This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Naman Anand. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Stammering 101: Let’s Talk!

Do you stammer? Do you know somebody who stammers? This article is for you if you do or if you just want to understand the how’s and why’s of it.

I have stammered for as long as I can remember. It has always been the elephant in the room in all my social interactions, since forever. According to statistics, 1% of all the people in the world stammer, more males than females for some reason (4:1 ratio). That translates to 1.3 crore people in India itself, and that’s a huge number!

I remember growing up amidst a lot of advice. Everyone whom I met usually had one solution for my stammer. From singing all the time to reading newspapers every morning in front of the mirror, to speaking very slowly, to eating honey or even having some medicines. While all the advice I got (and I am sure everyone who stammers gets them from people around them all the time), came from a good place, they came from people who understood stammering only through the stereotypes they had seen in Bollywood movies, where the person who stammers is usually the punchline of jokes.

Whatever people who stammer have to speak, is always considered irrelevant. Which means that every social interaction becomes increasingly stressful and has a very deep impact on life, mentally and emotionally. Add to that all the effects it has on the personal and professional lives of those who stammer.

What Causes Stammering

Some studies say that it comes from genes. Others believe it to be merely psychological. Whatever the origins may be, to understand why someone stammers, one must start by trying to understand the general mechanism of how stammering happens and finding out how we can control it.

To understand stammering, it’s important to understand how breathing works. We breathe because the diaphragm pulls and pushes the lungs. Now in stammering, what happens is that because of the fear of blocking on a sound or a word, the diaphragm freezes. When that happens, we are unable to pull/push the air into our lungs, and because of that, it blocks. The facial contortions that appear on the face are a byproduct of that, trying to speak without any air movement.

The blocks cause more fear, and it becomes a vicious cycle which only increases with age.

How To Interact With Someone Who Stammers

You may not stammer, but as there are so many people out there who do, I am sure you will run into them quite frequently. That’s why it is important to understand their mindset and educate yourself with facts related to it. Here are some basic questions that come to mind when talking to someone who stammers:

Question: Is it ok to complete the word or sentence if the other person is stuck?

Answer: No. Unless it is a very time-sensitive situation, you should never complete the person’s words or sentences. This actually reduces the other person’s confidence, sends their thoughts into a downward spiral and is harmful in the long-term.

Q: How can I help if the other person is stuck while speaking?

A: You can help by doing two main things. Do not look somewhere else while the person is speaking, maintain normal eye contact, and do not complete their sentences. That’s it. I know it can be difficult to do these, but that’s the best you can do 🙂

Q: Is stammering curable?

A: No, stammering is not a disease, and there is no “cure” for it. It can only be controlled with some breathing and speaking techniques. Ultimately it is all about confidence and breaking out of the cycle of fear and freezing. If one can build up that confidence, stammering can lead the way for eloquent speech.

Q: Is it situation dependent? Can it happen more in some situations?

A: Yes, it usually happens more in stressful situations. 

What To Do If You Stammer

If you stammer and are reading this, I am sure you must have gone for one or the other speech therapies at some point in your life. But they seldom help, mostly because the people giving the therapies themselves do not understand stammering fully. It’s not just a physical thing. Unless the psychological aspect of stammering is dealt with, the fear will not decrease, and therein lies the key.

You should definitely check out TISA (The Indian Stammering Association), as well as speech programs by people who stammer, like the McGuire Programme. TISA is more of a self-help group, whereas the McGuire Programme is more professional in its approach and has a huge worldwide support network. But both are by people who stammer and give a sense of community as well as tools and techniques to overcome stammering.

(Full disclosure, I have been a member of TISA in the past, and I am in the McGuire Programme)

The key is to get help, understand stammering and what lies at its core and work on those things. With hard work, it can be overcome.

In Conclusion

This is just a step to break that wheel and spread awareness about stammering and empowering people who stammer to reach out. Reach out and get a better understanding of stammering. So that they can get the tools and techniques to work on it and not let their speech become an impediment in life, ever again.

Feel free to get in touch with me over email at for any queries about stammering or speech in general.

Created by Naman Anand

Do you stammer or know someone who stammers?
You must be to comment.

More from Naman Anand

Similar Posts

By shweta srivastava

By Kalpana Shah

By Meharmeet Kaur Thandi

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below