|About the presenter: Dritan Kici is from Tirano, Albania where he lives with his wife and two children. He is is a freelance journalist interested also in stuttering and communication research and is involved together with Michael Winkler in organizing Global Interhelp Community GIC, a Voluntary Informal Organization based on the NEED for Help and the Possibility to fulfill it. For more information visit http://dritankici.tripod.com and http://gic.tripod.com. Dritan is the director of the Easy Word Project in Albania and an advisory member of the International Stuttering Association Board of Directors.|
Is there a connection between war and stuttering? It seems there may be a connection and perhaps not just one. We call extreme conflict "war", but when it comes to human activity and psychology it is not just war as we understand the term related to fighting among and within nations.
During 1997-98 Albania passed through civil uprising that in some parts of the country became civil war or maybe just mayhem, where to kill a person was something easy and punishable only by the same way. It brought death and suffering to thousand of Albanian families. I had never thought that there may be some connection between wide extreme violence and stuttering, but about two years ago I was asked for help by the parents of an adolescent with severe stuttering. The young man was 14 years old and his stuttering had started during the conflict. I learned his story from the father. It was tragically simple. Someone had pointed a gun at the 7 year old child, who was terrified because he had seen first hand what the gun would do when fired. From that day the boy had exaggerated his bumpy speech into severe stuttering, particularly during stressful situations and in front of authority figures.
I needed very little time to understand his stuttering, which consisted primarily of silent blocks with barely visible physical struggle. He could just barely say his name. Anything else was a "big enterprise". Psychologically he had a real problem with staying alone or in groups of too many members. He remembered very well his ordeal, but not his stuttering which confused him.
This case made me think that maybe were more children like him. During the last two years I have probed 10 of 140 public schools in Tirana, Albania. Because of the overpopulation of schools there are about 1200 pupils in every school, with a total of something more then 12,000 children from the age of 6 to 14. Of interest for this paper are the 13 and 14 year old adolescents. Based on information provided by the teachers and the social workers of the schools the following was discovered:
At the end of these words the question again comes to my mind : Do we have more stutterers because of the war? I don't think so! Why then does it appear that there are more stuttering children out there? I believe that we have just an exaggeration of communication disorders in general. The children put through a violent and threatening situation will normally exaggerate all his or her feelings, particularly the negative ones. The war must look like a collective situation, but for the individual is it just a very dark and scary personal experience. With this logic it is safe to say that war does not produce stutterers, it just emphasize stuttering from mild to severe, making us think that there are more stutterers than normal. The same situation may be found in children subjected to other forms of prolonged violence.
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