Mariska Hargitay is sharing how she found help and a community for her 16-year-old son, August, who has a stutter.
“The thing about stuttering, and what I’ve learned, is so many times people who stutter try not to speak or try to switch the word or not say anything, get out of it, hide,” she told People. “It’s so heartbreaking to think that all these amazing humans with so much to offer would be holding it in because of how the world treats them, or for fear.”
Hargitay continued, “It’s been so exciting to learn and to understand and educate people because as soon as people know, they’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh. Thank you. Tell me more. Tell me more.’”
On May 22, the 59-year-old “Law & Order: SVU” star and her husband, Peter Hermann, attended an event hosted by The Stuttering Association for the Young (SAY) in New York City with their three children: August, 12-year-old Amaya and 11-year-old Andrew.
“Our son stutters,” she told People. “And it was so beautiful to have this lovely community to introduce him to and learn about it from the experts.”
Hermann, 55, opened up about building a connection with SAY’s founder, Taro Alexander, who has been a support system for their son.
He told People, “It was extraordinary when we first heard his stutter to meet Taro and have someone to go to, because so many stutterers live in isolation. And there are so many people who come (to SAY) for the first time, and when they come they say that they’d never heard another person with a stutter.”
Hargitay agreed with her husband and added, “Their life begins.”
She explained how working with the association has educated her on the silent struggles people with stutters face.
At the Benefit Gala, the couple, who have been married since 2004, were inducted into the association’s Hall of Fame, according to People.
The “Younger” star shared that he has realized the importance of patience through their work with SAY.
He said, “It is increasingly important that we give out grace to take space and take time and to let the ideas out that want to come out. And some of it is just speaking. Just everyday speaking, that chance to simply be.”
Their 16-year-old son spoke about his personal experience with a stutter, as well.
“I think that being in a place where you’re surrounded by the people who are dealing with the same thing you are is super special,” he said while chatting with People. The teenager pointed out that there is “always a lot of pressure and conversation” when he makes appearances at events with his parents.
“So to be in a place where the edge is off and it’s encouraged, it’s welcomed? It’s special,” he said.
The family of five also posed with others involved with SAY at the New York City gala.
Their appearance together marked a rare red carpet moment for the whole family. Hargitay typically only shows glimpses of her family life on social media.