September 16, 2011

Over Your stuttering in...days


PREFACE
This is the preface to a self help book, I have been writing for sometime. Sneak peak! You be the JUDGE! Seven chapters. Seven core themes. And lot of self paced activities. Feel free to leave you comments- positive and negative. And your suggestions too! I will be looking forward to it and respond to each comment..

Over Your stuttering in...days


Dots represent your commitment and hard work and certain other facts!
But before we begin let us make sure of basic facts:
1. Do you stammer? You can be sure of this if you can speak normally under some conditions (like when alone, talking to younger children etc.) or when you can sing well but have lot of difficulties in talking, in some situations particularly - in class, in market, during interviews etc.
2. Secondly and more importantly- do you really want to overcome your stammering? Here, answer may not be simple and straightforward. Many of us feel pain on a daily basis due to stammering- but it goes away as quickly as it comes. Kam chalta rehta hai (life goes on).. and therefore we dont feel committed to long hard work needed to deal with stammering.
Have you suffered enough and reached a point of no return? Have you discovered the uselessness of all the coping mechanisms or tricks you have discovered so far?
But why do things have to be so desperate, before they can change? But an enduring change is not easy to achieve for many of us. You can understand this if you understand the nature and origin of stammering. Here is a brief description.

Origin & nature of stammering

The current scientific beliefs are: there is a neurobiological glitch in our brain, in the area dealing with speech, especially articulation- joining of two syllables (sounds). This glitch in many cases is transmitted by certain genes in some families. In others, there could be other reasons- not yet fully understood. When children learn to speak, every child passes through a phase of normal disfluency which lasts for a few months. But the children with a glitch in the speech nerves of brain may continue to have these difficulties for a longer period, may be years.
Another explanation is: some children inherit greater sensitivity, react strongly to negative comments from parents and others, in response to their normal disfluency and therefore learn to struggle when they speak. In other words, belief that certain words or situations are difficult and I must use force or struggle - is a learned reaction to normal events in growing up years.
Yet another explanation is: some children inherit “fast talking” genes, stumble over words and develop a life long pattern of reacting to “perceived” stress. But since 80% of children recover and become normal speakers- some inherent difference in our brains has to be there, which can not be just explained away as a bad habit or purely psychological phenomena like poor self-esteem or a 'complex' arising out of early childhood trauma. In certain families, even though children may have similar upbringing, still the eldest or the youngest child may develop stammering while other siblings may grow up to be “normal” speakers. Check internet for various theories and discoveries ( link ).
Now, once we have developed this mindset (“I will have problem saying this or that in that particular situation”) and have developed a physiological reaction (of using excessive force, blinking, struggling, holding breath etc.), it becomes a regular unconscious pattern. It starts shaping our perception of the world, of our-self as social beings. We start to develop small tricks to cope with the problem on daily basis: we may pray to God to rid us of this problem; we may try to become very moral thinking that stammering is a punishment for “every time I speak a lie or do something mean”. We may start thinking that stammering is a “punishment” from God and we are some kind of “sinner”, who does not deserve anything good in life.
Another aspect of this development is learning to avoid, words, situations, people, task, roles, relationships etc. Over the years, we develop an elaborate system of avoidance. The ultimate avoidance is avoidance of THOUGHT of stammering itself. We start denying it. We stop the thought of stammering from entering our conscious mind. We start living in total denial: Stammer? who? me? what rubbish! OR No, I dont stammer. I just hesitate sometime..etc.
If there is any talk about stammering in class or office, we freeze. Since the whole issue is painful and repulsive, we dont phone the therapists or the self help group, about whom we may have been reading again and again for months or years. In other words, we lock ourselves in a prison and fight off any one who may try to help us out.
We may suffer on daily basis but soon learn to accept it, as fate or whatever and carry on with life as best as we can. Since stammering is not a CONSISTENT disability and since it does not kill us, it is quite possible for us to deny it, forget it, postpone it. Since society too does not understand the issue well, it often ignores the whole thing politely and asks no questions. Since most children get spontaneously “cured” of stammering, world assumes that everyone should get over their stammering by the time they are adults. A stammerer is assumed to have failed to master a very basic skill- communication, through carelessness or a habitual hurry. He is often give this advice: Calm down; Take it easy; You think faster than your tongue can cope- slow down. No one takes into consideration the fact that for many of us stammering DOES have a biological basis.
This scenario is worsened by those therapists who think that unless they advertise “CURE”, stammerer will not come to them. This is not true. Then also, some “ex-stammerer” find it convenient to claim a “cure” rather than share the fact that they have learned to manage their problem. They feel that they can be a role model for other stammerers, ONLY if they stop stammering in public, and claim a “cure”. The fact that “normal” speech DOES have a certain amount of dis-fluencies is conveniently ignored by both parties. This is how, following the law of demand and supply, commercialization of stammering begins and continues. The overall effect is- stammerers find it difficult to say that they stammer, that it hurts. They are made to look like losers and delinquents. Some stammerers, as a reaction, go to the other extreme and claim: stammerers are very talented and intelligent people! Holding on to such comforting beliefs, they spend their life in a deeper denial.
Now, what breaks such a sleep? Yes, fortunately there are Job Interviews and Group discussions! They act as demolition charges under our Tazmahal of denial and complacence! We mostly wake up when we finish college and start tackling the campus interviews. Then, we confront the reality, as it is. Then, we start looking for solutions rather than tricks. But many of us manage to go back to sleep again! Such is the nature of stammering, alas! This is why we left those dots in the title :-)
This manual will take up principles of self help in seven main chapters. Every chapter will close with some suggested activities. First finish those activities, then get back for next lesson, instead of reading the whole book like a novel.

4 comments:

Dhruva Kathuria said...

Great start to the book,I would like to suggest a section on common people who stutter but still are very successful like Nina G,Ley Geddes,Hiten Vyas,etc,I would be willing to help in this,and also about people who have dissolved their stuttering to a large extent like jasbir sandhu,john harrison,and many others so readers can get an overall perspective and not my cure is the only cure philosophy.Just a suggestion

sachin said...

@Dhruva: yes, right. Let us have an appendix, sharing these stories. OR we can have a small paragraph, with a link to website section "Common men, uncommon stories". In this section we have collected biographies of many IPWS, who have achieved a lot WITH stammering (not after becoming fluent).. Do a search at stammer.in with these words : "Common men, Uncommon lives"

So, yes, do submit such biographies and we will develop a huge collection of inspiring stories.. (write your own too)

Roshan said...

Awesome Post.... While i'm reading the post, each and most of the situations are relating to me. I've seen me in such situations. Author wrote it very precisely and the way which everybody does commonly :p cant blame everybody, atleast myself i'm like that. Trying hard, no.. certainly not, assuming that i was and i'm trying hard to get rid of stammering, where i couldnt. I know posting this comment is not very useful for many of them. but for the people who is still thinking like me and after reading the above post also they will forget. But if they see a live example like me, then they should not leave the problem like this.

rakeshp said...

Yes indeed this is really informative and must know to all people who stammers the actual problem is they should accept that he has to improve his speaking and will help if he is ready to give hard efforts and dedication.