August 1, 2012

Which therapist?

This is just our opinion and not binding on anyone. This is based on our collective research and understanding of the issue.

1. If you decide to work with a therapist for your stammering, consider finding and working with a Speech therapist, also known as SLP (speech language pathologist) in a Government hospital OR in a Charitable institution - because their fee will be affordable in the long run. Ideally, we think, it should not be more than Rs 100- 150 per session (1-2 hours). They will also not insist that you pay the entire lump sum for twenty sessions in advance - just for example. Frankly ask all questions in the first meeting about how many sessions are being planned and what will be your role, what are the expected therapy outcomes etc. Doctors are supposed to follow established principles and procedures to their best capacity, offer honest facts and never give "guarantees" about outcomes in any medical condition. Giving "guarantees" are considered unethical. It certainly is misleading in the case of stammering.

2. Once you discuss these things, stick to the schedule, work hard and give your very best to the practice sessions. Dont expect over-night miracles. Appreciate small changes. Some pws have benefited by therapy in the government hospitals, in spite of "poor image" of government institutions in the public. Therapeutic relationship (trust and compliance) between you and your therapist can work miracles anywhere. Be ready for relapse. This is the nature of stammering. If it happens, dont panic: go back to your therapist, without feeling guilty about it.

3. If therapy has not worked for you, or if you are a self-motivated person, who likes getting her/his hands dirty - then, you MAY give a try to self-help. The benefits are:
  • It costs no money.
  • You get the credit for your hard work (not the "therapist").
  • You become your own therapist, so that if there is a relapse, you know what to do and how. If you are going on an all India tour on your bike, it makes sense to learn how to fix a puncture and change the spark plug. Learning self-therapy for stammering is like that. Self-reliance, which you develop in the process, helps you in the other fields of life as well. You develop a positive self-image and feel empowered- rather than a helpless victim of circumstances.
  • In the process of self-help, you help others, develop a network, a long term support system and many skills besides Communication like managerial, organizational, time management, counseling, networking skills etc.  
  • In the long run, you discover that stammering as a "positive" aspect of your life, has helped you to turn your life itself around. 
To start on self-therapy, read this self help manual (English Manual,  Hindi Manual)
Check for a nearby self help group in this city wise list and join it.
If you cant join a SHG in person, join online sessions (link) and participate in other TISA events in different parts of the country.

4. Finally, we believe that no pws should be forced, bullied or manipulated into therapy against her/ his wish and best interest.  We support your right if you dont wish to go for any therapy or any self-help at all and wish to accept your stammering as a diversity (link). We respect your human right to live with dignity and with stammering. Yes, our long term vision is to sensitize the world about much diversity among human beings, stammering being one such diversity. Because 99% of stammering behavior, as we know it, develops in childhood, as a learned reaction to a negative response from others who did not understand diversity better..

Here is another write up on therapy and related issues.  Happy Losers !!

5. For children who stammer: Parents may and should consult a SLP, who specializes in working with children. But they should know that it is they who need to change. As they would discover, the therapy mostly is given to parents (Indirect approach) because a child can not cooperate with therapy by and large, as in adults. And the fact is: Child is doing his/her best already. It is the parents, siblings, teachers, friends - who need to understand how they can reduce the burden on the child, which they unknowingly place on the child through their expectations: "He should not speak like that; she should slow down- s/he should become alright soon etc. etc."

We believe that even children will benefit through ACCEPTANCE (practiced by parents, siblings, teachers etc.) . Stammering children will benefit a lot by adults around them who are willing to accept the child with his differing abilities, her/ his diversity - instead of insisting that s/he use a technique to avoid stammering - and sacrifice all the joys of childhood for the sake of the conformity forced on them by adults.

In short, be it children or adult, TISA wants the world to change and be more accepting of them, giving them the freedom and space to work their own way through their issues - instead of forcing them into a medical model of disorder, therapy and cure. And as a part of that wise, caring world, we want pws too to accept themselves and interact with world from a position of a "giver" - instead of a "victim".

No comments: