|About the author: ADEYEMI AKINTUNDE, 29, is a founder of the Stuttering Association of Nigeria. He studied accounting at Osun State Polytechnic and economics at Bowen University in Iwo, Osun State Nigeria. He now manages his family business, is a person who stutters and a long-time participant in self-help organizations for people who stutter. Over the past few years he has presented papers to large audiences at self-help organizations for people who stutter. He’s a member of the board of trustees of the stuttering association of Nigeria and also an active member of the association and a co-founder of the association. He’s currently working on organising the 3rd African Stuttering Congress in Nigeria a bilingual congress, which will be held between Mon 27th– Thurs 30th October 2014 together with the other members of his organising team www.africa2014.isastutter.org. Anyone interested in joining the organising team should contact firstname.lastname@example.org|
Speaking or communicating for most people is not a problem. They can easily express their minds and share ideas through speech without much stress. However, for some, it is a problem for them to express themselves through speech because of their stuttering or stammering condition. Stuttering, also known as stammering, is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongation of sounds, syllables, words or phrases, as well as involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the person who stutters is unable to produce sounds. (Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopaedia).
The effect of this fluency disorder goes beyond the speech or message to be passed across and has profound effect on the stutterer’s social interactions, as well as his psychological/emotional responses, especially when in a hostile and discriminatory environment.
In the developed nations, like the USA and the UK, conscious efforts have been made to address the needs of people who stutter (PWS), to help them overcome or manage their stuttering through speech language therapy and counselling.
In Africa and other developing nations, such support for PWS is not easy to come across. Though there is no known cure for Stuttering, providing psychological/emotional support through speech language therapy/counselling would go a long way in helping PWS gain confidence and skills to handle their stuttering and associated emotional stress.
It is against this background that the Stuttering Association of Nigeria (SAN) came into being. The idea to start the association started in 1997 when Mr. Adeyemi Akintunde (himself a PWS) experienced various challenges both at home and in the school, which put him under emotional stress and anxiety that made it difficult for him to express himself. The association was finally formed and registered in 2006, to serve as a platform for PWS, teachers, parents and other stakeholders to come together to; support PWS, enlighten the public on stuttering and facilitate access of PWS to speech therapy/counselling.
SAN is a member of the International Stuttering Association (ISA). ISA organizes the World Congress for People Who Stutter in different parts of the developed world every three years. The ISA has also been in the fore front of ensuring that African countries organize stuttering awareness conferences, to enlighten the people and provide some leverage to help people who stutter and their families understand stuttering. The first African Stuttering Conference was organized in Cameroon in October 2005, whilst the second was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in October 2008. At the 10th International Stuttering Conference for People Who Stutter held in The Netherlands in June 2013, the ISA Board discussed with the Executive Director of SAN, Mr. Adeyemi Akintunde of the need to host the 3rd African Stuttering Conference.
It is against this background that SAN will be hosting the 3rd African Stuttering Congress in Nigeria, which will be held between 26th– 30th October 2014.
People who stutter (PWS) are found in the African society and other parts of Africa and the world as a whole. Often referred to as stammerers, they receive little or no attention to help them live with this condition. Rather, they are often exposed to ridicule and taunting remarks, which tend to increase their stuttering and emotional burden.
There is no known cause of stuttering, but research suggests it involves a combination of factors. Research has also established that more men than women stutter.
Eleven percent (11%) of children of pre-school age (between 2 and 5 years of age) stutter, which is nearly 6.5 million African children . About 20% or 1.3 million of these children are at the risk of developing chronic stuttering in adult life.
Approximately 1 million school age children and over 10 million adults stutter in Africa.
This population to some may seem negligible given the estimated 1.1 billion population of Africa, but translated in terms of the social and economic impact this population could have, it is quite significant. Consequently, SAN deems it fit to organize the 3rd African Stuttering Conference (ASC) in order to increase the awareness of people to issues on stuttering, facilitate access to speech language therapists/pathologists and provide an enabling environment for PWS (from Nigeria, other parts of Africa and developed nations), their families and teachers, so they can share and learn together.
Stutterers in Nigeria particular and Africa in general have been exposed to ridicule, neglect and discrimination, because of their stuttering. In addition, stuttering is surrounded with some myths and prejudices that need to be corrected, such that people’s negative attitude towards stutterers and stuttering will improve and stutterers will have a voice.
The 3rd African Stuttering Conference is therefore a platform aimed at raising public awareness and education on stuttering in Africa. In addition, PWS, their parents and teachers, will have the opportunity to meet and interact with international speech therapists and psychologists, who will administer speech therapist services to PWS.
The theme of the conference is ‘Living positively with stuttering – your role, my role’
The expected number of delegates from Nigeria, other African countries and the international keynote speakers and speech language pathologists is about 300.
The goal of the conference is to promote an enabling environment for PWS to develop positive self-esteem, to promote positive attitude towards people who stutter and enable them develop positive self-esteem.
The objectives of the conference are
- Inform and educate the public on stuttering
- Provide speech language therapy/counselling to delegates who stutter and their families, teachers, partners
- Inform and educate PWS on developing coping skill for their stuttering.
The conference will feature keynote speakers and speech therapists from across the world.
The methodology for conducting the conference will therefore include;
- Lectures – where keynote speakers will come from the USA, Netherlands, Germany and other developed nations will address vital issues on stuttering.
- Workshops – where researchers and speech language pathologists will educate and enlighten PWS and other stakeholders on stuttering and related issues
- Counselling/therapy support for PWS, family and/or teachers.
- Production and distribution of BCC material.
The hosting of the 3rd African Stuttering Conference in Nigeria will go a long way to meet the yearnings and aspirations of PWS to access the desired services and support that will enable them to manage or cope with their stuttering. In addition, it will create a greater awareness and understanding of PWS and stuttering. It is also hoped that this will serve as a wake-up call for the government and other stakeholders in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, to pay the required attention to stuttering and provide an enabling environment for PWS to develop their maximum potential.
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