So, if you are too tired to speak, sit next to me, because I, too, am fluent in silence. –R. Arnold
My name is Sunil Kumar. I am 23 years old male PWS. I am from Sikar, Rajasthan. I completed my B.tech in Bio-technology from National Institute of Technology Durgapur, West Bengal in 2015. Currently, I am preparing for SSC CGl examination. I have been stuttering since I could remember. I am the only one among three generations of my family and all the near relatives of my family who stutter. My parents tell that I suffered from severe Pneumonia (A respiratory disease characterized by inflammation of the lung parenchyma (excluding the bronchi) with congestion caused by viruses, bacteria or irritants), when I was one or two years old. That time I became very weak. They think this is the reason behind my stuttering. I also believe my parents because Pneumonia is a respiratory illness and stuttering has got everything to do with our respiratory system. Sometimes I find difficulty in speaking because my lungs are out of air. Many a time words doesn’t come out of my mouth.
I did my initial schooling in my village. My childhood was like any other normal child in village. I used to give speech in school on occasions like Children’s Day, Gandhi Jayanti etc till 8thclass. During my speech, I used to stutter a lot; still my teachers encouraged me to speak. Slowly, I started feeling that I am not like everybody else and I became shy and I was losing my confidence. Owing to lack of knowledge and awareness then, my grandmother used to think it was because of a curse from some Devi-Devta.
In 10th class, I was 3rd topper of my school. My parents has always considered me a bright kid therefore they admitted me to an IIT-JEE coaching institute in Sikar. There, I stopped caring about my stuttering still, I hesitated to ask my doubts and talk about my problems to the teachers. As a result, I couldn’t get selected in IIT-JEE with 12th class. My parents sent me Kota, Rajasthan so I could get admitted to a better coaching institute. I worked very hard. There, they reshuffle students on the basis of the performance in monthly tests. There were total 25 batches. Initially, I was in RH5 batch. In the first test, I did very well and I was promoted to RH1 batch. I was very happy. I was feeling myself closer to my dream of getting into an IIT. But unfortunately, it was not my destiny. After 3-4 months, I started to have constant severe headaches and those headaches continued till my IIT-JEE exam. I couldn’t concentrate in my studies. Therefore, I couldn’t make to an IIT. In AIEEE, I got a rank just good enough to get me a seat in an NIT.
I was allotted biotechnology in NIT Durgapur. I did not get to choose what I wanted to study because my rank in AIEEE was not good. Still, I was happy because NITs are institutes of national importance and I got admission in one of them. NIT Durgapur is infamous for ragging. In initial days, I couldn’t talk to anybody. Most of the times, I remained silent, I couldn’t tell even my name when seniors asked me. I found it very difficult to respond on my roll calls for attendance in the class. Many times I used to skip attendance. Deep inside I was feared that I would not be able to make new friends. I did not know if I would be able to survive there but, I did. Gradually, I started adapting myself to the new environment. Things started to change, I made some new friends and seniors also started being co-operative and friendly. Till then, I was running away from stuttering and hoping that one day some miracle would happen and my stuttering would just vanish and I would speak with fluency. But that was a false and mistaken belief.
I realised one thing that I can‘t always run away from situations where I have to speak and express myself. There was nothing I knew that I could do about my speech. I have a friend (6-7 years older than me) who was pursuing his MBBS that time. I called him, we discussed about stuttering and how I was feeling. He told me to visit a speech therapist. After 3 months in college, I came home for vacations. I discussed about stuttering with my father and told him about speech therapy. He took me to a speech therapist in Jaipur the very next day. She suggested me some exercises for my mouth and tongue and asked me if I can visit her regularly for next 15-20 days. It was not possible for me, since my college was starting next week. I practiced, what she advised me for few days, but I didn’t find those exercises of any help.
When I was returning to college, I saw a sticker of another speech therapist in the toilet of the train. I searched about him on internet and I thought he could help me. After my 1st year in college, I went to him. He claims that he is a recovered PWS and he can cure stuttering. I was taken by his words and the fact that I desperately needed any help to cure my stuttering. I joined his course for 20 days .There were 30-40 other PWS. He doesn’t have any degree like MBBS or any other speech disorder specialisation. He taught us a distorted version of prolongation technique (that we practice in SHG meetings). He told us to speak every letter of each word in prolonged manner like mmmmyyyyy nnnnnnaaammmee iiiissss ssssssuuuuunnnnniiillllll. He told us to speak by singing. Following his methods, I felt embarrassment. According to him, we should speak less and avoid stuttering at any cost. I practiced his techniques for 2-3 months. By using his techniques, I got little fluency, but his methods made me more conscious about my stuttering. Sometimes my efforts to avoid stuttering made situation worse and I ended up stuttering very badly. I tried to follow his methods for almost one year. But instead of controlling my stuttering his methods brought more stress to me. I used to think, I was not practicing enough and properly.
These are my two failed attempts with speech therapy. Next one year (my third year in college), I again ignored my stuttering. One day, I was attending a class of my HOD (head of the department). He asked me a question, which I tried to answer but I stuttered very badly and couldn’t complete my answer. He told us that he also used to stutter till 10th class in school and his stuttering was worse than mine. He also said that stuttering may be a result of gene mutation (it was a genetics class). He asked me to visit him in his office after the class. I went to him. He told me about his encounter with stuttering and that his stuttering was cured by homeopathic medicines. He suggested me to visit a homeopathic doctor. I tried homeopathy for 3-4 months but I did not get any positive results.
There was a personality development class in 6th semester, where we had group discussions, debate and mock interviews. I never attended those classes because I was afraid of stuttering in front of whole class. In my entire engineering course, in all laboratory subjects in which we had a viva, I got either C or D grade. I never participated in any extracurricular activity and kept myself aloof from girls in my entire college life, which I regret now.
Final year of college started, many companies were visiting our campus for placement. Other students were preparing what they would speak in interview and I was worrying about how I would speak. One day, I was searching on internet about interview tips for PWS. This is when I came to know about TISA. I read 30-40 articles from TISA blog that day. I downloaded self help book (Apna Hath Jagganath) and read the whole book the same day. I was feeling some hope. I joined Google hangout, there I met Nenad, Alok, Vishal and others. I sat in 5 companies for placement. I cleared written examination of 3 companies, but I couldn’t clear even 1st round of personal interview of all three companies. I thought, it was because I stutter. Later after some analysis and discussion with friends, I realised it wasn’t completely because of stuttering but it was due to lack of preparation. I joined Vipassana meditation, 10 Days course. I felt good and a bit relaxed after that course. After vipassana course, I went to college. It was last semester of college life, so I chose enjoying college life over practicing vipassana.
After completing college I came to Jaipur. I called Ravikant Sharma, who was co-ordinator of Jaipur SHG group that time. Now, he is excise inspector in Banglore. I joined Jaipur SHG and met some amazing people Chandar Prakash Goyal, Anurag choudhary, Soumya Saxena and Ravi Bhaiya. By attending SHG meetings I realised one thing that we shouldn’t run after fluency instead we should focus on improving our overall communication skills. I always wanted to meet Sachin Sir and attend NCs and other communication workshops, but, owing to lack of time, distance and financial constraints, I was never able to do so. I hope to attend communication workshop in Jaipur on 18-19 March and meet Sachin Sir there.