Self-help group for speech problem

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By RITH BASU
  • Published 19.04.10
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Nilukshi Cooray, a 21-year-old Sri Lankan student, would hesitate to open her mouth lest she get stuck mid-sentence. Till she figured out that staying calm helped her overcome stammering.

Nilukshi was one of the seven young professionals with speech impairment who traded tips at a six-day workshop on stammering, recently concluded at Medica Super-Speciality Hospital.

The workshop is the precursor to a self-help group where members would help each other reduce their speech impairment and associated problems.

Satyendra Srivastav, the co-ordinator of The Indian Stammering Association, conducted the workshop. He is credited with setting up such self-help groups in several Indian cities, including Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore.

“I didn’t come with great expectations so that I am not disappointed. But the techniques that I learnt are very helpful. I have to keep practising them,” said Nilukshi, a student of arts at the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh.

The techniques included prolongation (prolonging the first syllable), bouncing (repeating the syllable) and cancellation (taking a deep breath and starting afresh when stuck).

Vivek Singh, a 20-year-old student from Salt Lake, said: “The workshop changed the way I look at stammering. Interacting with others who have my problem, I have realised that I am not alone.”

The trainer himself is an inspiration for the participants. Srivastav overcame the problem despite suffering from it from childhood.

“Dr Srivastav had conducted a workshop in Pune about a year ago, after which we started a self-help group there, which now has 18 members. But I am attending his classes here again because there is so much to learn from him,” said Sanjit Kanuja, 32, a manager in a Pune firm.

Speech language therapist Durba Chattopadhyay and Sweta Chatterjee, the administrator of the host hospital also attended the workshop. They would be co-ordinators of the self-help group.