24 October, 2013
by Dig Vijoy Sodhi
Stuttering is a habit. I start off with this short and concise statement to highlight and debunk a popular misconception that stuttering is a disease that cannot be treated. Like any other habit, this too can be overcome.
There is an urgent and pressing need to spread awareness about this habit as many stutterers around the world go through life feeling depressed, debilitated, frustrated because of their speech impediment. They are often mocked, ridiculed, bullied at school or just shown general disregard about their speech impediment. It can leave a person feeling very lonely, affected by a debilitating impediment they don’t understand.
You are not alone
The most important thing to remember is that if you stutter, you are not alone. There are millions of people like you around the world. Having said that, you must
rejoice that there are equally a large number of people who have overcome this habit and have attained fluency with the aid of speech therapy.
Stuttering? Speech Therapy?
To put it in lay man’s language, stuttering is caused due to a lack of coordination between the organs or so to call “processes” involved in producing speech. Speech therapy entails training those organs to act in tandem so as to be able to produce the correct sound. It is like training yourself how to talk again, or to correctly maneuver your speech organs to produce the right sound. Having said that, it requires a lot of dedication and effort on the part of the stutterer and the speech therapist in order to debunk the flawed method of talking the stutterer has become habituated to over the years.
When to act? – need for Early Intervention.
It is a popular belief amongst parents that their stuttering young ones would eventually grow out of it. This cannot be more farther from reality. In most cases the child grows up with the habit of stuttering and it does not magically go away. Stuttering children are often told, if not commanded, to speak properly, to speak slowly or even at times to speak correctly or not speak at all. Such disregard to the child’s stuttering can lead to behavioral issues, such as withdrawal, resignation, lack of confidence, etc. impacting the child’s overall development. The child’s stuttering and emotions need to be taken care of with great sensitivity, so as to not impress a wrong notion upon the child’s impressionable mind.
Men are creatures of habit. And as with all wrong habits, early intervention can prove to be the most beneficial. Habits are formed with due to timeless repetition.
Stuttering is a habit too and countering it at a young age can take care of it effectively. A young child’s mind is like a sponge, it absorbs what it sees, hears or perceives. Before stuttering can set in and become a habit, it can be effectively taken care of by a speech therapist by proper guidance and retraining the child to use his speech organs in the correct fashion. Having said that, it is never too late to kick off a bad habit. Maybe harder, but not impossible. Speech therapy is the same with a child as it is with an adult, just that the child is more open to learn. The time to act is now.
The importance of seeking help from a qualified professional cannot be stressed on enough. We have all been recommended and maybe even tried various remedies ranging from eating almonds to alternative medicine to even divine intervention, but to no avail. There are many quacks out there making tall claims of curing stuttering within a couple of days. Quite understandably why, these tall claims attract a large number of people. They make a large profit on the individual’s helplessness and lack of knowledge of speech therapy. Who would not avail the opportunity if they happen to chance up on a cure for their problems? The stutterer’s speech can be further hampered due to improper guidance. Thus, it is reiterated that it is unequivocally essential and cannot be stressed up on enough to seek professional help from a qualified individual who is trained aptly to handle such speech impediments. Stutterer or a non-stutterer, we all know someone who stutters or at least have come across someone who does. There is an urgent and progressive need to spread awareness about stuttering and speech therapy amongst fellow stutterers. To remind them that they are not alone and there is a way out of this habit.
Dig Vijoy Sodhi