|About the presenter: Carlos Montes-Aviles writes, "I was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. At the age of 9 I came to the U.S. along with my family looking for a better future. I received my undergraduate degree in communication sciences and disorders from Fort Hays State University and I am currently in my 2nd year of graduate school at Wichita State University, in Wichita Kansas. I am also a member of the NSA Wichita chapter. My goal is to become a speech-language pathologist to help others."|
The country of Mexico is a large country located in Latin America; bordered by the United States on the north, and by Belize and Guatemala on the south. While Spanish is spoken in various countries, Mexico continues to have the largest Spanish speaking population in the world with an estimated population of 112 million people.
While stuttering associations continue to evolve and expand worldwide, Mexico has also initiated the process to create a stuttering association to represent those who stutter. In Latin America, the only Spanish-speaking stuttering associations that currently exist are the Argentinean Stuttering Association and the Chile Stuttering Association; both associations are great role-models for future associations. Besides those two associations, there is an online support group known as TTM-L, which has served a huge role in Latin America by providing a forum where people who stutter can share their experiences. Dr. Pedro Rodriguez from Venezuela did not only create TTM-L, he also created ttmib.org, which gives great information about stuttering in Spanish.
Thanks to the TTM-L forum, people from Mexico have been able to come together to share ideas about a future stuttering association. People who stutter living in Mexico City and surrounding cities have met on a variety of occasions, while people living outside of the area are doing anything in their hands to help. We realize that a professional and well-organized association may take years to create, but we are all motivated to work hard in order to accomplish our goals with the association. Our current priorities include forming self-help groups, creating a web-site for the organization, initiating contact with speech-language pathologists in Mexico, and spreading the word about the future stuttering association as well as stuttering awareness within the general public.
The only self-help group in the country that is known to currently exist is the one that is forming in Mexico City. We want to be able to find leaders who stutter throughout Mexico who are willing to establish self-help groups in their cities. As we all know, the concept of self-help has evolved tremendously. It provides many great opportunities, such as meeting others who stutter, stuttering freely with no worries, time to practice techniques, and simply enjoying a space where stuttering is acceptable.
The website of the future association is currently under construction. It will be a very important tool for the association, as this site will be the place where people who stutter can find accurate facts and information about stuttering in Spanish. The web designer of the site will be Lenin Meza, a person who stutters from Mexico City who offered his expert services free of charge. It is extremely important to find people who are willing to put their time and effort into this project, which is something that we are still working on but we are off to a good start.
It is widely known that efficient speech therapy services for those who stutter are still lacking worldwide. While in some countries it may be possible to find good services, in others it is very difficult, and this is the case in Mexico. The field of speech-language pathology is a field that continues to emerge, with approximately 15 schools and institutes where speech-language pathologists are graduating every year. One of the schools even has a bilingual program in English and Spanish. These schools and institutes offer speech and language services, but unfortunately, very few people know that these services exist. It is not known how efficient stuttering therapy services are or what therapy techniques are being used the most. It is known that speech-language pathologist (SLP) in Mexico are not required to obtain a Master's degree like in the United States in order to practice as professionals. In some cases, psychologists are allowed to work with individuals with communication disorders after taking a variety of courses in the field.
Within the association we want to find out if all these schools and institutes are offering services for individuals who stutter. We also want to make contact with the professionals in these schools as well as with speech-language pathologists working in different settings. We do believe that by making these connections we will be able to create a better association. There are many challenges that arise when creating an association, especially for us, since we are barely in the beginning process. One of those challenges has been finding people who stutter, as well as finding people who are interested in helping with this project. We are hoping that by contacting schools with the speech-language pathology program and professional speech-language pathologists, that we will be able to get more help.
One of the ways that we are reaching out to people who stutter and to professionals is through the use of facebook. We begun using facebook in late July, and as of now, we have approximately 100 contacts. Through facebook we were able to meet the aunt of a young person who stuttered, who expressed her frustration of having to drive to Mexico City for services that were not helping her nephew at all. Days later a young teenage girl expressed to us how happy she was to find our facebook site, she had no previous knowledge about stuttering and the information that we had was very beneficial to her. In our facebook site we have facts and basic information about stuttering, stories of people who stutter, and a list of the schools that offer speech services in Mexico. We are currently in the process of adding more information. We believe that it is very important to take advantage of networking sites. They are free, and best of all, they are very popular. We will continue to market our association through facebook and in the future through myspace, youtube, hi5, Sonico, and Twitter. Networking sites differ in popularity by country, which is why we want to focus on the most popular sites in Mexico.
How is stuttering viewed in Mexico?
As most of us know, there is still plenty of work to be done in order to raise awareness about stuttering throughout the world. In Mexico, like in many other countries, very little is known about stuttering. Since little is known about stuttering, one of the best ways to deal with stuttering is by simply laughing at the disorder or by avoiding talking about it. One example of this is by typing the word "tartamudo" (stutterer) on youtube, the videos with the most hits are either jokes or songs related to stuttering. It is critical that we create this association in order to increase awareness within the general public. Our vision is that future generations of non-stutterers and persons who stutter receive appropriate information about stuttering as well as services.
As of now, we will continue to work hard to reach our goal of creating the organization. We will provide information and resources about stuttering in Spanish to professionals, persons who stutter, their families, and the general public. Here are some of the websites that we recommend the most due to their great content in Spanish: