How Bad Do You Stutter?

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Re: Change in Focus

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 16 Oct 2007
Time: 15:55:38 -0500
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Hi Misty, Thanks for your kind words - and for your question. ..... You asked, "Is there anything you can share that particularly helped you in controlling your struggle?" Controlling a struggle is almost an oxymoron. The more I tried to CONTROL it, the worse it got. So after decades of futile struggling, I basically just gave up. The old saying "If you always do what you always did, you're always gonna get what you've always got" is absolutely true! Control and struggling never worked for me because we never understood the truth about the stuttering iceberg. (See my 2003 ISAD paper called 'The Iceberg Analogy of Stuttering' at for more details on this.) ..... The shift in my focus began when I joined the National Stuttering Association (the NSA) in 1984. We talked about emotions, feelings and attitudes, concepts that were totally foreign to me. We had NEVER talked about them in my "control-it-till-you-die" therapy days. (NO ONE knew about the iceberg in those days.) It was a VERY gradual process until one day I met a guy at an NSA conference who told us we HAD to face our fears head on every single day! Talk about a foreign concept! Maaan...! But facing my worst fear - public speaking - was what made me join Toastmasters and my life began to change. It was unbelievably scary at first, but it really didn't take long for me to realize that other people really don't care about FLUENCY. They care about COMMUNICATION which is a totally different concept than just fluency. ..... In Toastmasters I slowly learned to improve my COMMUNICATION skills which included lots of non-speaking activities like good eye contact, smiling facial expressions, firm handshakes, body language, presentation organization, stage presence, and things like that. And my struggles to be fluent no longer mattered! It was amazing! No, I didn't become fluent, but so what? My LIFE began to change for the better in all sorts of ways. Today I LOVE public speaking and do it all the time. Next to the NSA itself, I credit Toastmasters for changing my entire life. Read my 1999 ISAD paper called "Public Speaking for Stutterers" at for more details on this. ..... Does this answer your question, Misty? ..... I wish you the very best in school and in your journey through life. ..... Russ

Last changed: 10/22/07