The Women Workshop, Delhi ‘Break your silence and find your voice’

“RECOVERY IS THE BRIDGE BETWEEN WHO YOU WERE AND WHO YOU COULD BECOME.”

 

The workshop was organized on 19th August at Awfis, Connaught Place. It was raining heavily that day. Though four members committed to arrive but only one turned up. This didn’t influence workshop planning. It took place from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm (yes, it was extended by an hour).

The workshop was attended by Ambika. She is a master’s student in her first year, pursuing computer applications, from Indraprastha University.

 

WELCOME SPEECH

The workshop started with a welcome speech. It was conveyed that the workshop will introduce her to a new mindset. Until now, we have been experimenting with a fixed mindset of dealing with stammering. The fixed mindset inculcates denial, fear, shame, anxiety, depression, guilt, embarrassment, disappointment, hopelessness and the like. Similar to growth in other spheres of life, growth in self-perception requires the cultivation of a new mindset. Hence, the goal of this workshop is to introduce – MINDSET OF RECOVERY. A mindset of recovery transits from acceptance, self-awareness to freedom. Here, acceptance is the first step and it opens gateway to utmost happiness along with peace (as a by-product in the process). In addition, it was conveyed that the workshop is free from all judgements, whatsoever.

 

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MEDITATION

For learning anything new, calm mind is a prerequisite. In this line, Aanapana meditation was conducted. Aanapana meditation is a part of vipassana meditation. A mini audio clip by S.N. Goenka was used to facilitate process of this meditation.

Feedback: I am feeling calmer than before. I am relieved of unnecessary thoughts. I am willing to learn a new mindset today.

Ambika shining with her newly found calmness!

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VIDEO SHOWCASE

The video introduced terms- speech therapy, fear, shame, acceptance, courage, TISA, bouncing as a technique for managing stammering, communication workshop etc. to form strong basis for rest of the day.

TISA Delhi Female Workshop

Feedback: The video is so relatable. I can relate to experiences of ordering food at subway. I can figure out what all things I am doing which are not helping me in any way e.g. fear of speaking some words, not expressing my concerns with clarity, feeling shameful for my stammering etc. The concept of acceptance is new to me.

 

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STUTTERING ICEBERG ANALOGY

The correct time to introduce this analogy in the workshop is when a woman is enthusiastic to learn about recovery. This session was undertaken with great care. Ambika was clarified about all the terms- denial, fear, shame, anxiety, isolation, guilt, hopelessness, acceptance, courage, pride, comfort, community, kindness as well as hope.

A stammer is shaped by life experiences, which are unique to the person; therefore a practitioner needs to be faced with the whole lives of people who stammer and their diverse backgrounds. Furthermore, stammering can only be understood if viewed within the whole social and political life context.

During this session, woman who stammer were promoted to understand their stammer holistically. The idea of acceptance was given greater importance in this analogy. Understanding is the first step to acceptance and only with acceptance can there be recovery. Recovery not just from stammering but from all the emotional blockages that are rooted deep within. A rigorous self-awareness is indispensable. The journey of self-introspection alters our self-perception. We start to develop a healthy self-concept. This brings in freedom from all the emotional blockages. Hence, the process of recovery starts with the right mindset and the right mindset starts with acceptance. Thereafter, fruits of this mindset are freedom from the emotions that cause blockage to happen (or the tip of the iceberg).

Feedback: This mindset is a great food for thought. The iceberg analogy was also good.

 

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TECHNIQUE PRACTICE

Undoubtedly, one needs to work on acceptance, courage, pride, comfort, community, kindness and hope to address 90% of stammering. Even the 10% of stammering can be managed by using really simple techniques.  Ambika was introduced to bouncing, prolongation, pausing and voluntary stammering.

Ambika used the techniques to say the words she finds difficult to speak otherwise. She went ahead and tried with hard words. Well done!

 

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SHARE YOUR TALK

A prepared speech on ‘A world that understands stuttering’ OR ‘A world that understands acceptance’ was given by each one of us.

Ambika delivered a great speech. She described briefly how she used to perceive her stammering and quickly transited to how her experiences changed when she started accepting it. She illustrated that acceptance of oneself is necessary condition for recovering from negative stammering experiences through her life instances. It was well articulated. Time was taken care of. She used pausing technique. The beginning of workshop had an older version of her and this session introduced to a ‘new’ Ambika. The way she found her way back during rough moments in speech by using bouncing as well as prolongation technique was impressive. Indeed, it was a positive learning experience for her.

Further, I delivered a speech on the same topic. I recorded it. Thereafter, I observed that I used pausing and bouncing techniques. Though I could use prolongation too, but I didn’t. I exhibited secondary symptoms such as facial contortion and tongue protrusion at few points. I was fast in the beginning and went slow when I realized that I have much time left wherein I stammered freely.

As a gift for wonderful speech, Ambika got Apna Haath Jagannath self-help manual copy.

 

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INITIATIVES OF TISA

Later, Mr. Shailendra Vinayak arrived.  Since Mr. Shailendra is an experienced and active member of TISA Delhi SHG, he shared his experiences of various interesting initiatives in TISA. The communication workshop and flash mob in Delhi metro attracted our attention. When people who stammer along with their friends from TISA, interact with people who do not stammer, then they practically see that nobody cares how we speak. When we have good content filled with broad perspectives, stammering is overlooked. Mr. Shailendra introduced us to acceptance in this way.

 

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ALIVE.ACTIVE.AWARE.ENTHUSIASTIC

The monotonous activities and arrival of a new participant, called for an ice breaker.

‘Alive, active, aware, enthusiastic’ was enjoyed by all three of us. We shared laughs and gained our lost enthusiasm back.

 

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READING PRACTICE

Later, Ambika and me read short excerpts from Apna Haath Jagannath. Mr. Vinayak provided feedback for our reading.

 

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PROMISE ACTIVITY

The concentric circle drawing summarized whole workshop for each participant. Below is a picture of Aashima’s promise activity.

 

This called for end of workshop! The whole experience was joyful and the most important thing is the hope shown by Ambika to work upon implementing the ‘Mindset of Recovery’. I cannot forget the glee in her eyes and her smile. I hope I am able to make a difference in the life of a woman who stammer.

 

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STRANGER TALK

After coming out of the venue, Ambika and me started moving towards metro station. We asked strangers for change of Rs.500 because she needed them to recharge her metro card and ‘ch’ is our favorite syllable. The strangers reacted with laughter, confusion and impatience. One of them observed us shooting the whole instance, he mistook us for some reality show host.

Unable to find change, we entered a restaurant. While placing order, I didn’t lose eye contact and smiled. The person taking my order reacted with integrity. Finally, we realized we had got more than our order!

 

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FEEDBACK

Ambika provided the following feedback:

‘Break your silence and find your voice’ was quintessential. The idea was great as all the women who are actually on the same page were on the same platform. On this platform, everyone gets to speak their heart out without any fear of being judged or something. It is important for women to come at female SHGs because everyone has voice but not everyone get equal chance to break their silence and raise their voice. My only expectation from this workshop was enough time for everyone. Undoubtedly, it did meet up to my expectations as there was enough time.

Though there were only Aashima and me still we learned a lot! Giving prepared speech felt great. I was confident to a great extent. Through this workshop, I found a new confidence in me. I started accepting my stammering which was not before. I used to feel ashamed of me because I stammer but now I am a PROUD stammerer, rather PROUD woman who stammer. Emotions of helplessness will get the best out of me now. Overall, it was more than just an amazing day. There was positivity all around. I really look forward to more meetings of these kind.

 

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REPERCUSSIONS OF WORKSHOP

The initiative was not limited to a three-hour workshop rather a four-week long project which I undertook. During this time, I had conversation with women who stammer across India. We joined hangouts calls and the time spent there was our last concern. Frequently, conversations which took place were one-to-one. I hardly knew that time that the process was initiating the following changes:

  • The percentage of women coming to Delhi SHGs have shoot up from 0 to 3. Since last year, Delhi self-help meetings saw negligible participation by women who stammer. So, this is a significant increase.

Group picture after the last Delhi SHG meeting

 

 

  • All three of them actively took part in group activities in Delhi SHG.

Ruchi and team posing for ‘selfie activity’ at SHG 😀

 

Ambika and team posing for ‘selfie activity’ in Delhi SHG!

  • Ruchi has been recently awarded as ‘Star of the week’ in Delhi SHG.

The “star of week”, Ruchi Verma , spreading smiles!

 

  • Garima and Ambika are hosting next self-help meeting. Moreover, both are keen for an outdoor female self-help meeting. This is going to take place soon.

 

  • The women are becoming active over group and initiate fruitful discussions. They do not bother themselves about judgements. Recently, Devapreeta asked regarding ideas for handling her PhD interview and was encouraged by the responses.

 

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VOTE OF THANKS

The initiative was a teamwork. I am indebted to TISA Delhi co-ordinators- Vikas Ranga, Vishal Gupta and Dixit Arora. Mr. Vikas channeled self-help manuals timely. Vishal took care of the online promotion. Dixit assisted in the process of knowing TISA better. The presence of Mr. Shailendra Vinayak added value to workshop. He addressed TISA and we got responses for our queries pertaining to same from him. The workshop gave me amazing friends- Shilpa Sagwal, Soumya, Prachi Dubey, Bhavana Patil and Mansi whose lovely support and constant feedback augumented the process. The technical support is indebted to Luvmeet. I am grateful to Jagriti for her company during site visit. Lastly, I had my best time with Ambika. It’s great to see that she participated in the workshop with full enthusiasm.

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RESOURCE SHEET

 

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A WORD TO SPREAD

I am interested in discovering the meaning women gave to their stammering experiences. I hoped to discover this personal meaning by asking each woman who stutter to tell stories about their lives. This approach was based on the idea that “suffering is produced, and alleviated, primarily by the meaning that one attaches to one’s experience”.

Although there is no research that looks at the appropriateness of Speech language therapy (i.e. SLT) for women I would argue that traditional therapy, which is based on behavioral principles of speech modification, is more applicable to men for the reasons below. Not only is the therapy based on research that has been conducted mostly with men, it is also symptom-based and overlooks the emotional aspect of stammering. In light of the prevailing view in psychology that men cope with stress by taking a problem-solving approach whereas women take an emotion-focused approach, traditional speech therapy is arguably more suited for men. However, a lack of emotional expression among males may be influenced by gender norms, which deny men access to vocabularies of distress.

In a nutshell, “suffering” was the primary theme that emerged from the people’s core experiences of struggling to speak. This theme is mediated by the following factors: (a) helplessness, (b) shame, (c) fear; and, (d) avoidance. With regards to the finding that “suffering” is the primary theme, Speech language therapists should draw from this idea, “suffering is produced, and alleviated, primarily by the meaning that one attaches to one’s experience”, about how to treat suffering.

I assert that through the clinician learning, the personal meaning the person attributes to the experience they are, then able to alleviate the suffering attached to the experience. This is achieved by changing the meaning of the sufferer’s experience. One way to achieve this is by motivating them to adopt ‘Mindset of Recovery’. This concept is a result of my own research pertaining to women who stutter. In this way, by reducing suffering, the women’s overt stammering behaviours will also decrease.

 

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Prepared by:

Aashima Gogia

6 Comments
  1. Vikas Ranga 2 months ago

    Congrats, this is inspiration for all.

  2. Sachin 2 months ago

    Congrats, Ambika and Aashima!
    There is a Jewish proverb: Saving one life is like saving the whole humanity!
    TISA, rephrases it: Serving one stammerer selflessly is serving God, men, beast everything.
    Your documentation was very descriptive, comprehensive and full of insights. I am also impressed that you did not forget to share “financials”, which is so important for any collaborative effort.
    You are right that “Suffering” is a subjective phenomena. Now, when I do Voluntary stammering, I do not feel the strong emotions which I did years ago. I will say, suffering is a personal choice. We are free to chose the other path: Give up all self-pity, take charge and turn your pain into something beautiful and useful, something of universal value. This option is open to EACH one of us, as you two demonstrate.
    Regarding the social aspect of stammering (as opposed to technical/ medical), I will strongly recommend this website:
    http://didistutter.org/

    Check it out. It is a gold mine..
    Best wishes!

    • Aashima Gogia 1 month ago

      Thank you, so much Sir .

  3. Vishal Gupta 2 months ago

    Kudos to Aashima !!!

    I remember this line when my dad got this from one national magazine company “Start Small, Grow Big” so the same is for you. Keep it up.

    I am sure in next 5-6 months, Delhi SHG will be full of girls members and you can start WOMEN SHG as well.

  4. Harish Usgaonker 2 months ago

    Congrats Aashima! Lot of efforts have gone into this – good planning, well thought, participative and fun! Kudos to the team. Report was also in detail.. it was like attending the event virtually..

    Great idea to summarize in the end with ‘Promise activity’. Well done!

  5. Aashima Gogia 1 month ago

    Thank you Vikas, Vishal and Harish Sir.
    Indeed, happiness is contagious.

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