Saturday, December 26, 2009

Is Sss...s...Stammering a Disease..??

No, its not.

There are more than 45 million people in the world today who stammer and approximately 10 million live in India . Stammering is predominantly a 'male' condition (80% of all stammerers are male) and it usually affects the first-born male child. A significant majority of stammerers (65%) have a family history of the disorder; usually the father who stammers or speaks at a rapid rate. Nearly always, stammering starts before the child is 5 years of age. If left untreated, it peaks in severity around the age of 10 to 18 years and then begins to stabilize or fade away as the stammerer grows older.

A stammerer knows precisely what he wants to say but cannot, for the moment, say it because of an involuntary repetition, prolongation or cessation of the speech sound. Research suggests that the disorder might be caused due to a 'neurological mistiming' during the act of speech which leaves the stammerer confused about when exactly to say the word he wants to say. Speaking is not merely the movement of the tongue but involves a fine coordination of both mental and physical processes. Like all other physical actions, the act of speech is the result of neuro-muscular coordination which involves the transmitting of electro-chemical messages from the brain to the appropriate muscle groups. For everyone of us (non-stammerers and stammerers alike), this neuro-muscular system sometimes trips and fails especially during moments of inadequate emotional control. Haven't we all found the quality of our speech delivery changing with our feelings as we experience thrill, anger, fear, joy or other such strong emotions? For the stammerer, this 'tripping' occurs much more frequently than it does for normal speakers. Whenever he faces what he perceives as a 'feared' situation, the stammerer adopts a mind-set which triggers off spasms of speech-blocks. Such fears can also center around certain speech sounds or even certain people.

Scientists have yet to pin-point the exact cause of stammering. In ancient times, the condition was attributed to every possible source including sometimes the devil himself. One can only guess the varieties of tortures undergone by stammerers in their quest for speech fluency in those days. Even now, stammering has remained a confusing speech impediment for the sufferer as well as for those who have attempted to cure it through medicines.

One stammerer poignantly asks :
I can see
I can hear
I can sprightly walk.
Why do all my problems surface When I try to talk?

In their desperate search for fluency, many stammerers in India subject themselves to a myriad of so-called treatments ranging from swallowing vile concoctions to allowing themselves to be pierced with needles and cut with knives. Actually, such treatments hold no relevance to the problem of stammering and only cause greater frustration in the long run.

Yoga and meditation might really hold the key to solving the problem of stammering. With the greater sense of emotional and intellectual balance that these disciplines promote, the stammerer might find them of tremendous help in his attempts to develop
better control over his speech.

Dr. Edward Conture, Professor of Speech Pathology at Syracuse University, New York, talks about what causes stammering :

"Things that cause stammering may be, and probably are, quite different from the things that keep it going, aggravate or worsen it. For example, if you mishandle a knife, you may cut your finger. The knife causes the cut and initial pain. Salt rubbed into the cut makes the pain continue or even worsen it but the salt does not cause the cut". Dr. Conture says, scientists "...still haven't found the 'knife' that causes stammering. However, we do know something about the 'salt' that keeps it going, makes it worse or aggravates it".

These are aspects which can be changed through self-therapy to help the person overcome his speaking difficulty.

Many of the Non-stammerers might experience a feeling of embarrassment when we converse with stammerers; some of us look away while others go ahead to complete their sentences for them. In talking with a stammerer, the following hints might be of help:

  1. Listen to what is said, not how it is said.

  2. Be patient and don't hurry the person talking.

  3. Try to maintain natural eye contact.

  4. Simplistic advice ("breathe properly", "don't worry", "don't be afraid", etc.) though well- meant is not always helpful.

  5. Stammerers have difficulty when talking but don't assume they are stupid or confused about what they are saying.

  6. Many stammerers have difficulty when they speak on the telephone. Please do not hang up if the caller is taking longer than usual or if he is silent for a while.
    Stammerers usually try and hide their speech problem from their listeners. This attempt at camouflage is counter-productive because it only acts as psychological 'fuel' for even more speech-blocks. If the stammerer is open about his speech difficulty, he experiences lesser stress and is able to speak with greater control.

In the final analysis, stammering can be overcome if the sufferer seeks scientific, professional guidance and is ready to work towards achieving speech fluency through regular practice of therapeutic techniques. It certainly cannot disappear by ingesting some magic potent!

This article is taken from :-


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Do's and Don'ts for the Non-PWS

The hatred for stammering by all PWS has it's origin in the kind of reaction that they are met with when talking to the world, or the non-PWS which are relatively more fluent ( I won't say fluent ) then the PWS. A PWS will be at his / her ease when speaking to another PWS, because they respond just the way that is comfortable to the speaker.

This happens because non-PWS cannot relate to what goes behind a PWS mind. And they are always ill-prepared on how to deal with the situation when they have to communicate with a PWS. So, here's a list of Do's and Don'ts for the non-PWS, that may help to give rise to a better and productive conversation :

1. Do listen to him / her with patience. Give him / her time.
2. Do maintain a straight eye contact with him / her.
3. Do motivate and encourage him / her to do things, like extra-carricular, creative, with regards to speech or things related to work.

1. Don't complete the sentences / words for a him / her.
2. Don't make crooked faces by stretching your eye-brows or ears.
3. Don't nod without understanding.
4. Don't start speaking your sentence while he / she is stammering and is completing his / her sentence.
5. Don't hesitate to talk to a PWS because he / she might stammer.

by Harish

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

8th meeting of Jammu SHG

On 29th Nov(Sunday) we had our 8th meeting of Jammu SHG. This was the longest one. Started at 11 am and went on to around 2:45 pm. We started our meeting with usual discussion.Rajesh cleared the 2nd round of the interview and got selected. Then we moved on to Sharing our Ambitions.

Each and everyone of us is very Ambitious and we talked about that from our school time to present day Ambition. Bcoz we are having some kiddish Ambitions in school and as we grew up and responsibilities increases, our Ambitions also changes.

Then we started discussing our fretful encounters with something supernatural or Paranormal Activities like Ghosts,spirits etc, if any.All this was increasing our excitement and triggering stammering but we tried our best to handle this excitement and control our stammering.

After a long discussion of our encounters with supernatural things I began to tell them about the concept of Parallel universes,CERN's Large Hadron Collider(LHC) experiment. Then we discussed few more interesting topics such as UFOs, Aliens,Area 51,John Titor(the Time Traveler) etc.

All the topics were very interesting and thatz why it took around 4 hours to discuss it all. We started these topics bcoz I think that we got bored of talking about stammering and techniques and other stuff related to stammering. So we should have this kindaa chat sometimes in our SHG meetings.

This meeting was very much interesting, especially for me, bcoz I was having a lot about these things within me and finally It came out and now I am feeling very very relaxed. Same will be with Addy and Rajesh too . We also discussed about girls,love etc. So this was even more interesting.....jus kidding.

So this was all about our 8th meeting.Stay tuned to get more on our 9th meeting.

Success! In Spite Of (or maybe because of?) Stuttering - Personal Stories

Robert's Story: Frustration Gave Me Strength to Prove Myself

As far as I can remember, for the whole of my childhood, I have been stuttering, possibly since the age of 3. According to my mother my stuttering was a consequence of great fear, which expressed itself through the many nightmares I had when I was a small child.

Before I started school I had a lot of friends. We played and had fun. But my primary school years were rather sad. I was plagued by teasing at school. Neither the teachers nor the higher authority of the school supported me. Those schooldays were very frustrating and emotionally a very heavy burden. Due to these unbearable tortures at school, I decided to quit school at the age of 14. School left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Although I was a good student, I simply could not tolerate it that people were laughing at me all the time.

However, in my opinion, this frustration gave me the strength to prove myself to my relatives and friends. I would show them that I was a capable person!

I developed myself through self study and vigilance and started to gain confidence as I went along my own way. I made new friends, who accepted me for what I was. During the weekends my parents allowed me to go out and my friends and I went out motorcrossing in the claypits. We sometimes cycled with more than 10 friends to neighboring dances and pubs. I met some girls and at the age of 17 got to know the woman I married at the age of 21. We raised a family of two daughters who are now also married and who have given us 5 adorable grandchildren.

Let me go back in time, to the point where school left me with an image of me standing at the edge of society. I felt worthless. Slowly I gained confidence through self development. At the age of 18 I asked my parents to give me a loan of 500.000 Bef (equal now to about 12.500 Euro) and I set up my own business.

The amount of money did not scare me a lot, I had the drive to show everyone what my capabilities were. I felt smart, I could reason enough so I could be an entrepreneur. So I started up my own small scale business in the region in technical material. I went out to visit customers, made my purchases and took a great deal of time for market research.

In a short time, I traveled to neighboring countries to check out the products sold there and I got a good picture of the potential market, learning the needs of the customers.

After a lot of math, I calculated that it would be possible to produce these products myself. I started my first successful production unit and we needed to add more units soon after.

In the meanwhile my children and sons in law are also busy in the company. Due to all the efforts, our company has grown to become marketleader in Belgium and on the European front we are also becoming an important player. Currently we have production units in Italy, India and China. The Main office is in Belgium where everything is coordinated. After 35 years of being a businessmen and entrepreneur I can look back at my professional and personal life and I find success.

As you can read, a person who stutters can also have a beautiful and rich life.

Not everyone may feel this way, but I personally feel now that all the teasing and the bad luck during my youth, made me stronger.

Tony's Story: Her Narrow-Mindedness Became My Inspiration

At 45 years old, I have stammered for as long as I can remember. I m left handed too, which means that in the 1600s I would certainly have been burned at the stake for my apparent "sorcery".(1) Fortunately, we live in more enlightened times now or do we?

In 1993, I had the privilege of writing in the journal "Speaking Out" about my experiences of stammering in the workplace.(2) Up to that time, I had blatantly been denied promotion in the service industry because of my stammer, then demoted when it re-appeared after being in remission for a while. I was not imagining any conspiracy theories; my employers told me quite clearly that stammering and a management position could not mix. This well known international organisation (still in business today) felt that my stammer would present a poor image of the company to its customers. So aged 29, I was removed from my junior executive position and given a job as an installation technician. My salary was halved, and future prospects looked distinctly bleak. Stammering at job interviews made it difficult for me to find alternative work, so I stayed on until my local office was closed down, resulting in redundancy. But things began to improve, and in my 1993 article, I wrote about a new opportunity that I had been offered within the NHS. Unbelievably, I was successful at interview, despite stammering so severely that I was practically incomprehensible.

Career-wise, a completely fresh start was required. I had been given a good job in the NHS, helping GPs and other health care professionals to evaluate the quality of their work. Having left school half-way through A levels, I had no real qualifications, which unfortunately limited any future prospects. My line manager, however, suggested that I might like to undertake a certificate in health services management, and provided some funding as well as protected time to study. My job gradually became more interesting, and I was eventually made a manager. In a management reshuffle (for which the NHS is still famous), my job was transferred over to the public health department. Unexpectedly, it turned out that completion of the management certificate made me eligible to read part-time for a Master of Public Health degree (MPH), and I was again encouraged and helped to enrol. This introduced me to the world of medical research and epidemiology, which I found utterly fascinating. Upon graduating with my MPH, the university offered me a job as a researcher carrying out systematic reviews of evidence for new medical technologies. This work gave me some enormously valuable practical skills in epidemiology.

I subsequently applied for a position at a different university, involving the development and management of a new MPH course, and to my amazement was offered it. Now, being a stammering NHS manager was one thing, but as you may imagine, the prospect of becoming a stammering lecturer fell way outside my comfort zone. Calling my new boss to accept the post, I protested "but my stammer - how will I get on with the lectures?" "Don't worry", she replied, "it's rather endearing" To be honest, I did not feel sufficiently competent to take on this challenge, but with hard work and plenty of luck, a course was successfully launched. With regard to the stammer, the only option was to buckle down and get on with it. So I informed my first lecture theatre full of students that some unexpected gyrations or facial contortions may occur, and these would be caused by a stutter rather than any other habit. And so for several years I stuttered profusely during lectures, but no-one appeared to laugh, and amazingly no complaints were made.

Being a public health academic was all very well, but I felt a need to update my practical skills to inform the academic activities. An opportunity to re-join the NHS in my current role as a specialist in public health presented itself, a job I am enjoying very much. I am also able to combine public health practice with acadaemia, thanks to a professorship in epidemiology that I now hold.

So installation technician to professor - that's not a bad career progression, is it? Of course, none of this would have happened without the many opportunities I have been given by people who saw through the stammer and believed in me.

By far the most important event since 1993 is that I have become a father, and have two gorgeous and exuberant children aged 6 and 11. They find the stutter a little quirky, but do not make fun of it. One intriguing point is that my family and several students tell me that they no longer notice my stammer. Indeed, it is significant that I have never come across anyone within either the NHS or acadaemia who appears to have a problem with my stammer a very different situation to my experience in industry.

So what's the point of this article? To make me sound like a lucky chap? Not really. The point is that we stammerers all have potential, but people sometimes want to make us feel inferior. When I was 18, a women, whose rudeness I am told was justified by her occupying a position of trust at work, told me that with a stammer I would could never aspire to anything beyond a basic manual job. I have taken pride in spending the last 27 years defying her! Although these individuals would use their narrow-mindedness to deny us our deserved success, we must believe in ourselves and be strong in our determination to break through these barriers. Then, with luck, we can triumph and conquer the flames of bigotry.

This article is taken from :-