By NewsGram Staff Writer
Speech problems such as stammering or stuttering are often neglected as minor disorders. However, speech impediment is what lowers the self-esteem of millions of individuals and more often than not leads to social anxiety which further causes vicious ailments like depression, mania, insomnia among a host of other insidious disorders.
Stammering is analogous to an iceberg wherein the visible symptoms of stuttering float above the water, but the negative cognitive and emotional problems lie perniciously hidden underneath.
In India, stammering is looked down upon. People who stammer are discriminated against and mocked or scoffed at. According to statistical records, 11 to 12 million people in India stammer and it is a physiological disorder.
Speech therapy is highly expensive owing to the shortage of good speech therapists in India. Further, the government of India does not officially recognize the condition as a physical disability. But, people who stammer face many problems ranging from getting termed as an outcast to being labeled as an introvert. In every domain of the Indian society, be it a school or workplace, they are discriminated against.
The Indian Stammering Association (TISA) helps such people in an interactive way and unlike the usual “therapy and cure” way, it is meant for adults and children who stammer, their families and friends. It is less about “cure & therapy” and more about self-help, attitude and life beyond stammering.
TISA grew out of a Yahoo group started on 3 April 2001 by Viren Gandhi. By late 2010, the group had 576 members, contributing almost 6000 posts on issues like speech therapy reviews, self-help ideas and emotional support. The Indian Stammering Association launched its official website on 15 August 2009. It was formally registered as Public Charitable Trust Number 6055 on 13 November 2009. The trust’s head office is located in Herbertpur, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India.
The trust conducts self-help workshops, based on acceptance, breathing techniques and CALMS approach in various Indian cities. A model of the workshop is freely available on the internet. TISA promotes self-help groups in different cities and has made available a self-help manual that combines the modern approach to stammering with eastern concepts of self-acceptance, and produces a newsletter. TISA also participates in genetic research in stammering in India.
“It is a group of people who stammer. We do not have any experts or doctors and it is all about sharing experiences, communicating with each other and just supporting one another in the common issue that we all face,” says Dhruv Gupta from TISA.
The members of TISA meet at their Ghatkopar centre in Mumbai every weekend. The meeting is then followed by varied activities to engage the participants and make them interact with each other— they learn acceptance, gain confidence and are taught to communicate freely.
TISA also organizes various events and campaigns to raise awareness about the issue and an annual conference that aims at promoting a culture of guidance and support among PWS.