Do we know that today is International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) or World Stammering Awareness Day? perhaps it is big No! because society does not seem to appreciate stammering or stuttering, as problem to engage a national discourse and be escalated on a global platform.
But to foster inclusiveness and to realize the global commitment of leaving no one behind in sustainable development, October 22 was designated ISAD in 1998, 16 years ago, to raise public awareness of stuttering, which affects one percent of the world’s population.
Stammering is a communication disorder that society appears to make fun of rather than getting around it.
The World Stammering Awareness Day is all about educating people the complexity of the disorder, work towards its prevention in children, create awareness about the speech therapies available and to promote research to find the cause of the communication disorder, in which the flow of the person’s speech is broken by repetitions (li-li-like this), prolongations (lllllike this), or abnormal stoppages (no sound) of sounds and syllables, which can draw funs from others who see it as joke.
Globally, it is estimated that more than 70 million of the population suffer this communication disorder (stammer or stutter), known to affect four times as many males as females.
The cause of this disorder is not well-known, but four factors are said to be most likely to contribute to the development of stuttering.
It is estimated that genetics (approximately 60% of those who stutter have a family member who does also); child development (children with other speech and language problems or developmental delays are more likely to stutter);
neurophysiology (recent neurological research has shown that people who stutter process speech and language slightly differently than those who do not stutter); and family dynamics (high expectations and fast-paced lifestyles can contribute to stuttering).
Stammers or stutters are not outcasts, people who have such disabilities go on to have successful life and are role-model for society, example of global figures of stammers are Emily Blunt, James Earl Jones, John Stossel, Bill Walton, Mel Tillis, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Carly Simon, Annie Glenn, Ken Venturi, Bob Love, John Updike, King George VI.
Can stuttering be treated? Yes, there are a variety of successful approaches for treating both children and adults. For instance, the Istammer web app is a fine example of a creative, homegrown solution to challenges faced by
persons with stammers, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ghana Stammering Association (GSA) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Ghana AccLab Ghana COVID-19 Innovation Challenge, has created the Istammer web app, as a virtual platform for persons with stammer to log on for support from professional speech therapists, to teach them how to control their speech and their language fluency.
Executive Director of GSA, Elias Apreko, said since 2013 the association has been leading efforts at addressing challenges face by stammers in the country. He says though there has not been any research to establish the number, a conservative figure of one percent of the population of Ghana has the communication deficiency.
Mr Apreko underscores the need for funding to conduct research into stammering to understand the disorder and find solutions to address the challenge to ensure inclusiveness.
“We are addressing the internalised feelings of the persons with stammer; the fear, lack of self-confidence, the anxiety, their inability to take up jobs due to their disorder, once they overcome these negative feelings, the speech disorder will automatically be over
overcome,” Mr Apreko added.
“Congratulations to the Ghana Stammering Association. The UNDP Accelerator Lab looks forward to collaborating further with innovators and entrepreneurs to support Ghana’s efforts to build forward better,” Dr Allen Annie, Head of Experimentation Accelerator Lab said in solidarity with the launch of the Istammer web app.
He explained that the UNDP Accelerator labs were designed to accelerate learning in order to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, a series of ambitious objectives and targets to achieve three extraordinary things by 2030: end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change.
The Labs are currently in 91 locations supporting 115 countries across the globe, including Ghana.
In solidarity with persons with stammer and to promote inclusive society so that we don’t leave anyone behind, let us be aware of the ‘rules of engagement” with them.
1. Don’t rush conversation and avoid seeming a hurry to get away
2. Maintain good eye contact as a much as possible
3 Demonstrate good listening skills through good use of body language.
4 Show an interest in what they have to say rather than pity or be impatient with how they are talking.
5. Avoid asking him/or her to slow down or take a deep breath whilst they are talking
6. Never tease a person with a stammer because it can easily damage their confidence.
7. Keep your own speech at even pace.
8. Read about stammering and how you can make talking easier for people who stammer.
Globally, It Is Estimated That More Than 70 Million Of The Population Suffer This Communication Disorder (Stammer Or Stutter), Known To Affect Four Times As Many Males As Females.
It is estimated that genetics (approximately 60% of those who stutter have a family member who does also); child development (children with other speech and language problems or developmental delays are more likely to stutter)
BY SALIFU ABDUL-RAHAMAN