About the presenter: Vivek Singh is from Pune, Maharashtra, India. He is the youngest of three children and has been interested in science since 10th grade. Currently he is a computer engineer. He is interested in social networking, reading, watching movies, travel, and competing in cricket, football, pool, foosball, chess, table tennis, and computer games. He also plays guitar and the keyboard and enjoys singing

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2011.

My Journey as a Stammerer

by Vivek Singh
from India

I'm an Indian Person Who Stammers.

I started stuttering when I was about 4-5 years old. At first I was a very mild stutterer but as I got older, especially whenever I was put to test, I used to crumble or crack like a cookie. I began to avoid certain situations that would put me on the spot or out of my comfort zone. I tried very hard to hide my stutter from people.

My father was in para-military forces so every 2.5-3.0 years we used to get transferred and I always used to say to myself, "this time when I go to a new place & when I make new friends I will not let them know that I stutter."

When I was in the 8th grade, my father was transferred from down south to the western part of the country. I was successfully able to hide my stutter for 1.5 years. In fact, I started to believe that I've gotten rid of my stutter as I could easily answer roll call, I would always raise my hand and answer the questions in the class, I would participate in elocution competitions and win prizes.

But suddenly something happened. One day a classmate of mine came up to me and told me that he just noticed me fumbling when I was cracking a joke. I just dismissed it and said, "Oh, it tends to happen sometimes with me but its not a big deal."

But that started playing on my mind -- every time when I would speak that thing would still be there at the back of my head. Then I started noticing myself that I was starting to fumble on words at times. I stopped answering questions in the class.

My teachers would nominate my name in speech competitions and I would go and give some lame excuse and withdraw my name from the competition. Once my Biology teacher was so insistent that she said, "No, you're going to prepare on this topic and speak in the morning assembly. I've already submitted your name." I skipped school that day and my teacher (I was kind of her pet up to that point), stopped talking to me directly. Then slowly my stutter started getting worse but was still manageable until 12th grade.

My real struggle started when I was selected in an Engineering degree program and had to move out of my house and stay in the hostel with my contemporaries. My stutter suddenly turned from mild to very severe.

My exposure to AISH (All India Speech and Hearing Institute) was the turning point in my life. It is a government run academy where speech pathologists and other speech related specialists get their degree, and as a part of their internship/curriculum, they help out cases with speech related problems for a very nominal amount. Currently I'm running a corporate self help group for stammerers and it has given me a lot of confidence and courage to confront the demons of stuttering. Now I can confidently say that I've totally desensitized myself and I can communicate effectively with others in spite of my stutter.

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the author before October 22, 2011.

SUBMITTED: July 2, 2011
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