How Bad Do You Stutter?

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Re: refreshing

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 17 Oct 2007
Time: 14:18:21 -0500
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Hi Karri, Thanks for your kind words about it not being bad if YOU don't think it's bad. I like that! .... I think you've hit on a very important concept here - how do you "teach" people anything? The conundrum is the dichotomy of the head and the heart as well as how they both respond to teaching and learning. Teaching is the easy part because fundamentally teaching is getting information into the head, the intellect. And you do that by reading books, studying statistics, looking at pictures and graphs, memorizing facts, etc. Basically that's what school is all about. (But you already know that don't you? Ha, ha, ha!) ..... But the really HARD part is learning. How do you reach the heart, the emotions, the fundamental belief systems that drive the very essence of a person's being? The heart (emotions and beliefs) respond to experiences and repetitions, over and over and over again. Amazingly enough they don't even have to make sense because the heart doesn't respond to logic and reason, only what "feels" good or bad. ..... The examples of this abound in life everywhere. The woman who continues to live in an abusive relationship when she knows - intellectually - that she should get out immediately. The alcoholic who continues to drink even when he fully understands that it will eventually ruin his life. The cigarette smoker, the drug addict, the schoolgirl who is hopelessly "in love" with the wrong guy, the extremely overweight man who orders one more Big Mac... Examples like this are endless. The heart battles with the head in almost everyone. Been there, done that! I understand this in spades! ...... In the case of a person who stutters you can explain to him very carefully in very persuasive ways that people really don't mind stuttering. His head may understand but his heart totally rebels at that thought. "You LIE! People HATE stuttering as much as I do! Stuttering is a curse!" But that's the heart speaking, not the head. In the iceberg analogy, that's the BOTTOM of the iceberg speaking, not the top. (see my 2003 ISAD paper called 'The Iceberg Analogy of Stuttering' at for more details on this.) ..... So you teach this by exposing your client to positive EXPERIENCES over and over and over and over. In MY case Toastmasters gave me those experiences. Absolutely when I started out I was scared out of my mind KNOWING that people would either laugh at me or hate me. My initial terror was almost overwhelming. My heart told me to run away from there as fast as I could! However my logical brain KNEW - intellectually - that I had no other reasonable choice but to face my worst fears straight on. Look the monster directly in his eyes - and teeth - and LAUGH! Lemme tell ya, that was a LOT easier said that done! ..... I had a mentor who TAUGHT me - intellectually - that doing that was my only reasonable choice if I were to ever live a really good life. And that didn't take long at all. He was a VERY persuasive guy! (He was tragically killed in a car wreck only three days after I met him by the way. I was crushed...) But the seed that he had planted in my head wouldn't go away. It made so much sense. However it wasn't until two YEARS later that I finally joined Toastmasters, scared to death, but knowing that I had no other choice. My heart continued to rebel at even the thought of public speaking. But with the continual encouragement of my fellow Toastmasters, 99% of them normally fluent speakers, convinced me to stay and keep going. They gave me positive feedback week after week after week after week. It was a SLOW process! ..... But slowly, very, very slowly, my heart began to have doubts about my own belief system. Hmmm... could these guys be right? Naaah... but maybe... Gosh... I don't know... Could I be wrong about my own beliefs about myself? Hey, how could ** I ** be wrong? Heeeey!!! (Picture The Fonz here. <grin>) .... I remember like it was yesterday - it was eleven years ago - when I was standing up on the stage at a very important speech contest and was awarded FIRST PLACE in that contest! I was absolutely stunned. I had no idea that I was even in the ballpark with the amazing speakers I was up against! (I could really relate to Sally Field when she exclaimed, "You like me! You really REALLY like me!") And I distinctly remember my heart simply shrugging its shoulders and saying, "Okay, I give up. I was wrong. What can I say?" And all that time the crowd was going wild with applause and cheering - for ME, a person who stutters! ..... That was LEARNING, not teaching. And it was the result of having thousands of positive experiences over and over and over again. My head had KNOWN that for years, but it took what seemed to be an eternity before my heart finally gave up and believed it too. Now its part of my fundamental belief system. And my life has never been happier or more successful! ..... I know this has been a very long answer to your short question Karri, but you DID ask! <smile> Did this help? .... I wish you the very best in school and your journey through life. You're going to make a wonderful SLP one day, I know it! ..... Russ

Last changed: 10/22/07