The McGuire Programme : A Meticulous Method for Speech Repairment
Written by Nethmi Liyanapathi
Photos by Eranga Pilimatalawe
We at Chokolaate had the pleasure of sitting down with Kaushik Valluri, the regional director for “The McGuire Programme”. Kaushik had come down to Sri Lanka in order to act as a key speaker for the “Learn about Stammering and AGP” workshop (that was held on the 16th of June at OZO Colombo) and was more than delighted to answer a few of our burning questions! Here’s his take on the case of stammering, and it’s new-found solution - The McGuire Programme.
How did you first get started with the McGuire program?
“For over 19 years of my life, I had a speech impairment. Stuttering was a big problem for me as it affected my social life, as well as my corporate one. After stumbling through various job interviews and opportunities that seemed to be so far out of reach (due to my impairment) I attended various programs and therapy, in hopes of overcoming this massive hurdle. That’s when I was referred to The McGuire Programme - and ever since enrolling in 2008, I’ve never looked back!”
How long did it take for you to overcome your challenges?
“After the first few days, I was able to better control my breathing and in turn my speech. However, that’s when the real journey began! Even now, everyday I wake up in the morning, and spend close to half an hour of my day to practice my breathing, and my exercises. It’s a lifestyle - consistency is key!”
How is the programme structured ?
“It starts as a 4 days course where the program teaches you how to establish total voluntary control over your speaking, and in turn stammering. It focuses on a number of important aspects that when understood, helps you better control your speech and vocal skills.”
What aspects does it focus on ?
“The programme is set in a way so as to focus on two main aspects; the physical and psychological. The physical aspect revolves around the process of costal breathing - a breathing exercise that uses movements of the ribs to drive both the inhalation and exhalation of your breath. This control of breathing is what then lets you have total control over your speech. The psychological aspect is related to the negative triggers and patterns that we tend to foster in our minds. Think of an iceberg - people only see the tip of it, but there’s a whole larger segment beneath the surface that’s almost always forgotten! In a similar way, people seem to forget that the psychological aspects play a much larger role in overcoming a speech impairment, when compared to the physical. This “Assertive Self Acceptance” is what The McGuire Programme recognises to be of vital importance, and addresses with an all-too-well-knit strategy!”
What does this programme wish to accomplish ?
“I chased fluency for the longest time, but The McGuire Programme made me realise that fluency should never be the end goal. What this programme strives to accomplish is “Articulate Eloquence”- being able to say what you want to say,when you want to say it!.The speakers are taught to express themselves readily, clearly and effectively, so as to be able to better their pronunciation as well as their vocabulary.”
How does the programme cater to those who speak in different languages?
“Although our programme is mainly conducted in English, the technique is the same for any language. Therefore, if you are able to master it in one language, you can use it when speaking another. We also conduct the course in German, Dutch, Arabic, Spanish, Swedish, and Norwegian - so there’s quite a lot to choose from!”
Do you think there is enough awareness into the case of speech impairment?
“There is quite a large amount of stigma surrounding the case of speech impairments such as stammering, and we at McGuire try our best to spread awareness with regard to the real nature of these issues. However, I do believe that in most south asian cultures in particular, there is a large sector of individuals who are unaware of the causes and solutions behind speech impairment.”
How do you propose to increase awareness with regards to this issue ?
“Educators have quite a large role to play when it comes to helping understand this issue to its core. It’s important to target the educational sector, and start by conducting seminars and workshops at institutions such as schools and universities. Predominantly in western countries, “Stammering Awareness Drives” are being conducted frequently - and this is exactly what we at McGuire ourselves tend to look into. These drives help educate the general public on the real reasons behind this issue, and understand that it should not be stigmatized - but identified, and addressed rather meticulously.”
Any advice to others who may experience similar issues ?
“You should not let the fear of what people think about you hold you back from what you are supposed to be doing. A speech impairment should not be a reason for you to give up on your dreams. Strive to overcome whatever holds you back - and one day you’re sure to thank yourself!”
Kaushik really shows us that with hard work and consistency - anything is possible. And just like how The McGuire Programme resulted in his incredible transition from stutterer to public speaker, his story proves that with the right guidance and care, we too can transition to a far better version of ourselves than we could ever imagine!