Sea Change (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. This acceptance of stuttering being “nothing very different” needs to come from within persons with stuttering themselves. This audio clip 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.

This is an audio clip of a woman with stuttering (identity not revealed), one of my early patients. She talks about how she found a sea change within herself as a person as she learned to cope with her stuttering.

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Sea Change (Pallavi Kelkar) — 14 Comments

  1. Dr. Kelkar, I wholeheartedly agree with what you are saying. After listening to the recording of your patient in which she talked about finally not blaming herself for the stammering and trying so hard to impress other people, it made me think that perhaps before that she had been trying to connect that mental division you were talking about: “persons with stuttering” and “The rest of the world”. She must have felt like she had to belong to the latter of the groups or at least try to bring people over from that group into hers. However, it sounds like in the end, she was able to realize that there were not these concrete groups so fixed like she had been lead to believe, and that she could live in one world with many different kinds of people. What a triumph. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into her journey.

  2. Hello Dr. Kelkar,

    I was interested in what rational-emotive therapy was, so I have done a little reading of published literature on this. It has been around for a long time and I appreciate its focus of positive self-thinking and self-resolution of negative thoughts and behaviors. Your client identified the positives such as how she can sing without stammering and focused on these things. This therapy helped her accept that she stammered without attributing it to other issues or worrying about what others think about the stammering event which is so good to hear. Can you please tell what sea change refers to?
    Thank you for all you do and for sharing with us in this event.

    • Sea change refers to her realization that she need not speak to impress anyone, or be a part of any “group” (the mental division we make between typical speakers and persons with stuttering that I refer to in my Introduction)- that speech was nothing more than a medium for expressing her thoughts, and sharing her ideas, and she needs to give it only that much importance in her mind. It also refers to how her journey through therapy not only helped her deal with her stuttering but also changed her as a person, someone who was happier, confident, and feeling more in control of her own life.

      • Thank you for the explanation and your contribution to this seminar. I appreciated your article. To life-long learning!


  3. Dr. Kelkar,
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I am currently a graduate SLP student and we have been learning how important it is to realize that standardized tests can be culturally biased. It is critical for patients to be tested with materials that will give us a true representation of their strengths and weaknesses. I am so glad you are contributing to this need for more diversity in assessment procedures.

    • Thanks. It has really been a pleasure participating in this conference. So much learning and sharing happening cross culturally! Certainly an enriching experience!

  4. Dr. Kelkar,
    I enjoy reading your article.Currently, I am a speech-language pathology student at University of Minnesota, Duluth in an Advanced Fluency Disorders class. I agree with that we should consider multicultural issues when we assess our clients. Thus, I have a question for you, please. Do you think that modifying assessment tool can lead to less reliability? Thanks

    • More than reliability, validity is something we must be careful about when we modify the tool. Is it still measuring what it is intending to measure? A researcher must take utmost care that while increasing the face validity of a tool by making it more applicable to a cultural group, other robust forms of validity like content and construct validity do not suffer.
      Hope that answers your question!

  5. I am so happy to listen to your patient and hear how this type of thinking has changed her outlook on her stutter. I particularly liked when she said that there were moments that no one could take away from her. We are blessed that she was kind enough and brave enough to share her story with us. Thank you both!

  6. Hi Dr. Kelkar,

    I enjoyed reading your article and hearing about your accomplishments. I am a second year graduate student and the University of Minnesota, Duluth and I am currently in an advanced fluency course. I found it especially interesting that you have started your own awareness programs as well as a self-help group. I am thinking of practicing in my hometown when I graduate, and I am not aware of any self help groups, but I know that there are many PWS around my area. What would be one tip you would have for starting my own self-help program?

    Thank you,

    • What I had done is started out with an awareness program that was open to anyone who wanted to know more about stuttering. That automatically brought many PWS together. It was there that I put out the idea of a self help group and invited whoever was interested to give their names. That’s how we kick started a self help group. Many of them also came in for individual therapy sessions following the program.

  7. Hi Dr. Kelkar,

    Thanks so much to you and your client for sharing this story! I really enjoyed hearing about her journey and how her perceptions of her stuttering changed along the way. I was also interested to hear how much benefit the client got from Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. This was not a therapy that I was familiar with, and this piece got me curious to learn more about it for the future. I am a current graduate student in a speech language pathology program, and this was a good reminder of how important it is to devote time to the social-emotional aspects of stuttering when working with people who stutter.