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The Challenges Faced by Students with Speech Impediments

Essay by   •  June 21, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  9,525 Words (39 Pages)  •  1,161 Views

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CHAPTER ONE

1.0 General Introduction

1.1 Introduction

There is no doubt that speech is the most commonly used means of communication among human beings. When compared to other means of communication: gestures, manual signing, pictures, and written symbols, speech is the most complex and difficult of all. For normal speech to be made, there has to be a proper coordination of the nerves and muscles to enable proper breathing, production of sound by the larynx and vocal folds, and the formation of certain speech sounds by the tongue, lips, teeth, and mouth. (Heward, W., & Orlansky, M. 1998). There are seven speech problems: functional articulatory, stuttering, voice, cleft palate speech, cerebral palsy speech, retarded speech development, and impaired hearing with speech defect (The New Encyclopaedia Britannica).

According to Charles Van Riper, "speech is abnormal when it deviates so far from the speech of other people that it calls for attention to itself, interferes with communication, or causes the speaker or the listener to be distressed" (Riper V. and Emerick, L. p 34). A person with an abnormal speech is placed at an economic, learning, and social disadvantage (Emerick and Haynes, 1986). Economically, a person with an abnormal speech may find it difficult to be employed in jobs that require a lot of verbal communication; this puts the person at an economic disadvantage. A student in school may face many challenges like the inability to express himself/herself in class. The student may also be a target for bullying which may lead to a student isolating himself/herself from his/her fellow classmates. Sheehan, J. (2005) a stutterer and well-known researcher in the field of stuttering said, "Stuttering is like an iceberg. The part above the surface, what people see and hear, is really the smaller part. By far the larger part is the part underneath-the shame, the fear, the guilt, all those other feelings that come to us when we try to speak a simple sentence and can't" (Sheehan, J. 2005.P.31). All this shows the complexity of the problem that often drives people with abnormal speech to avoid social interaction.

In the proceeding chapters, the researcher will present the magnitude of the problem of speech disorders, what other people have written about the problem of speech disorders (stuttering): its causes, effects, challenges, and some therapeutic measures to control the disorder. He will also present findings and make an analysis of the research and give some recommendations.

1.2 Background of the study

The phenomenon of speech impediments is a worldwide problem. In America, there are about three million stutterers, that is, approximately one percent of the population stutters (Sheehan, J. 2004). Despite the large number of people with speech impediments, as can be drawn from the example of America, this issue has not been of great concern in most African countries. It's possible that many people with speech impediments in Africa live in fear and attempt to hide their speech impediment. Many people do not have correct information that can help people with speech impediments, and those who try to help often give misleading information that sometimes worsens the problem. This is because they are not well informed about the complexity of the disorder. There are many myths in Africa that explains the causes and treatment of stuttering. Some people believe that stuttering is a result of the failure to appease or to offer non-human sacrifices to the gods. So under this view, people try traditional methods like worshipping at the source of big rivers and burial sites among other rituals in order to cure the impediment (Nsubuga, J. 2006).

Some speech disorders can be corrected with the help of a speech pathologist, but these professionals are very rare in most African countries. An abundance of information that can help people with speech impediments, such as stuttering, is available on the Internet. However, the percentage of people with the ability to access it in most African countries, like Uganda, is very small. In most developed countries such as the USA, and the United Kingdom (UK), people with speech impediments are well catered for in terms of getting the correct information. Some organisations like the Stuttering Foundation of America, and the International Stuttering Association (ISA) have been of great help to people who stutter and in sensitizing the people about stuttering. The main objective of ISA is "To improve the conditions for children, adolescents and adults who stutter and parents of children who stutter in all countries, by:

 Sharing concepts and information about self-help and therapy methods.

 Outreach to make the movement bigger.

 Facilitating communication and cooperation.

 Educating the general public.

 Stimulating research.

 Being an advocate.

 Assisting in founding of international working groups.

 Initiating public relations projects".

(Krall, T. 2000).

ISA is currently spreading these self-help movements in many countries of Africa including Uganda.

In Uganda, people with speech impediments seem not to have received much help from the government and non-governmental organisations. In one of the daily newspapers of Uganda (The New Vision) dated 29 July 2008, an article was written stating that a course for language speech pathologists in Uganda was started in 1998 with an enrolment of only four students. Such an intake was very small considering the number of people with speech impediments in the country (even though there are no statistics that give the actual numbers). In Nigeria, the problem is no different from that of Uganda. According to Akintunde Adeyemi (2006), there are about 150,000 school age children and 600,000 adult Nigerians who stutter, and the government has not aided them. With such a background in mind, the researcher saw that it was necessary to address the problem of speech impediments in Uganda.

1.3 Statement of the problem

People with speech impediments face many challenges. Due to the fact that these people cannot easily express themselves, they often suffer in silence. When compared to other people who are handicapped such as the blind, the deaf, and the mute, people with speech impediments are

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