Iceberg of Stuttering

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Re: Your personal experience...

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/17/03
Time: 3:34:17 PM
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Hello Elizabeth,

Thank you for your kind words. I enjoyed writing this paper - as you can probably tell.

Actually I have NOT experienced many different therapies. The only formal speech therapy I ever received was in the 1950's and it was purely a primitive form of fluency shaping. CONTROL your stuttering. Slow speech. Relax. Light contact. Continuous phonation. If you can CONTROL your stuttering long enough (so the theory went), then sooner or later you will develop the "habit" of speaking fluently. And certainly it worked - in the short term. The problem was in the long term. Then it failed miserably. I got so discouraged with speech therapy that when I was about 20 I withdrew from speech therapy altogether and decided that nothing was going to work. To hell with all this stuff. This went on for over 20 years.

Then one day a fellow physically dragged me to my first meeting of the National Stuttering Association. And I hated it! (And this is a whole 'nuther story!) But slowly over the course of maybe two years, I began to see stuttering from an entirely new angle and got involved with stuttering support groups. We shared our lives and our experiences. Our sorrows, disappointments, our frustrations - and our successes and our FUN! This was my first experience with the bottom of the iceberg - though I didn't even realize it at the time.

Finally things began to make sense. My old fluency shaping "speech controls" came back to me but now I was able to put them in perspective. I was able to use them to help me COMMUNICATE, not just be fluent. Huge difference! At the urging (at gunpoint...!) of the NSA, I joined Toastmasters and begin to learn how to effectively communicate. The world began to open up to me. It was truly a rebirth. I was having FUN talking! And stuttering! No one was more amazed at this than I was!

If I am an expert at anything, it's because I've made more mistakes than anyone else has. I KNOW where the potholes in the road are. So I do a lot of work leaving warning signs in front of all the potholes I've fallen into. Don't make the same mistakes I did! There's no reason for it to have taken over 40 years for me to have learned the lessons I finally did. That's why I spend as much time as I do helping educate student SLPs. YOU can help guide the way, not for me, but for my children and grandchildren who may happen to stutter. YOU are the future. And I love you for what you are doing!

Let me share a poem that has special meaning for me... I hope it has meaning for you too...


by Will Allen Dromgode, 1934

An old man, going a lone highway, Came at the evening, cold and gray, To a chasm, vast and deep and wide, Through which was a flowing sullen tide. The old man crossed in the twilight dim; But he turned when safe on the other side And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near, "You are wasting strength with building here. Your journey will end with the ending day: You never again must pass this way: You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide -- Why build you a bridge at eventide?"

The builder lifted his old grey head: "Good friend, in the path I have come," he said, "There followeth after me today A youth whose feet must pass this way. This chasm that has been naught to me To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be. He, too, must cross in the twilight dim; Good friend, I am building a bridge for him."


Help me build that bridge, Elizabeth. Together we can build a better world.


Last changed: September 12, 2005