About the presenter: Jonas Berinyuy writes, "I am a college teacher in Douala, Cameroon, West Africa, where one would hardly find a practicing speech specialist. I have a mild stutter and have always felt very bad whenever I stumble over a word. I stuttering severely at the age of six and had a very difficult time in school. Stuttering greatly concealed my intelligence and slowed my progress. From the day I got help through the Speak Clear Association of Cameroon and joined a support group, things have never been the same. I am a Christian and love reading the Bible. I am a member of the Speak Clear Association of Cameroon (SCAC) and work as a speech counselor and a member of the International Fluency Association.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2010.

Stuttering, A Bond of Unity. "Birds of a Feather Flock Together"

by Jonas Berinyuy
from Cameroon, West Africa

I am overwhelmed taking back my mind to the First ever African Conference in Cameroon where a Famous Cameroonian Artist by name M. Solo thrilled the crowd as he welcomed the conference delegates in a song entitled "birds of a feather flocked together". It was a great historical event.

I had a dream and the dream was that ISAD 2010 and Argentina 2010 world conference will gather the greatest attendance in the history of stuttering. I believe this is a perfect year of gathering of champions. My dream first took me to South Africa at the world cup where I represented my Country as a goalkeeper in a full squad of 22 stuttering players. In my dream I was privileged to be among the first best 22 stutterers in the national selection hahaha !!. If Joseph the greatest dream interpreter in the Bible were here to interpret my dream then he would say nothing less than that stuttering has made me great.

Every stutterer has a dream. A dream to become great. A dream to become more than a conqueror, and above all, a dream to become the best stutterer. Many have seen stuttering to be a gift, Some consider it a new way of speaking, nevertheless, no man would give a bad name to his child in whom he is already well pleased. .

My paper aims at sensitizing people on the necessity stutterers coming together as birds of the same feather and the joy and experiences attendees benefit. What I am writing about is a narration of my experience. The first conference I attended changed my life. I heard about horrible testimonies that gave me so much courage and confidence

Knowledge got in the conference through various therapies require follow-up. Another come together in a smaller unit known to as self help support groups are necessary. These meetings are an ideal place to work on emphasizing the desirable modifications procedures designed to help one become a better communicator.

Adopting The Right Concept of Self help support groups.

The concept of self-help or support group for PWS is not a new thing. I would like to touch upon the real role of self-help groups for people who stutter. I believe that the role of a self-help group is to allow its members to support each other through speaking and listening. If we focus only on the cure of the disorder, we may promote the idea that the disorder is a bad thing and one may feel that he/she should get rid of it. This creates a negative self-image. So we must focus primarily on self-acceptance, striving to grow within ourselves, and learning to live well with stuttering. Self-help groups must have a collaborative approach in the establishment of a relationship of mutual trust and respect between client and clinician who act in a group as a coach.

Many people suffer from different disorders in life. If someone has tried all he can to be cured of his/her disorder and finally finds no healing, he/she may suffer alone. What happens is that this person will be very worried and the stress may go round in circles and he may sink in misery. At that time, if he meets other people who have similar experiences and he talks about his experience or his worries in his own words, and he is listened to attentively by them, he can explore another way of living. When stutterers meet other stutterers and learn and share experiences, they feel relieved and start thinking positive about themselves and strive to live with stuttering.

One of the most critical and difficult phases of therapy is to transfer the progress gained in a therapeutic setting to real life or day to day situations. It is my belief then that developing or incorporating a support system must be included in any therapy for stuttering. Support group meetings provide an excellent opportunity for individuals to practice skills learned in therapy. The non-threatening and nurturing atmosphere provides an ideal opportunity to extend treatment from the therapeutic setting. In addition by encouraging such practice the individual involved in therapy is not the only one who benefits. Others attending meetings benefit by being educated about a particular therapeutic philosophy as well as specific treatment techniques. The process of explaining to others the specifics of one's therapy is a powerful reinforcing tool and is a further benefit to the client.

What then really happens in the self-help groups?

We all have various painful experiences. For example, we may not be able to say our name or be understood when we talk to other people. Talking in front of a group helps to build confidence something badly needed by stutterers. Participating in this kind of group may help you develop a better insight and understanding of how others react to their communicators.

In the self-help group, by seeing one person talking about his painful experience and other people listening to him in earnest, you can feel you are O.K. to talk about yourself here. Then, after you have talked about your experience, the following things may happen.

  1. You may feel that a heavy weight has been lifted off your shoulder.
  2. You may be able to see yourself much more clearly.
  3. You may realize it is O.K. to be worried.
  4. You may feel like you are in the company of old friends, though you have only recently met these people.
  5. By sharing information, you can see your stuttering objectively.
  6. You can develop a new sense of values and you can create a positive lifestyle.
One of the most important roles that self-help/support organizations have is to advocate for people who stutter and to educate the public. Stuttering has always been associated with a negative stereotype by the public. This stereotype has been partly responsible for many of the negative feelings that stutterers have about themselves. It has also led to erroneous negative attitudes many employers possess that lead to discrimination in the workplace. By educating society about stuttering self-help/support organizations help to create an environment that is perceptually as well as genuinely less hostile toward stutterers. A more positive outcome to treatment should be aided by removing the stigma associated with stuttering.

I believe that the role of self-help/support groups in determining the outcome of stuttering therapy can be significant. The key to that role is the realization that formal therapy and participation in a support group are viewed as distinctly different by people who stutter. Both are important to the successful long term management of this most perplexing of speech disorders.

It has been gratifying to participate in helping to bridge the gap between speech-language pathologists and consumer-based self-help/support group organizations over the past few years. We have much to learn from and to teach one another. The foundation for the continued growth of the relationship will be mutual respect and understanding. Participating in conferences, self-help groups and International Stuttering Awareness Day are important milestones because they include world wide efforts between consumers and professionals to work together to improve the lives of children and adults who stutter.

The place of a stuttering association

Problems arise when a stutterer is confronted with someone ignorant about stuttering. When such a person meets a stutterer, he doesn't know which way to look. Both the listener and the stutterer feel uncertain. Tension rises and nervousness increases. It may be the first time this person ever heard a stutterer speak. There aren't a lot of people who stutter, and many stutterers are careful not to expose themselves, speaking little.

Many stutterers choose a profession which requires little talking as well. This brings them into less contact with the outside world and means that the outside world is less exposed to stuttering. Another vicious circle develops. Many stutterers keep to themselves and do not speak about their stuttering. They are scared, anxious, and fear that the outside world will not accept them. But how can the outside world accept them if they never meet the stutterer? It is only when people have stutterers among them that they can learn to value and accept them.

Stuttering associations bring stutterers together which helps them deal with their stuttering and with other people. Stutterers can connect with others who stutter and realize they are not alone. As understanding deepens, self-respect increases. Healthy self-respect is excellent armour for a person who stutters.

It is remarkable how others accept stutterers once they become more familiar with stuttering. Some say they no longer even notice it. They have become used to it. Others simply accept stutterers for their many diverse qualities. There are even people who accept stutterers precisely because they have demonstrated that they can deal with a difficult problem (stuttering) in a healthy manner. They admire stutterers when they see how they are able to "wrestle" through an impending stutter.

A stutterers' association made up of former stutterers who can now speak fluently would be meaningless. Such people may speak patronizingly of other stutterers because they have "made it." They got through. They can control their speech. They found the "right path." This attitude can make the stutterer feel even more of a failure. He is even more alone. Others have made it to the shore and he is alone in the stormy waters.

A stuttering association can reach the outside world through the media which can provide a balanced, fair picture of a significant group of people for whom speech is difficult. The media can reach a broad public, breaking through the stutterer's isolation. It can give unknown stutterers the feeling that they are not the only ones with this problem. Information campaigns such as the annual International Stuttering Awareness Day can also be helpful.

Blessings of Stuttering - How stuttering has expanded my comfort zone.

  1. The first international conference I ever attended was on stuttering
  2. The real first occasion I appeared on TV was during the African stuttering conference.
  3. I was invited for the first time to a TV programme to talk about stuttering last October 2009
  4. The first paper I have ever written in life is on stuttering.

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the author before October 22, 2010.

SUBMITTED: September 1, 2010
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