the public about stutters and other communication disorders. The free event, in honour of Speech and Hearing Awareness Month, featured interactive booths, pictures with princesses and superheroes, and cooking decorating. More importantly, it provided children, adults and families the opportunity to learn about challenges that are currently being faced by over 300,000 Canadians.

The same challenges that Shubham has to face and overcome every day.

"Shubham is receiving treatment for the second time since 2015 with ISTAR," said Preeti. "It's going great and we are very thankful to ISTAR for accommodating sessions with us over Skype."

ISTAR, an institute of the University of Alberta's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, offers specialized treatment to children, teens and adults who stutter, either in-person or through conferencing technology. And with so many individuals still experiencing speech impairments, their goal is to constantly promote awareness of stuttering and its treatment.

"We were very happy to be a part of this event so we could help raise awareness of stuttering and its impact," said Preeti. "ISTAR is such a great place to receive stuttering treatment. They make their sessions fun and encouraging for clients."

These 'fun' sessions are something that Shubham has been benefitting from greatly.

"I am now calm and am able to speak better than before, with much less stuttering in my speech," said Shubham.

Calm, effective speech is something ISTAR is hoping to achieve with their annual awareness events-and is something Preeti has seen develop in her son.

"He has improved considerably in his speech and feel more confident while talking. And it's all thanks to ISTAR."

If you or your child are experiencing speech issues, visit to book an assessment.