Mu..mmm..mum..mummy! We wa.wa. wa..won the mmm. .mmmatch!" Mrs. Chopra gets tensed whenever she hears her seven year old son stammering. She becomes worried when Amit gets stuck on a word and struggles so hard to speak it out.
"Sometimes, a class-mate might tease him and that makes Amit feel as if he is abnormal. He speaks quite well with everyone at home or with some of his friends. He has no difficulty when he sings or recites from memory. But when the teacher asks him to read in class, he breaks down into severe stammering. The problem is especially noticeable when he is excited or angry," says Mrs Chopra.
Stammering or stuttering is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, words in which the stammerer is unable to produce sounds. Mahima, a housewife, says, "I have been suffering from stuttering problem since I was a kid. Many a time, I wanted and tried to express myself in a group but couldn't. It gets really difficult when you don't know how to express yourself."
This happens from birth and when the vocal chords are fully formed and a person starts speaking. "Many people who stammer spend a great deal of time trying to find out why they stammer. They believe that if they could get an answer to this question, they would be cured. Unfortunately such beliefs are not true and only lead people to focus on the past rather than on what is happening now. The one certainty is that there is no single cause, but stammering is the result of many factors coming together in an individual at the same time. These factors could be physical, emotional or due to outside influences such as friends, school, parents, etc." says Dr. Sajiv Adlakha, speech therapist.
Is stammering a disease? No, it is not. "It starts with lacking of neuromuscular co-ordination leading to disfluency in speech. Afterwards it becomes a bad habit of speaking. The more a person wants to avoid stammering the more he/she is prone to disfluency. Stammering can be cured by medicines or surgery. One can also overcome stammering by continued Speech therapy clubbed with psychological counselling backed by group therapy and followed by maintenance therapy," says Dr Adlakha.Dr. Ajit Harisinghani, Speech therapist, Speech Foundation says "Stammering is not a disease and therefore, it cannot be treated through medicines. The stammering child or adult needs helped to develop a new, more fluent manner of speech through an intensive re-orientation programme which focuses on modifying his physical manner of talking as well as changing his mental attitude.”
The following tips for a stammerer might be of help:
However, it is very important to develop confidence in oneself for curing stammering. You just have to believe in yourself and then the world will believe in you.
Practice talking with yourself in the mirror. You can also take the help of audio books and your family members or friends. You would notice that you don't stammer that much when you're around people whom you're comfortable with.
Speech therapy is a process on the basis of relaxing the speech mechanism to reduce stuttering. Join your nearest speech therapy class for treatment.
The vocal exercises quickly regularizes the flow of breathing (both inflow and outflow) to help you in speaking fluently, keeps your speech muscles relaxed and softens the delivery of speech. Reading practice (not plain reading) in a certain style helps you control the speed of speaking. When the speed is controlled, you can easily co-ordinate thinking and speaking, bring back the natural rhythm thus helping you to speak fluently.
It should be remembered that the stuttering person is not mentally retarded. The intelligence quotient of these may be higher than an average person of their age in most instances.If you stammer, don't worry!! Now you know how to achieve a better life with confidence and grace in your voice. Just speak out!!
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