The average Nigerian comedian’s job will not be complete if he doesn’t make fun of stammerers/stutterers. They make a good job of it and we reel with laughter at the expense of others. I did not know better but now I know, I repent.
Disorders of any kind are difficult to deal with. One may not know how hard it is for anyone that is even a tad different from others to cope. The lack of self confidence, the inferiority complete, the unease and bullying from people are hard to handle. Stammering or stuttering is one of the disorders associated with speech. It is a speech disorder that is characterized with involuntary pauses, hesitations or repetitions while speaking. According to http://www.home-cure.net statistically, 1 out of every 4 child stammers. It is also a fact that about 68 million people stammer worldwide. Whew! That is a large number to be taken lightly.
There are a lot of factors that trigger stammering. Such factors could be physiological, neurological, psychological or environmental. Stammerers have difficulty in pronouncing words that start with B, D,G,K,P,T. These letters of the alphabets are plosives. The plosives are English consonants sounds produced by complete obstruction of the vocal cords followed by a release of air. Do this simple exercise to enable you to understand the plosive. Say the letter P. You will notice that there is a brief stop followed by a release of air. The same goes for K and the other plosives.
For a stammerer, he has the problem of not being able to control the muscles of the organs of speech. They have neuromuscular disorder. Medline Plus reported that neuromuscular disorder affects the nerves that control the voluntary muscles. The nerve cells or neurons send the messages that control the muscle. When the neurons become unhealthy, there is a cessation of communication between the nervous system and the muscles. As a result, the muscle weakens and waste way.
Is it the end of the world for stammerers? No. There is no medicinal cure for stammering. However, therapy and exercise help stammerers gain little or full control of their speech organs. Exercise should be done in a secluded place, preferably at night before bedtime. One of the exercise is to loudly and clearly pronounce the vowels A,E,I,O,U. There are some other exercises that can be found at http://www.home-cure.net.
Reading out loud and singing have been found to be a good form of exercise for the stammerer. A stammerer should work at voluntarily controlling his rhythm of words by implementing specific breathing pattern, take deep breaths from the belly and not the chest.
Stammerers need support, especially from their immediate family. Apart from being genetic, some learnt how to stammer. This is common among kids. Unfortunately, kids think that stammering is a cool way of talking when they hear their friends stammer. The next thing you know they are experimenting with it. If not nipped in the bud, it will be a difficult situation for the child. More than once, my kids have tried to imitate a stammerer. I am always quick to stop them. The world has no patience for a stammerer and that is so sad. We should be patient with stammerers and not be harsh nor judgemental. We should not allow the stammerer to be anxious as anxiety triggers severe stammering. Support them by trying to speak slowly and not interrupt them while they are talking. One golden rule to positively boost their confidence is to NEVER COMPLETE THEIR WORDS OR SENTENCES.
Speech therapists can also be consulted especially in chronic cases.
The world have people who stammered their way to fame and stardom. Winston Churchill, Tiger Woods, Bob Love, Frank Wolf, Marilyn Monroe, amongst others are known stammerers. John Stossel, a television personality said that, ‘the fear of stuttering can easily become worse than stuttering itself”.
You can click here to know more stuttering and free resources for stammerers and people that have stood against all odds.
If we can pause and realise that some were not born as stammerers but had neuromuscular problems due to trauma or sexual and physical abuse, we will realise that stammering is a NO JOKE topic.
October 22 is International Stuttering Awareness day. Now you have been informed, inform others. Create the awareness and share the love.