Still a taboo in Mauritius, stammering affects approximately 1% of the population, more precisely some 12,000 Mauritians. Second language pathology after death, stammering is a disorder related to the individual as well as his environment.

Stammering Blues

However, if diagnosed early enough and appropriate measures are taken, stammering can be overcome. A new organization, Association Parole d’Espoir (APE), has taken up the challenge of making the voice of those suffering from stammering, heard. For the official launch of the association, APE has invited Mrs. Anne Marie Simon, a French speech therapist for the last 25 years. She has been training speech therapists for the last 10 years or so in Europe and has just conducted a training session for the therapists in Reunion Island.

Every, stammers have to face ridicule and mockery because of their disorder. This impairs their development as a person and very often influences them when having to choose a career orientation. The most difficult for stammers is that they are afraid of talking of their problem. But what is stammering about? Stammering is not a speaking inaptitude, as most people think but a relation and communication disorder. To stammer, an individual has to be confronted to another person. Stammers express themselves surprisingly clearly whenever they are engaged in self-talk, but whenever in direct interaction with a peer, they lose their expression capacities and stutter. The last decade has seen an increase in the number of studies carried out on the subject and research has shown a ten-fold increase while calls for information about stammering have also been multiplied by ten. However, despite all the research and studies that have been conducted worldwide, the origins and causes of stammering are still unknown.


Until now, specialists have not been able to explain why boys are three times more prone to suffer from stammering than girls. Heredity is also a strong factor. In fact parents suffering from stammering have three times more chances of passing this disorder to their offspring. Being a stammer is a construction. According to Mrs. Simon, there are no child-stammers, but children who are suffering from stammering, thus being a stammer way of life. With time and experience stammers adopt behaviors that very often are negative for the proper development of the personality.

Many are those stammers who develop an arsenal of strategy to deal with their social encounters, stripping their relations of ease and spontaneity this results very often in the loss of their identity. A child has not yet developed all the responsive attitudes that will handicap him later in life. Stammering is firstly a mental construction. The more you live as a stammer and see yourself as such, the more you will reinforce the image which will generate attitude and reactions of a stammer. The latter will construct an identity different from his own determined by stammering influencing his professional, personal and family choices.

Some stammers find it easier to live with stammering, using it as an excuse for their unhappiness and failure. When confronted to stammering, one tends to withdraw from social interactions, adopting a defensive attitude in his lifestyle and communication patterns. Many stammers tend to prepare their phrase and sentences well in advance in order not to put themselves into delicate and potentially dangerous situations. A deep feeling of inadequacy and uncertainty dwell in the stammers and they tend to keep what they have to say for themselves fearing ridicule and mockery.


The social image that is generally conveyed of stammers is one that makes them think they are less intelligent that other kids. Stammering adolescents have a particularly hard time at school when confronted to class poetry or speaking aloud where their peers and sometimes teachers ridicule them.

Unfortunately teachers have not been adequately trained to deal with such problems. Indeed they tend to react negatively to such students. Thinking they are dumb just adds to the suffering they get from their inability to communicate adequately.

This is why prevention and information are essential to each and everyone for a proper integration of stammers to social life. But what can be the solution to stammering? There are no magical solutions to stammering. There is a re-educative aspect attached to the therapy that stammers go through. The therapy is about enabling the individual to develop his social talents, looking into the gestures, mannerism, postures and pronunciations. Stammering is a communication disorder and if we enable the individual to develop the social and communication skills, he will communicate effectively without being the subject of ridicule and mockery.

Studies have indeed shown that stammering can be eliminated by 95 to 97 percent if the individual is taken in charge before he or she is four and half years old. This critical age marks the end of a particular development phrase for the child who has during this period developed his motor, physical and cognitive abilities. The treatment has to deal with all the aspects of communication, whether verbal or non verbal, for them to become competent in social skills. Parents should intervene as soon as possible. Unfortunately when dealing with stammering children, parents tend to adopt a very educative approach.

“Take your time”, “calm yourself” or “repeat what you have just said” are sentences and recommendations which, though apparently normal and logical when dealing with stammering kids, on the contrary affect them to a great extent making them feel inadequate. The most precious advice to parents when they notice their children stammer, they should ask for help as soon as possible. Very often, parents feel disoriented when they notice that their child stammers but now there is an association to get the necessary information about this communication disorder. It is very frustrating for a stammer to be misunderstood or having to repeat himself many times.

The complexity of stammering could leave one helpless but studies have proved that if measures are taken early enough, this disorder can be overcome.

Author's Bio: 

André Lee is the Internet Marketing consultant, Advisors to Tour Operators and Ticketing Agents. More of his articles are available at

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