Sweta Uttakalika Sah is a Speech Therapist. She educates people on the importance of speech therapy through social media. She pursued a bachelor’s degree in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (BASLP) from AYJNIHH (now called AYJNISHD – Divyangjan) Delhi and a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology (MSLP) from All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH), Mysore.
Through her work, Sweta Uttakalika wanted to help parents and throw some light on an overlooked or underrated topic like Speech Therapy. Sweta has conducted many parents training programs to raise awareness about healthy parenting techniques. She has worked with many inclusive schools and clinics to change society for children with special needs.
In her conversation with Icy Tales, Sweta Uttakalika tells about her journey in choosing speech therapy, the importance of speech therapy, and her experience.
Q) Tell us about your Speech Therapy journey and what challenges you faced at the beginning of your career?
Sweta Uttakalika: My journey started when I was admitted for my Graduation to AYJNIHH (now AYJNISHD-Divyangjan), Delhi, and postgraduation in All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysore, which I completed in 2012. Since then, I have worked in sectors like hospitals and inclusive schools.
I opened my clinic in Delhi NCR and worked there until I married. Now I am working in Bangalore as a consultant speech pathologist.
The biggest challenge for any profession is awareness, an ongoing challenge we face today. The same problems are faced by me too, either because of a lack of awareness among parents or because they would have been advised to wait and see, and one day the child might speak, which isn’t true in all cases.
Q) Tell us about the phase in your life which was a turning point and what kind of lessons you learned from that?
Sweta Uttakalika: I have worked in different sectors, such as hospitals and special schools. Meeting people from different professionals helped me greatly, professionally and personally.
The turning point of my professional journey was working with professionals from different fields because I learned a lot from them. There wasn’t much exposure to associated fields in college. So, as I worked with them and learned, it did help me to guide parents in a better way.
Q) You are a mother that works; how do you manage your personal and professional life, and which things keep you motivated to work?
Sweta Uttakalika: As I was about to deliver my elder daughter, the pandemic hit, and I had to stop working. I spent my whole day with her doing some reading and activities, and it was then I thought to share my journey on Instagram. And that is how I started to vlog. Spending time with my elder daughter makes me happy and occupied, and I can say that is the key that keeps me motivated and happy. Managing becomes easy when we do things we love; having a set routine and schedule for everything makes it smooth.
Q) You are a speech therapist, so can you tell us what it is? How does it work, and what are the benefits to the child?
Sweta Uttakalika: Speech therapists or speech-language pathologists are the ones who work with people having difficulty with talking, communicating, swallowing, feeding, reading, and writing. We see a wide range of patients, from infants to older adults.
We do assessments and make a diagnosis related to communication. Depending on it, we make short- and long-term goals to work upon. Speech therapy is not one day, two days or one-week thing, it takes months to progress, and it is possible with the help of parents. as early as we diagnose a child with communication impairment and start therapy if needed, faster is the improvement
Q) According to you, what kind of care should a baby need after its birth for the overall growth of the baby?
Sweta Uttakalika: As we know, the first three years of a baby’s life are the most crucial year. The child’s brain develops faster. The overall development is happening that is social, emotional, language, motor, etc. As parents, we should spend uninterrupted quality time with our babies for the right growth. Also, we should be providing a stimulating environment to the child where he can learn different skills.
Q) According to you, what role should a father have while raising the baby?
Sweta Uttkalika: This is a very important thing to be considered. From the point of society, it is the mother who is responsible for the upbringing of the kid. It is not so. A mother is the child’s primary caregiver, like for breastfeeding. A father should be supportive and stand with the mother at all times.
My husband made my work easy; he cared for the baby when I worked. As a mother, I do more for children, but whenever he gets time, he is involved. Whenever there is a holiday, he makes sure that he has done all work that I do. Both parents have a role to play in this.
Q) People are unaware of speech therapy. How do you aim to educate people about speech therapy?
Sweta Uttakalika: Most people talk to a doctor who is in the medical field. I have worked with them, and they are the ones who help parents directly and who they should go and meet. Because of social media, speech therapy is coming into the context, which has helped greatly.
As a professional, connecting with my audience and parents has become very easy, and it seems more rewarding to make a difference. We reached out to the parents directly through the content of the child’s development and one-to-one talk on Instagram wherever necessary. It was also through Facebook, YouTube, and many other platforms.
Sweta Uttakalika aims to create awareness of speech therapy among every parent in India and abroad. She has been changing people’s mindsets through many talks. Sweta Uttakalika believes in small steps to make big changes in life.