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From: David Steiner
Date: 05 Oct 2009
Time: 19:06:47 -0500
Remote Name: 126.96.36.199
Hey, Russ! I agree with every word in your article. I especially appreciate your point about denial. Denial is tempting, but ultimately destructive. I have heard covert stuttering defined as stuttering which is unrecognizable as stuttering. If that's the case, then I don't think that I've ever met a covert stutterer. I have met many who think they are covert, but that's because when we bring up our stuttering to our friends, we almost invariably get the old "I've never heard you stutter!" Even I get that, after a good two minute block. Here is where I think we must make a stand. You may not agree with me on this, but there is a line (maybe it's thin, maybe not) between empowering and enabling. I think we have, at times, crossed that line and helped some young stutterers in their attempt to fool the world into thinking that they are fluent speakers. In fact, they are only fooling themselves, but still, we have at times facilitated this problem. 80% of young people who stutter grow out of it but, as you point out, the longer one stutters, the less the chance that the young person's stutter will disappear. I fear that we, and I mean all of us, may have done a tragic disservice to some stutterers by facilitating their denial when, if we had only shined the light on their iceberg, the whole thing might have melted away as it does for that 80%. For some of them, it may now be too late. When I go to court or take a deposition, the first thing I do is tell everyone that I stutter severely. As you may know, Eric Holder, the new United States Attorney General, has called us a "nation of cowards" when it comes to racism. He has appointed a small committee to recommend ways to increase diversity in the Justice Department. I applied, saying that, so far as I know, I am the only stutterer in the Justice Department and we need more. I never thought that I would hear from them again but, well, the Assistant Attorney General put me on the committee. His assistant told me that they had at first thought the committee would only be about ethnicity but my application made then decide on a broader approach.