Piano prodigy Shivank Menon brings together a host of B-town stars to destigmatize stuttering

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International Stuttering Awareness Day 2021: ‘People stutter only when they are nervous’, ‘people that stammer are just self-conscious and shy’. ‘Imitating a stutter causes a stutter’. These are probably some of the common myths you must have heard about stuttering, say Bollywood stars Sonakshi Sinha, Riteish Deshmukh, Huma Qureshi, Kunal Kapoor in a video aimed to break stigma associated with stammering. But they are hardly true. There is more to people who struggle with stuttering than their speech and there are ample success stories to prove that.

On International Stuttering Awareness Day, celebrated every year on October 22, Shivank Menon who’s also a piano prodigy has brought together a bevy of Bollywood stars to dispel myths around stammering with a video. Shivank Menon, 17, is known for his phenomenal piano playing abilities and is a student of Singapore International School.

The video explains how stigma around stuttering, a neurological condition that makes it physically hard to speak and creates great social pressure on the person inflicted by it, especially in India makes the problem tougher to tackle as it’s the unawareness that heightens the shame around it and reduces its social acceptance.

There are many famous people from novelist Lewis Carroll who wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, legendary actress Marilyn Monroe, to President of United States Joe Biden who struggled with stammering earlier in their life.

TISA (The Indian Stammering Association) is helping people who have this speech disorder by counselling them and encouraging them to focus on their potential and on life itself rather than speech alone.

Shivank Menon, the youngest ‘transfluencer’ in the team said he too had a brush with stammering in his young age, but overcame it. “I can now speak as effortlessely as I play the piano,” said Menon.

“I figured I would have to be as stubborn as my stammer if I had to get over it. Every time I was down and out, I remembered I had to go for it again. Connecting and growing with people with the same experiences and focussing on life itself rather than speech alone were some of the things that helped motivate me and persevere,” he said in the video.

The video is created with the intention of reaching out far and wide and letting people know that help is only a call away. Individuals with the condition are encouraged to reach out to The Indian Stammering Association, organization that helps people who stammer accept their condition and overcome the associated behaviour and mindset through a self-help movement.

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