Monday, 23 April 2012

Sweden: Anita Blom

Stuttering, disability or handicap?

When I started to stutter, I was 9 years (yes, that late). From that day my life was limited. My parents did not want me to speak in public or even to family.At school I do not answer the questions, and laughed aloud at all so, I did. The teachers told me that there was no sense that I would read the language I would not get anywhere with my stuttering. The job I wanted, I could not because of my stuttering. The grade that I wanted, I could not because of the stuttering. The friends that I wanted, I could not because of my stuttering. I was forced into a small box and excluded from society. And I let it happen.
Look at me today. I have gone back to school and received the highest rating. I have made ​​many friends who take me as I am with stuttering and all. My family is proud of me. Speaking in public is the best I know. I travel around the world to talk about stuttering in different languages, THANKS TO my stuttering.And best of all, I got my dream job: I work with computers in school. I love computers and I love people and in this job, I combine the two. I can be something that others can just as well. Others are limited in their ignorance of the data while I have a lot of freedom because of my knowledge. I can be something that others want and my stuttering is not in the way anymore. On the contrary, my stuttering has decreased considerably and is sometimes hardly noticeable.  

So what I'm saying is: sure, my stuttering is a disability that causes it sometimes. But stuttering is not a handicap until someone (your surroundings, but even you yourself) makes it a handicap. So do not let anyone set your limits. You notice your limitations when you meet them. And even then, they should stop you. Test your limits. Route them. Is it not, then you have all tried to fall. Stuttering is not something you ARE. It's just one of many things you do.

Friday, 6 April 2012

India : Ravi Singh

I have very nice memories of my high school years, met many interesting people and learned a lot about myself. But  in some way memories of primary school was always holding me back. Back then many classmates and unfortunately some of the teachers made fun of me. Over and over again I asked myself the same question “Why me? Why not someone else?” Not only did I wonder why me, when I was growing up I used to think it must be somebody's fault.

Primary school years were the hardest years of my life, but those horrible experiences made me who I am today. The hardest job on the planet for me was to say "Present mam" during roll call. I learned how to fight for myself and not allow other people to judge me based on my speech.  Now I’m a stronger person , but before I realize this I had one serious breakdown at age 15.

In India the main problem is that our legislation does not protect us. It  describes rights and defines adjustments for every group of people with special needs, except for people with speech and language disorders. So according to the law we don’t have any rights. There are legal documents which provide measures to prevent discrimination towards people with special needs and to increase participation and inclusion for people with special needs. Again - not for all groups of people with special needs - we are once again forgotten.
Also we do not have equal job opportunities. There is a lack of  stuttering awareness  in Indian  society. Most people  do not know what stuttering is. While others think they know "everything" there is to know about stuttering, but everything they know, they learned from watching movies and listening to jokes about stuttering .  Because stuttering awareness  very low society there are many prejudices. Many assume people who stutter are shy, not very clever, lazy, nervous, unsociable, and very strange. Another common view is that PWS are alcoholics or psychiatric patients. 

Most of the specialists in India surprisingly comment ‘Ignore the problem, it will be cured by itself when you grow up' – it is a passing phase. This suggestion is entirely wrong. By going against the stream and with my vast experience, my conception is that do not sit idle with the hope that it will be cured when you grow up. If luckily you get cured after 20 or 30 years, by then you would have missed the golden part of your life. Do not postpone, act immediately to overcome this major defect in your speech.

I think we should stop crying about what we don’t have and be thankful for what we have.  It is said, that if you cry because the sun has disappeared from the sky, the tears will prevent you from seeing the beauty of the stars. I'll probably never talk without stutter, but that’s alright. I still can achieve so many things in my life. I see my stuttering as my unique way of talking.

Besides what I already mentioned above, our everyday experiences is that some people are making fun of us, they laugh at us, speak very childish, loud and slowly, so we could understood what they are trying to say to us, use only short sentences as if there was something wrong with our intelligence. Some people don't even listen to us, others are full of advices how to talk and breathe so we won't stutter, or even feel sorry for us

I think that the first step to deal with stuttering is to stop hiding and running away from  fearful situations . Wondering why I stuttered, and crying about it did not make things easier.  But using my stutter to my advantage made my life better!

                                                       Center : Ravi Singh