Friends : Opportunities Galore..!

The legend goes that a mother wanted to help her child who
stutters. In her quest, she reached out to many more children who stammer,
their parents and also SLPs. And thus, the idea of FRIENDS convention was born.

In 2015, a young man dreamt of replicating the idea of “Friends”
in India. The Mumbai self-help group coordinator Dhruv Gupta, who was the one
to dare to dream this, also dared to materialize it. And thus, the first
Friends convention was held in Mumbai, on 23-24 May in the beautiful campus of
Somaiya College.

The event was co-organized and supported by TISA. Among the co-facilitators
were two speech therapists from USA (Dr. Joe Klein PHD CCC-SLP is a person who stutters and an assistant professor in Appalachian State University’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Noura Embabi is a CCC-SLP from the Center for Speech and Language Pathology in Conneticut.), and facilitators from TISA- Vishal Gupta from Delhi, the enthusiastic Mumbai SHG group with Dhruv overseeing the entire thing… And yes, I was one of the facilitators in the TISA facilitator’s team.

Overall fifty participants included children who stutter,
their parents, adults who stammer and the speech language pathologists from
Nair Hospital.
The convention was aptly organized to introduce the
self-help approach to stammering to the children and off course, more
importantly their parents. It was very encouraging to see an overwhelming response
and participation from the SLPs. There were parallel events held for children,
adults and parents. Parents were educated on stammering and some dos and don’ts
to help the child who stammers. Interactive sessions, games, skits… in all a
fun-filled event.
Personally for me, interacting with the parents and the SLPs
and their radical change of view as we reached the end of day two was the
BIGGEST take-away of this event. The parents were pained to see their child
stutter and put on best efforts to “change” their speech. But it was heartening
to hear this coming from one parent on day two- “All this while it was we who
wanted to change our children, but now we realize that it’s we who have to
change”. This shift in the thought process I believe is one of the most
fulfilling achievements of the event.
What was also encouraging was the eagerness and openness of
the SLPs to the self-help approach. On interaction with a few SLPs, their
keenness to work with self-help and belief that “therapy + Self help” will help
the child who stutters a long way and their willingness to work with us opens a
HUGE prospect in store for the near future.
Dhruv dreamt of reaching at least one child, and let him
know that he is not alone. When Sachit (a 8-10 year old participant) said on
the microphone that, “…before coming here, I thought I was alone, and now I saw
many BIG people stammering and
successful in life”, this must have been the best feeling of contentment and
achievement for him. Sachin along with other kids, won the hearts of many present in at the event.
With this, we have opened the door and beyond the door lie
opportunities galore. It’s now upto us (TISA as an association) to go ahead and
explore. Yes there is hope… if we talk and reach out, world will change. 
Kudos to Dhruv, Mumbai SHG and everyone involved in organizing the event. 
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Post Author: Harish Usgaonker

5 thoughts on “Friends : Opportunities Galore..!


    (June 11, 2015 - 7:56 am)

    Thanks Harish!
    i couldn't agree more…
    I was hoping for some videos and pictures too…
    As long as we learn, we remain relevant…
    We must take up the cause of cws. We have been there once – not too long ago…

    Dhruv Gupta

    (June 11, 2015 - 11:38 am)

    Thank you for this wonderful write up Harish! You summed up everything so well…wow :). Yes, let's replicate this! It can and must be done again and again..each time in it's own unique, beautiful way 🙂


    (June 11, 2015 - 3:55 pm)

    Thanks Dr. Sachin and Dhruv! Yes, I'm sure there will be many "Friends" to follow 🙂

    @Dr. Sachin: Photo added 🙂


    (June 12, 2015 - 4:09 am)

    Yes, we all need FRIENDS, who can see BEYOND our stammering and other "surface attributes". Especially true when we are children. Unfortunately, everyone at that period wants to keep quiet and hence a cws retreats in an inner world.. Let us change all that..
    To paraphrase an old time worthy: If not now, when? If not we, who else?
    Thanks Harish for your active participation and documentation..

    Vishal Gupta

    (June 12, 2015 - 8:12 am)

    wow Harish looking faboulous with Child and thanks for sharing awesome article and your experience

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