Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Over a period of four years, a group of persons have taken charge of their problem and tried to help others who, like them, stammer. It was the internet that brought the group together. It met in Mumbai in 2008 after several rounds of e-mails and formed The Indian Stammering Association (TISA).

The group's Chennai chapter was an initiative of two persons, V. Manimaran and Vishal Dadha, who realised that sharing their experiences helped them handle their disability. Now, the chapter has around 50 members who meet once a month.

At the first anniversary of the Chennai chapter of TISA on Saturday, the two founder members dispelled myths about the reasons for stammering. Addressing the gathering, Keith Boss, a trustee of British Stammering Association, said “We could try to change the stigma associated with stammering by talking more. When I am fluent I do not stammer. Speaking slowly and seeking more time to express in front of an audience will help,” he said.

Satyendra Kumar Srivastava (Sachin), a medial practitioner, said “Stammering can be managed by improving communication skills. Do not live in falsehood and deny your disability. We have launched self-help groups in 12 cities in the country. The members are volunteers who reach out to children.”

“At the SHG meetings we speak our heart out,” Mr. Manimaran said. “Those who stammer are stressed in their mind. To avoid stammering, you have to plan from the morning what to speak. This stresses my mind. Now I have accepted my disability and I know there are times I do not stutter.” As for Mr. Dadha, the group helped him gain confidence. “I still stammer a lot but I have gained confidence. I run my own company. My stammering does not make a difference to the clients as long as I can provide the services,” he said.

In May 2008, the association started a blog t-tisablogspot.com which, Dr. Sachin said provides a forum that “helps free mind from the negative effects of past experience.”