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‘Hiding makes problem worse’

mumbai Updated: Oct 22, 2009 00:56 IST
Naziya Alvi
Naziya Alvi
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Job interviews can scare us all but for Jugal (22), who stutters, applying for a call centre job was quite a challenge.

Despite repeated rejections, Jugal did not give up. He finally cracked an interview and now works for a call centre as a senior executive.

“I handled the interview tactfully. I talked slowly and practiced hard before going for it. Also, the interviewer was understanding and encouraging,” said Jugal, who is a member of The Indian Stammering Association (TISA), a self-help group started by people who suffer from speech-related problems.

On the occasion of World Stuttering Day on Thursday, Jugal’s story will inspire others who live with speech defects.

Growing up with a speech problem can be quite traumatic given the insensitive attitude and jokes. Even actor Hrithik Roshan, who overcame his stutter, has narrated how he struggled to say, “Thank you Dubai,” at an international award function.

Dr Ramesh Oza, who treated Roshan, said stuttering is a problem of the brain and not the tongue. “When given a environment free of fear, most people who stutter show signs of improvement,” he said.

The speech therapist sees nearly eight to 10 fresh patients every week. Nanavati Hospital, where Dr Oza heads the Audiology and Speech Therapy department, has treated 535 patients in the last two years.

Some of the patients now get together once in two weeks as part of TISA, which started last year and has 100 members across India, at Sant Dayaneshwar Udyan Park in Dadar to share their woes and successes.

“Our meetings include activities like group discussions and confidence building. Anyone interested can check our website, www.t-tisa.blogspot.com, and join for free,” said Ajit Potdhar, who works for a telecom company.

“The first step is to accept our problem. Most of us get nervous while talking and stammer even more when we try to hide it,” Potdhar added.

Dr Oza said when a child is brought for treatment, it is the parents who are given repeated counselling sessions.