Stammering Workshop: Insights

The workshop (13-14 Sept 08) has left us with these insights, lessons and thoughts, derived through the two sub group activities, discussions, feedback and the Question answer sessions.

  1. PWS do not come forward for therapy, self help etc because of conservative negative social attitudes.
  2. Some young PWS worry about the possibility of their offspring inheriting this condition (stammering) and its consequences. (World will be different place in 20 years-if we act together today: This was our approach and response to such fears.)
  3. ‘Teachers’ appear to be the most ignorant segment of society when it comes to stammering. Few know how to respond appropriately when a child stammers.
  4. Girls who stammer suffer ‘double jeopardy’. First they are women in a patriarchal society. Second, they stammer. They eventually lapse in an impenetrable silence. Higher education and finding friends can be nearly impossible.
  5. Family support can make a lot of difference. But sometime, it is the father who is a covert stutterer, and therefore, very uncomfortable about any discussion on stammering. This makes recovery difficult for the child in the family.
  6. People who do not stammer, sometime (wrongly) attribute other failings to stammering. If a child steals money at home, parents might wonder if there is any connection. Similarly, some stammerers think that stammering makes one very intelligent, since Newton, Darwin and Churchill stammered! (we did not have time to talk about poor research methodology and law of probability !!.. but we tried to dispel such myths.)
  7. As the chief Guest, Mr M K Goel mentioned, the Government of India, does not officially recognize stammering as a disability. (He heads a national association of people with disability.) PWS themselves are divided on this. Some do not want that kind of ‘recognition’, since they think they can achieve whatever they want through hard work. But this does not solve the problem of many younger PWS who do not have necessary skills and resources to help themselves. And the society too fails to do that extra bit for such children. Our consensus was: let the government (strapped for resources as ever) not give any concession to PWS, but society and media should become more educated and responsive, as they are about other visible and fixed disabilities.

Six parents, a dozen adolescents, some children and couple of teachers participated in this two day workshop. Most had some connection with stammering. Two Canadian movies were screened, with Hindi commentary: ‘Speaking of Courage’ and ‘Unspeakable’. Participatory methods like Sub-group discussion, Q&A sessions, role plays (on teasing in schools) etc were used. Practical skills, like breath work, bouncing, prolongation, continuous phonation, Valsalva maneuver, Instant relaxation techniques etc were taught. Important role of Self help groups was discussed. The event was covered by Dainik Jagran, a Hindi daily.

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Post Author: Sachin