The first Communication Workshop for people with stammering (PWS) by The Indian Stammering Association – TISA in Mangaluru was held on 16-18 June 2017.
The workshop was held in the Gandhiji Hall of CODP – Mangalore. PWS from Delhi, Pune, Coimbatore, Pondicherry, and Goa along with pws from Mangalore, participated in this three-day workshop. A total of 16 people were present along with three facilitators.
Dr Satyendra (sachin) Srivastava, from Dehra Dun, Mr Harish Usgaonkar (National Coordinator) from Goa, along with Mr Dhruv Gupta (TISA Workshop Coordinator) from Mumbai SHG, were the resource persons. Binu K.G. a PWS from Mangalore was the local Coordinator and organiser.
Two Speech Therapy faculty from Nitte University along with a counselor from Milagres College also participated in the workshop. Their participation brought in diversity to the interaction and helped in discussing the viewpoints of non-stammerers regarding many issues and techniques related to stammering. The participants were from different professions and included both senior citizens as well as school children.
The workshop commenced on 16th June, 2017 at 9:30 am at with a brief inaugural ceremony involving lighting of the lamp by the parents of children with stammering , together with the facilitators. The inaugural was followed by introductions performed innovatively using an ice breaker exercise. The ground rules of the workshop was put forth and a bird’s eye view of the workshop was presented. The activities and discussions in the morning sessions were largely based on voluntary stammering. The technique aimed at acceptance of speaking with stammering as the new normal and removing the stigma and fear associated with it. It is well known that negative emotions and thinking contributes much to stammering; when fear and shame is reduced, stammering also goes down. The thought process behind TISA’s self-help philosophy and the focus on techniques, viz: voluntary stammering, bouncing, prolongation, pausing and meditation etc. was presented and discussed.
Afternoon session began with an interview session where each participant interviewed a partner and vice versa, on their beliefs and views on stammering. Many participants were discussing stammering with a stranger for the first time in their life and found it very liberating. Thereafter, the participants visited a nearby mall and engaged in stranger-talk. The participants split themselves into smaller groups and engaged strangers on their beliefs on stammering. The process aimed at both participants practicing the techniques learnt, as well as, sensitizing the public about stammering and the problems associated with it. The stranger talk was followed by discussion and debriefing.
The second day began with practicing the techniques of bouncing, prolongation, and voluntary stammering. The session then moved on to sharing our worst experiences of stammering and understanding the associated feelings behind each such experience. The afternoon session involved mini presentations and Q&A sessions. Feedback on presentations and suggestions were provided. Afternoon session also involved a discussion on the role of a spouse/partner of a pws in handling stammering. Wife of a participant, who was a food scientist delivered a small talk on healthy food habits and food practices. The talk was analysed on an effective communication point of view. The participants then visited a nearby park and interacted with strangers on stammering. The activity was very much appreciated by the participants as well as the strangers who shared their frank views on stammering.
The third day began with video recording of everybody’s talk and analysis of the same. Everybody’s observation on the recording was presented and analysed. This exercise also helped the participant observe their secondary behaviors and the necessity of working on them. The session was then followed by role plays. The group split themselves into two teams and came up with two skits which involved the participation of all. The emphasis here was to rise above stammering and communicate in a fun and informal context – to become convinced that we can speak in front of strangers.
One of the teams presented a skit, the concept of which was provided by a young stammerer of 12 years. The skit dealt with a courtroom scene on an imaginary planet, where everybody stammered and fluency was considered abnormal. The case presented was of a fluent speaker who was not getting a job due to prevalent laws favoring stammering – the norm on this planet. The contradiction and irony of the concept dawned on the observers and all were very impressed. Disability is produced not by a missing limb or function – but by the limiting attitudes of the society.
Finally, road maps were set for each participant. Everybody provided feedback on each other’s plans and a committed action plan was developed.
Curtains were then brought down on the workshop with group photos and goodbyes. A group of pws, strangers to each other, met at an unknown place and ended up developing a strong friendship and left with good memories, equipped with techniques to face the world, once again with renewed energy and confidence. We hope that participants will either join or start a regular self help group, so that they can continue to practice these new skills and attitudes – and help each other in developing good communication skills.
The participants are grateful to facilitators, Dr Sachin, Harish and Dhruv for their wonderful work and efforts to help pws. TISA sincerely thanks Binu KG for organizing the event in the first place and also Mr Ivan Saldanha Shet, for participating and covering the event as a journalist.
This workshop has acted as a catalyst to the formation of Mangalore SHG.
Thank you for reading!
Editor: Some of the highlights of this workshop were: A father and daughter participated in this workshop. Organizers were worried that a 12 year old girl may require very different kind of activities in such a workshop; But thanks to all the adult participants, including her father, she had a very productive and fun time during the entire workshop. She played the role of a Human rights lawyer representing a fluent person who is unable to get a job on the Hakla Planet (just because he is fluent!). Another highlight was a senior journalist (a pws) who wanted to spend just an hour to cover the event. He felt so happy in the liberating atmosphere of the workshop that he stayed on for the entire day and became an avid participant and TISA fan.
News Coverage: Here are some links: