“Kagame, I hated myself. I wanted to die and be with God in heaven instead of living in a world that I do not fit. I am tired of being mistreated and even misunderstood even by my own people; because I am not fluent in speaking as they are.” John, who is also a friend of mine lamented to me.
This is the main reason as to why I want to dedicate this article to all stammering people in the society and also to sensitize my audience on the same.
John, my friend, is the only son in his father’s house who is very bright in education and well composed in many issues pertaining to human development. He was born 27 years ago and is doing well in the world of business as an entrepreneur in Nairobi Kenya.
His mother discovered his inability to fluent speaking at an early age but did not know what to do. She hid the boy for a period of three years in the house because she feared the reaction of the neighbors who would eventually see a boy as an outcast. It’s not until she, the mother, heard in a radio interview a stuttering giving his story and changed her narrative.
Stuttering, or stammering, is a disruption in speech where a person repeats or prolongs words, syllables, or phrases. They may also pause during speech and make no sound at some points despite knowing what they want to say. Many people with a stutter feel stigmatized, and it can adversely affect their daily lives.
Stuttering is common when children learn to speak and is three to four times and it is more common in boys than girls.
When John joined high school, things became worse than expected. Fellow students, teaching staffs and others within the institution became a thorn in his fresh; and started mocking his speaking problem.
There are three main types of stutter:
- Developmental. Children may experience this when they are still developing their speech and language skills.
- Neurogenic. Neurogenic stuttering is the result of damage to the central nervous system.
- Psychogenic. A person’s stutter may result from psychological disorders, such as depression or anxiety.
Stuttering often involves repeating words or parts of words, prolonging certain speech sounds, and having difficulty finding some words and it is very prudent to note that some individuals who stutter appear extremely tense or out of breath when they talk. They may experience the sensation that their speech is being blocked or stopped.
Blocked is when a person’s mouth is in the correct position to say the word, but virtually no sound comes out. This may last several seconds. Sometimes, they utter the desired word or use interjections to delay the initiation of a word they know is difficult.
Common signs and symptoms associated with stuttering include:
- Problems starting a word, phrase, or sentence
- Hesitation before uttering certain sounds
- Repeating a sound, word, or syllable
- Prolonging certain speech sounds
- Speech may come out in spurts
- Substituting words with certain sounds for others (circumlocution).
While stuttering is more common in children, around 25%Trusted Source of people with a developmental stutter continue to have it into their adult life.
It is also good to note that even head trauma or injury to the CNS may also cause neurogenic stuttering in adulthood; and people may also develop a psychogenic stutter later in life due to psychological conditions, such as anxiety or depression. The perception of someone listening to them, either real or imagined, may play a role in stuttering in adult life.
Many doctors and health professionals have recommended therapy as one way of handling the issue. A good evaluation of stuttering is vital, as this determines the best therapy.
My friend Dominic Kiplish, Founder- Be patient stammering Foundation Environmental Activist Disability-human rights Activist has it all. He always stand for the rights of all stammerers and encourages them to come out and stand for their right.
He is the president of all stutterers in Kenya and the National Chairperson of Persons with Disability under Wiper Democratic Movement at the age of 24 and has been in almost all local media houses for the Sensitization and calling on the government stakeholders to embrace the stutterers in every government ministry and electoral position for presentation.
Therapies involve teaching the person skills, strategies, and behaviors that help oral communication. This may include; Fluency shaping therapy involves teaching a person to stretch vowels and consonants. This can help a person speak at higher speeds without interruption and use longer sentences and phrases.
One technique involves practicing smooth, fluent speech at a very slow speed, using short sentences and phrases.
Stuttering modification therapy which does not does not aim to eliminate the stutter. Instead, it aims to modify the stuttering to require less effort, making it easier for someone to manage. This therapy works on the principle that if anxiety makes stuttering worse, reducing the effort needed will alleviate the stuttering.
And finally electronic fluency devices where it involves the use of the so-called altered auditory feedback effect. The person wears an earpiece that echoes the speaker’s voice so that they feel they are talking in unison with someone else. Some people respond well to this treatment, but others do not.
Talking to a person with a stutter might be unsure how to respond. Sometimes, the listener will look away whenever the person stammers, try and help by completing their missing words or phrases, or simply avoid people who stutter.
“Our revolution is not a public-speaking tournament. Our revolution is not a battle of fine phrases. Our revolution is not simply for spouting slogans that are no more than signals used by manipulators trying to use them as catchwords, as code words, as a foil for their own display. Our revolution is, and should continue to be, the collective effort of revolutionaries to transform reality, to improve the concrete situation of the masses of our country.” Dominic Kiplish.
As you talk to a person who stutter it is essential to remember that a person who stutters wants to communicate just like everybody else. It is important to focus on the speaker and listen to the information they are imparting rather than how it sounds.
If you are really unsure how to behave when talking to a person who stutters and nobody else is around, it might be helpful to ask them what would be the best way to respond.
If you are a friend of a person who stutters, do not judge him negatively because he has a speech dysfluency. You may however find that he stutters with other people that he does not know as well as he may be concerned about their reaction if he stutters with them. This is normal behavior for anyone who has a stutter.
When your friend is talking to you and he has a speech block or bad stutter it is often that you will know the word he is trying to say. It is always very tempting to say the word for him or start to answer on the assumption that you know what he is going to say. It is more respectful to your friend if you allow him to say the word himself or finish what he wants to say. Be patient at these times.
A person may develop a stutter following an injury to their central nervous system, and some psychological conditions can worsen existing symptoms.
As you are already aware, we all are human beings and have an issue or two in life that we have to deal with and some, like stuttering, are more obvious than others. We all want to be understood. We all want others to understand and respect us. Unfortunately speaking is such a major part of how we express who we are but who we are is a lot more than how we speak. Understanding each other and how other people are will make you not only a better friend but a better human being.
“Fear the soldier who stammers, for he is very fast at pulling the trigger.”
Michael Bassey Johnson