Who needs help, he who stammers or he who doesn’t?

Many people who stammer are known to have gone to great lengths to avoid talking.

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“Being a Person Who Stammers (PWS) in India is being likened to a gay or lesbian person. Parents chide the child who stammers. The society does not accept people who stammer,” says Dehra Dun-based Dr Satyendra Srivastava, 50-year-old
general practitioner and community health social worker, who along with some PWS started The Indian Stammering Association (TISA) to generate awareness about stammering.

Srivastava and his friends met up on an e-network managed by Viren Gandhi from Mumbai, which has over 500 members from across the country. One percent of adult population stammers India has 11-12 million people who stammer.

“We do not get jobs, and if we do, we don’t make it to the top. Naturally, the person learns to associate shame, guilt and fear of rejection with stammering,” said Srivastava.

Saying something as simple “Yes, Sir” was “an unnerving experience,” recalled Birju Unudkut, 24.

Many people who stammer are known to have gone to great lengths to avoid talking. “We prefer writing, texting or e-mailing to talking,” explained Srivastava. The people in the e group know each other by their pseudonyms — Blue Warrior, Satsri, Aakash.

There are many communities, including three on social networking site Orkut and several e-groups for PWS. “We usually discuss our lives, problems we face on the forum. We also give each other comfort and support. Knowing that you are not alone definitely helps,” said Unudkut.

Srivastava said he gets several e-mail queries in a day from young boys and girls seeking help for appearing at interviews. Anxious parents e-mail him enquiring whether their child will stammer because one of the parents has the problem.

“It is such people who really need help, as they are ignorant about how to deal with the problem,” he added.

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