We all stood in a circle and counted in this way. It was a fantastic ice-breaker activity to start the Communication Workshop in Pune. The goal of this exercise was to make everyone present – fully conscious in the present moment. We had lots of nervous laughter, silly smiles and got to fully engage with one another after just 5 minutes of walking in the room. (If you still haven’t figured out the pattern of this game, read down to the end of this post where it’s revealed.)
Our next activity, consisted of going around in the same circle and saying our name, like, “My name is Dhruv”. Dr. Sachin then asked us to vary it by:
– say the same sentence with a stammer
– with a high pitch stammer
– with an even higher pitch stammer (a stammer where your tone moves to a higher octave)
– the same sentence but do something different with your stammer, anything at all.
– another round of doing something different with your stammer again
– a round of easy stammering
– longest stammering competition (this one was fun!)
– easy stammering, smile and eye contact, just simple bouncing
– have fun, feel easier to stammer
The overall goal of the activity was to show us that stammering that there are many different ways of stammering, and help us realize that stammering is no big deal, just laugh about it!
We moved on to the official introduction of the workshop, conducted by Virendra Shirse (without who’s commitment the workshop would not have been possible – a big THANK YOU to him). All participants were asked to write:
3 expectations they have from the workshop. Anything at all. From I expect that I will be able to meet new people, to I expect to become fluent (careful with this expectation!)
3 questions they may have about stammering
Next up was an energizer – ‘Nani Pani’! We’ll have to post a video on this 🙂
We then did ‘Interviews’. We were left to walk around the room and meet a partner, and have quick conversations with them, until Dr. Sachin shouted ‘SWITCH’, after which we would find a new partner. This was an exercise to help us realize we do have great social skills, while improving those skills at the same time. We contemplated on the birthday/holiday party invitations we declined because we were worried about stammering. We are social people who are fun to talk too!
We then moved on to everyone’s favorite (just kidding) – Techniques. TISA philosophy is to take techniques from the public domain.
We need to demystify techniques. Techniques have just been created from the behavior of actual stammers – researchers/SLPS have watched stammers and created techniques from their observations of stammering. For example, Bouncing, is just how some stammers actually sound when they stammer. Although, it’s done in a more relaxed, controlled manner.
Stammering is something we do unconsciously. In other words, we are not fully present when we are stammering. We need to be conscious of stammering, and be fully present/aware while we are stammering.
We sometimes run and hide when we stammer like its a criminal offense. I can assure you there is no criminal law passed against stammering! 😀
Cancellation. Dr. Sachin asked us to think about when we go to the bathroom, we need to clean and flush right – this is like cancellation. Or when we bump into someone while walking, we say ‘Sorry” – this is like a cancellation.
Speak, stammer, repeat the word your stammered. Imagine if you’re driving a truck, and it slides, overturns and hits a forest tree. You’re still alive and conscious. What’s the first thing you would think of doing? Turn off the engine of course.
Same thing with your speech. When your speech engine gets stuck, what’s the first thing you should think of doing? Turn off the engine, wait for a moment, and turn it back on smoothly – a cancellation. Some may think of this as a ‘Post block correction’. This is an example of how we need to demystify techniques. Cancellation and Post block correction are both the same thing.
We need to bring our vocal mechanism under our control.
Imagine that you have a farm house in the country side. You leave the farm house to a caretaker to look after, and are gone for 10 years to the big city. During those 10 years, your caretaker begins to feel like the owner – just enjoys all day drinking and lounging around the house. After 10 years you return, and tell the caretaker to leave. Do you think the caretaker will leave easily? Definitely not, he will put up some resistance to preserve his way of life.
In the same way, we need to take back our vocal mechanism, our farm house in the country side.
We then worked on bouncing and prolongation on our name, and did one sentence with both of them.
Gentle onset. Think of it like when you first learned to drive a manual car. You must release the clutch slowly, or the car stops abruptly.
Our next exercise was to write down 4 words that were difficult and 2 topics that we knowledgable about.
We then discussed Pausing. We read about it in the self-help manual created by Dr. Sachin, Apna Haat Jagannath – http://stammer.in/publications/NewSHManual.pdf on Page 26. Dr. Sachin shared a story about when he lost his ATM card. He was panicked and, after finally reaching the card company on the phone, was speaking frantically/quickly. However, the person who from the card company spoke with a very calm, slow rate of speech. He forced Dr. Sachin to slow down his speech. This is the importance of pausing. We must never feel rushed. Take your time. Also, people have noted that they listen more carefully and respectfully to people who speak slower.
It was time for another energizer! We stood in a circle, partnered up and tried various ways of using our force against each other. For example, we made a fist with out left hand and then had to use our right hand to open the fist of the person next to us. We also did several activites, that looked like they should be taught in a Karate class. This was all part of reenergizing us and helping us reduce our fear of contact/people, feeling our own strength and understanding that using excessive force is usually not the solution to a problem.
Break time for Samosas, Vada Pav & Chai
We ended the day with some quiet self reflection. We turn our chairs towards the wall, and spent 10 minutes in silence with our thoughts. We reflected on the days activities and tried to maintain a calm, peaceful, balanced mind.
Answer from the start of the post. BUM Game described at the beginning: On every multiple of 4 say BUM, and for every 4, like 14, say ‘1 BUM’. And 41 will be “BUM 1”, 42 will be “BUM 2”, etc.
For Day 2, we upgraded our venue to BMC Software, with the gracious help of TISA member Manohar – a big THANK YOU goes out to him and his understanding HR team for allowing use of their state of the art conference facilities.
We started the day off with a recap. Participants were asked to share an ‘aha moment’, image, experience in their mind from the previous day. We had some great sharing and laughter.
Next we were asked to give a speech on 1 topic that we had written down the previous day. This was a challenge, as we had moved to a very corporate atmosphere and we felt the heightened ‘pressure’. Nevertheless, we all felt the fear and did it anyway.
A participant shared that he had just gotten engaged a few days back. It was an arranged marriage. He had felt that he must share that he is someone who stutters to ensure a trusting relationship forward. He took her aside and shared this fact, and to his surprise, she said don’t worry. He felt lighter that he had shared this fact with her. Dr. Sachin commented on this, saying that while we are sharing something about ourselves we must not expect the other to share something about themselves, this is essence of morality.
We did another energizer – ‘Ayi Bole’ or ‘Mother Says’. This is similar to Simon says, and tested our listening skills and presence in that moment.
We then discussed Block Correction techniques.
Post Block Correction – during a block, you stop (turn of the engine), take a deep breath and speak again using bouncing or prolongation.
In Block Correction – during a block, you move into using bouncing or prolongation.
Pre Block Correction – before you speak, you scan the sentence ahead for feared words, plan to use bouncing, prolongation or gentle onset on that word, and implement – speak as you planned.
We did several rounds of practice with post block correction and in block correction. Dr. Sachin’s advice was to focus first on mastering bouncing and prolongation, then move on to using Post Block Correction. You should practice post block for at least a few months, before moving on to In Block and then after a few months more move to Pre block.
You must be free to make mistakes.
We also discussed how this techniques will only work as long as you’re working to reduce your fear of speaking/people alongside it. This can only happen when you go out into the real world and speak to people, take up a new hobby, learn a new language, join martial arts, join Toastmasters, or anything else that takes initiative and forces you to challenge yourself.
For our next activity, we lived the phrase “feel the fear and do it anyway”. We headed to the train station in groups of 4. Once there, we split up into pairs and began to talk to strangers on the platform about TISA. We used voluntary stuttering methods, and faced our fear of talking to strangers. We then boarded the train and went through each bogey, shouting on the top of our lungs, “Hi! My name is …. and I’m a stammerer. I am doing this challenge to work on my speech. I am part of an organization called The Indian Stammering Association. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me or visit stammer.in!”
We got many inquisitive responses. I met a psychologist who was very interested. We passed her our contact details and she plans to come to the next Self Help Group in Pune. Many others wrote down the website, stammer.in, and said they have friends, family or colleagues who stammer. We left the station feeling…alive. Like nothing in the world could stop us – free of all fear and hesitation. Videos will be uploaded to YouTube soon.
From the train station, we drove down to Phoenix Mall, one of the biggest malls in Pune. Once there, we spilt up into pairs again and walked around the mall for one hour talking to strangers. We said something like this, “Excuse me, I’m from the Indian Stammering Association..as you can see I stammer. We’re just taking a simple survey poll – only one question. What do you think about stammering?” We got all kind of responses “It’s genetic”, “It’s because they are nervous”, “It just happens from birth”. We explained to them that stammering is part biological and part psychological. And this challenge that we are doing now is to help us reduce our fear of stammering by talking to people in public. We also explained to them about our SHG’s in every city and how they can visit the stammer.in website for contact details.
This exercise felt incredible – to talk to so many people, share our story with them, and spread awareness about stammering. We were conquering out fears and doing a great public service at the same time.
We ended the evening with a nice group dinner and some cold coffee. Another amazing day in Pune.
TISA is a public charitable trust, registered under Registration Act, 1908 in the Sub-registrar's office, Vikasnagar, Dehradun, Uttarakhand. Its registration number is 6055, dated 13th Nov. 2009.
Address: C/O Dr Satyendra Srivastava, 478/1, Eden Bagh, Hospital Road, Herbertpur, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248142
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