Illustration by Jasmine C. SantosONE DAY in English class, Cheska*, a Physical Therapy junior, was summoned in front in what would turn out to be a harrowing experience of sorts. Never the type to speak in public, she was asked by her professor to deliver an extemporaneous speech.

“We were given this topic and my mind just went blank,” she recalled.

She felt the words at the tip of her tongue, but just could not utter them. It didn’t help that all eyes were on her, especially the scrutinizing pair of her professor’s. She was frozen.

“I knew she [the professor] would knit pick every phrase I could have uttered,” she said.

A classroom scene such as this is no ordinary thing, particularly to those who are not used to getting the attention of the whole class. Many fill the gaps in their sentences with “Uhm,” or by repeatedly saying the words until they could proceed.

“Stuttering is a student’s usual reaction when faced with recitation, reporting, or stage performances,” said Carmen Quesada-Sunico, guidance counselor of the College of Science.

Stuttering has emotional efforts on a person, she said.

“Technically, its emotional aspect is triggered because it embraces both the cognitive and motor skills,” she explained. “It usually occurs when students feel nervous and are asked to recite in class or during classroom reporting activities.”

Word cuts

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, stuttering is a speech disorders in which sounds, syllables, or words are repeated or prolonged, disrupting the normal flow of speech. This may be accompanied by struggling behaviors such as rapid eye blinks or tremor of the lips.

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While stuttering is an actual medical condition, many individuals who may not have contracted the disorder also find themselves repeating their words when faced with awkward or nerve-racking situations.

“The causes of stuttering may vary from a physiological cause or generally by an unexplained origin of extreme tension or anxiety,” Sunico said.

Little solutions

While stuttering could become quite a habit for many, Sunico pointed out that there were ways to avoid being completely embarrassed when talking in front of the class.

She said that some stutterers would resort to word substitution—replacing a word they’re stuttering in with another word having a similar meaning. They may also use expressions such as “you know” and “let’s see.”

But the guidance counselor noted that the most effective way to avoid stuttering in class was to study and come prepared.

“Be like a boy scout—laging handa—so you won’t be surprised with recitations,” she said. Margaret Rose B. Maranan

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