My Journey (Pallavi Kelkar)

About the Author: My name is Pallavi Kelkar and I’m from Pune, Maharashtra in India. After completing my Bachelor’s degree in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology, I went on to do a Master’s and then a PhD. I have completed my doctoral work in the area of fluency disorders and my thesis is currently under evaluation.

Because of my special interest in fluency disorders, I have conducted awareness programmes in the past, as well as started a self- help group for persons with stuttering. I have completed a basic and an advanced certificate course in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and have found principles of this therapy really useful for helping my patients cope with stuttering.

I have presented and published papers in fluency and other areas at national and international conferences and scientific journals.

I have recently developed a tool for evaluation of the impact of fluency disorders (stuttering and cluttering) based on the ICF. The tool measures impact from two perspectives- that of the person with stuttering and that of their significant others.

When we talk about “A world that understands stuttering”, we immediately make a mental division between “Persons with stuttering” and “The rest of the world”. I however, feel that if there is acceptance in the true sense of the term, this division should not exist. And this acceptance of stuttering being “nothing very different” needs to come from within persons with stuttering themselves.

This video that I have shared brings forth this “acceptance of themselves” by the person who stutters.

The second and very important group that makes up this “world that understands stuttering” is the population of speech therapists. Often we use an existent (albeit excellent) attitude assessment tool without giving a thought to how it might need modification based on the needs of the culture or current cohort of persons with stuttering. My study “An adapted Indian version of the SSRSS: A mixed methods study” attempts to involve clinicians in a focus group to discuss the SSRSS and the modifications it might need in the present day Indian scenario, thus encouraging them to understand and empathize better with persons with stuttering.

The following is a video of one of my patients. This 27 year old man talks about his journey with stuttering, and tries to put the complex speech problem in as simple words as possible. He had given permission to include the video in the conference.

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My Journey (Pallavi Kelkar) — 13 Comments

  1. Excellent article, Dr. Keller, and great video. I agree with what you wrote in your first paragraph that instead of an us-vs-them approach, awareness begins with us.

  2. I agree with your comment about how we don’t need to make a mental division between “Persons with stuttering” and “The rest of the world” as the division should not exist at all!
    Could you tell me a little more about the Rationale Emotive Behavior Therapy that you mentioned was useful to your patients who stutter?

    • Hi Megan
      Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy is based broadly on two principles:
      1. That it is not an activating event that affects our emotions. The activating event in fact sets off certain (often irrational) beliefs or thoughts, which then shape our emotions or feelings. E.g. It is not a crowd that makes me nervous. What actually happens is when I see the crowd (activating event), I “hope” that I don’t stutter, and that they don’t react negatively in case I do (thought/ belief) which makes me feel nervous (consequence) and probably worsens my stuttering.
      2. People and situations may not be nice and pleasant always. But I still have the power to stand them.
      REBT thus teaches PWS to face the harshest of situations and yet ensure that their reactions to those situations are under their own control.

  3. Hello,

    Thank you for your contributions to the online conference. I enjoyed reading and hearing from folks who stutter. Its important to “break down” into how PWS can change.


  4. I like how your patient explained how he accepted his stutter. He described that stuttering acceptance and management for him is 70% stress management and 30% strategies for stuttering. Is this something you teach in therapy? Do you think this ratio varies from patient to patient?

    • No, this ratio is purely what he decided as best for himself. I do not prescribe any “standard” ratio in therapy, but yes, I do say that therapy would be giving equal emphasis on speech techniques, relaxation exercises and attitude modification, since excluding any one of these would not lead to long term improvement in my opinion. Enabling the PWS to take control of their own thoughts and emotions also enables them to eventually become their own therapists, and generate confidence in them that they would be able to “handle” a difficult speaking situation even after therapy is discontinued.

  5. Hello,

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Currently, I am a graduate student at Idaho State University. This semester I am taking a fluency course, and also a course that addresses therapy and assessment in multicultural populations. It was very cool to see how these two courses overlap. It was interesting to learn about your research into modifications of the SSRSS to make an Indian version. I was wondering if you could share a couple different modifications that you have determined would be appropriate for this population.

    • Hi Megan,
      Sure. I mainly found both focus groups reaching a consensus over many items being obsolete or not applicable to the current cohort. E.g. Asking for stamps at a post office is not something adolescents or even adults in India would do often, or do at all!
      The second category of items were those that might not be easily understood by people in India, like “participating in a bull session”, an item which also got non responses from most of the participants from the quantitative leg of the study.
      The article is currently in review. Once it gets published I would be happy to share the paper with you.

  6. I enjoyed reading about your journey as a Speech Language Pathologist and your approach to the Indian version of the SSRSS. I agree that it is important for not only the therapists to accept stuttering, but the individuals with the fluency disorder themselves. In doing so, we wouldn’t be divided into two separate cultures. We could finally become “a world that understands stuttering”. Your clients contributions were helpful in understanding how people with a stutter might feel. I liked how he said 70% of his stuttering deals with his anxiety and how he overcomes his fears and 30% comes from the strategies and techniques he has learned in therapy to reduce his stuttering moments. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Hi Dr. Kelkar, I appreciate that your client has taken the courage and positive attitude in recording this video, which shares his experiences with stuttering. Not everyone will be comfortable doing so. The feedback from clients who have tried various techniques and approaches to deal with stuttering helps speech-language pathologists as well as others to understand what really helps them deal with it. But there can be individual variations as well from client to client regarding what can benefit them and not. I like how your client divided 70% as dealing with nervousness, anxiety and 30% as using the techniques to cope with his stuttering. I always feel that anxiety, stress, and fear cause someone to stutter, as I always tend to stutter in such situations. Keeping ourselves calm and positive can ease our speech in any disturbing situation. As he mentioned, self-acceptance of stuttering gives a positive attitude and takes away the fear of stuttering from someone who stutters.