Iceberg of Stuttering

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Re: Great analogy

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 10/22/03
Time: 11:58:35 AM
Remote Name:


Hello Jaclyn,

Excellent observation!

If a car mechanic thinks he's going to devote his career to changing spark plugs, he's got another guess a-comin'. This stuff ain't easy, but don't let it scare you. While you'll never be an expert at everything, you can still do enormous amounts of good. As long as you know where your limits are, and you know other people who can help you beyond your own limits, then you're in good shape.

Let me share with you the concept of "layers" of expertise. I spent most of my career working with people who needed computers to help them do their jobs. Looking UP, I could see several layers of people above me. And looking DOWN I could see many layers beneath me. Here's what a cross section of all those layers looked like...

The end customer who needed to use a cell phone.

The manufacturing people who made the cell phones.

The people who made the chips, the integrated circuits which drive all cell phones (I used to work at Texas Instruments who makes these magic chips!)

The people who scheduled and made the plans to manufacture the chips.

The people who knew how to design and implement manufacturing systems. <---- This was me.

The people who knew how to write high level programs - such as HTML and web designs.

The mid-level programmers who knew Cobol or C++ or Java.

The people who were the true "system programmers" at the operating system levels.

The super geeks!

The hardware people who built my computers.

The people who designed the computers.

The people who designed the components which went into the computers.

The solid state semiconductor physicists who understood materials at the sub-atomic level.

All those layers are required to get you a working cell phone! Amazing isn't it? If you can span three levels in your professional career, you're doing great! Each layer is dependent on the one directly beneath him. And he (or she!) supports the level directly above him or her. It's just the way the world works these days.

The medical profession works the same way. General practitioners depend on specialists. Surgeons, neurologists, internists, endocrinologists. Those specialists in turn depend on medical researchers, who depend on chemists and drug specialists. The layers just go down and down.

You get the point. Yes, you will depend on psychologists and psychiatrists and linguists and speech researchers and brain specialists, etc., when you need them. If you run across problems far outside your field of expertise, such as alcoholism, drug dependency, abuse, suicidal tendencies, etc., then yes, of course don't be afraid to call for help from the people "down" a layer or two. But they're not speech pathologists either. They don't have the understanding of stuttering that you will have.

Over the years, I could do some work up and down a couple of levels from me. I do some web design work now. I used to write in Cobol - decades ago. I am totally incompetent at C++ or Java, much less at the OS level or below. Gosh... I've darn near electrocuted myself inside a computer! Believe me, I know my limits!

The world in a very "layered" place to live, and NOBODY knows all the layers, not even Bill Gates! We all depend so much on each other. So pick a layer that interests you now, and as the years pass, sniff out the layers just above and beneath you. You'll find it exciting!

My father always complains that when he asks me what time it is, I tell him how to build a clock! I hope I haven't overwhelmed you with detail here. But you DID ask an excellent question that I hope I've helped you with. I apologize if I've told you how to build a clock! <smile>

I wish you the best, Jaclyn! You'll make a wonderful SLP! Thanks for stopping by and asking such a great question!

Good luck!


Last changed: September 12, 2005