The Stutterer's Experience

From: John Harrison
Date: 10/2/99
Time: 2:39:02 PM
Remote Name: 152.163.204.52

Comments

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Nicely said, Woody. If it's okay, I'd like to use this quote in an upcoming piece. 

For someone who never stuttered, you continue to amaze me with your perceptiveness and understanding with what goes
on under the surface. 

John H.

Re: The Stutterer's Experience

From: Woody
Date: 10/7/99
Time: 1:57:46 PM
Remote Name: 155.247.229.95

Comments

Thanks John. Coming from you that means a lot. 

Woody

Our experience of stuttering

From: Jonathan Bashor
Date: 10/4/99
Time: 3:18:58 PM
Remote Name: 207.174.156.63

Comments

I am still amazed at the disagreement among us stutterers about what stuttering is. Each interprets his experience in his
own way. My experience has always been, even from the beginning, that the real panic doesn't occur until I feel the
block. I may feel anxiety about certain words or situations, but until I feel a block, I don't feel the almost sickening panic.
So for me, what is generally referred to as stuttering, namely the secondaries, is our panic after the block. A great topic,
one which stutterers and SLPs will be discussing for a long time 

The fragmented self

From: Ed Feuer
Date: 10/7/99
Time: 1:34:36 AM
Remote Name: 216.81.20.33

Comments

One of the major difficulties in treating stuttering is the impermanent nature of the problem — the effects of which some
SLPs do not comprehend. People who stutter have a fragmented self. We don't stutter or stutter a lot less when there is
little or no communicative stress (Situation A). We stutter more when there is communicative stress (Situation B). We
want to view ourselves as A. But many significant people in our world know us as B. Many fluent speakers, too, talk
about a perception gap between how others see them and how they see themselves. For PWS, that gap is often far more
real. And it is an issue that likely has a lot to do with the resistance and sabotage of which SLPs complain. The challenge
is to heal the split, to reintegrate the self-concept as Van Riper put it. — Ed Feuer edfeuer@escape.ca

Re: The fragmented self

From: Woody Starkweather
Date: 10/17/99
Time: 10:43:38 AM
Remote Name: 155.247.229.33

Comments

I couldn't agree more Ed. It has always seemed to me that the great tragedy of stuttering is that it leads people away from
being who they really are. I guess that is the same thing that you are talking about. At our most recent Birch Tree
Foundation workshop, which was just yesterday, we had a fascinating discussion along these lines. Many talked about
the effects on them of the repeated experience of not having people take them seriously. I think this must be close to a
universal experience for stutterers, although different people react to it very differently, some withdraw, some get mad,
etc., but there is an important PSYCHOLOGY OF STUTTERING that has long been overlooked in the literature. Think
(if you are not a stutterer) of the impact it would have if, from a very young age, people didn't really listen to you fully. 

We have all heard people say, after NSA conventions, that stutterers seem to be such nice people (with a few notable
exceptions). This may be more than a side effect of post-convention euphoria. Perhaps the difficulty of not being listened
to fully, or not being taken seriously, plus a history of mockery, makes people tend to be more accommodating to others,
which makes them seem "nice," altough inside they may be resentful. 

There seems to be some research veins to mine here. 

Woody 

Early Experiences

From: Rebecca Hubbling
Date: 10/7/99
Time: 4:24:30 PM
Remote Name: 134.29.30.64

Comments

I am a student in the field of communication disorders currently providing stuttering therapy as part of a clinical
experience. One question came to mind when I was reading your article. Have you found any ways of discovering
(helping people who stutter remembering) "early experiences struggling and forcing thru words"?

Re: Early Experiences

From: Woody Starkweather
Date: 10/17/99
Time: 10:47:04 AM
Remote Name: 155.247.229.33

Comments

I haven't found any difficulty in having people remember their early experiences. Quite the con- trary, people typically
remember with great vivid- ness the difficult, even traumatic, experiences they have had. One of my early questions when
I am evaluating someone I haven't met before is "What is your first memory of stuttering." Often, I find, they are still
responding to the influence of that first memory. It is a classic example of "unfinished business." 

Woody Starkweather

Team Approach

From: Kelly Birken
Date: 10/7/99
Time: 4:27:01 PM
Remote Name: 134.29.30.64

Comments

I am a student in the field of communication disorders and I found your article to be very informative. I have one question
pertaining to your article. Do you recommend referral and team therapy with a psychotherapist in most cases?

Re: Team Approach

From: Woody Starkweather
Date: 10/17/99
Time: 10:51:49 AM
Remote Name: 155.247.229.33

Comments

In most cases, definitely not. A well-trained SLP knows much more about the psychology of stut- tering than most
psychologists. On the other hand, psychologists typically have a much wider array of techniques to deal with emotional,
cog- nitive, or other problems. If you can find one who is willing to learn about stuttering, they can be a valuable adjunct
to a client's therapy. Occasionally, of course, stutterers have problems that are more serious than usual, or are unrelated to
the experience of being a stutterer, and they may require referral for work on those problems. It depends on the client's
particular problems, and the SLP's training. 

Woody Starkweather

Verrry Interesting

From: Mike Hughes
Date: 10/8/99
Time: 7:26:17 AM
Remote Name: 142.166.254.52

Comments

Woody, 

A fantastic paper! It is unlike anything that I've read before. It contains a great deal of information and a perspective that
should be considered by all stutterers. With your permission, I'd like to reprint it in an upcoming issue of "Speaking
Out," Speak Easy's monthly magazine. I'm sure that it will help many readers to not only discover that "they're not
alone," but that they share even their deepest feelings with other stutterers. 

As a life-long stutterer, I recalled many of my own life's experiences while reading your paper. So much for the notion
that "non-stutterers just CAN'T understand stuttering"! 

Could you post permission for me to reprint? or email me at info@speakeasycanada.com? Thanks!

Re: Verrry Interesting

From: Woody Starkweather
Date: 10/17/99
Time: 10:53:18 AM
Remote Name: 155.247.229.33

Comments

Of course, Mike. Feel free to use it. And thanks for the kind words. 

Woody

Refreshing approach

From: Lieven Grommen
Date: 10/12/99
Time: 4:55:38 PM
Remote Name: 134.29.30.79

Comments

Dear Woody, I found the paper very refreshing. Approaching time and experience of life and time the way you did, is
crucial for understanding different reactions from individuals. When time experience is considered from the PWS point of
view, I've always experienced it as a kind of incarceration ( sort of a jail, I don't have access to the Webster from here...)
Implications to integrated psychotherapeutic and lopopedic approach is evident. Congratulations.

Re: Refreshing approach

From: Woody Starkweather
Date: 10/17/99
Time: 10:54:50 AM
Remote Name: 155.247.229.33

Comments

Thank you Lieven. Van harte bedankt! Woody

Sure you didn't stutter in a past life?! :)

From: stan kennedy
Date: 10/12/99
Time: 6:08:40 PM
Remote Name: 128.157.39.72

Comments

Great Paper!! Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, speech therapists will be trained to treat not only the mechanics of
stuttering, but also the concomitant feelings. I often find myself explaining to listeners (both fluent and non-fluent) that
even though my stuttering seems mild, the associated feelings are not. Thanks for an excellent paper! 

Re: the future is now

From: Walt Manning
Date: 10/13/99
Time: 2:47:28 PM
Remote Name: 141.225.97.53

Comments

Stan- 

You express the hope that in the not-too-distant future, SLPs will be trained to not only understand & treat the techniques
for changing stuttering behavior but will also understand the cognitive and affective aspects of the handicap. There are
many instructors (not nearly enough) that emphasize the features of stuttering that are under the surface and contribute so
much to the handicap. Many of these instructors also stutter and many of them don't. As Woody so eloquently
demonstrates, you don't have to be a PWS to understand the experience. I don't know of anyone who has said it quite so
well as Woody did in his paper but it is possible to have non-stuttering student clinicians understand. 


Re: the future is now

From: Woody Starkweather
Date: 10/17/99
Time: 10:59:30 AM
Remote Name: 155.247.229.33

Comments

Thanks Walt. Coming from you that means a lot to me. 

Woody

Re: Sure you didn't stutter in a past life?! :)

From: Woody
Date: 10/17/99
Time: 10:57:57 AM
Remote Name: 155.247.229.33

Comments

Thanks Stan. I can tell you that all of my stu- dents are trained in dealing with the emotional aspects of stuttering, at least
to the extent that there is time for such training in a crowded grad- uate curriculum, and I know many other professors of
Speech Pathology who do the same. Still, some- how, many SLP's end up with inadequate training in this area. It is a
very serious problem that is being addressed by the Special Interest Division. In fact, it is the topic of our next Leadership
Conference. You should all come. 

Woody

SLP's as psychologists

From: Allison King
Date: 10/13/99
Time: 10:48:56 PM
Remote Name: 205.188.197.182

Comments

I am a grad student at ECU, and after reading "The Stutterer's Experience", I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with
the idea that stuttering therapy should be much more than a series of formal tests. There is so much more to stuttering than
the actual speech product. I think that SLP's should be required to take more psychology classes, in order to better serve
their clients. I have done a limited amount of research in psychology, and I hope it will help me to become a more
effective clinician. My question is why not help the stuttering client ground themself? Show them that they are not in one
of their unpleasant experiences of the past, that they are in the present. Many people who have gone through
psychological therapy have been able to put aside their fears, even when confronted with the same situation again.
Perhaps the same thing could be accomplished with stutterers, and we could even help them to eliminate some of the
shame or embarassment surrounding stuttering. It's a long-shot, but perhaps it could or should be the goal of therapy.

Re: SLP's as psychologists

From: Woody
Date: 10/17/99
Time: 11:03:56 AM
Remote Name: 155.247.229.33

Comments

Allison, you have spoken much truth. The best way to learn about dealing with someone else's psycho- logical issues, is
to deal with your own in a real therapeutic relationship(s). When I decided to augment my speech pathology training with
Gestalt training, I didn't realize that what such training entailed was working on my own issues. But nothing could have
taught me more effectively. 

So my advice to any SLP who wants to be truly effective is to find a Gestalt training program near you, or, if that isn't
possible, go into therapy yourself, preferably with a variety of therapists. Therapy isn't just for sick people, as Fritz Perls
said. 

Woody

The stutterer's experience

From: Steve Hood
Date: 10/19/99
Time: 9:49:20 AM
Remote Name: 199.33.133.50

Comments

Woody -- GREAT PAPER !!!!!! 

I've long believed that the "fluent clinician" is at a disadvantage INITIALLY, due to lack of personal experience with
stuttering. It's relatively easy to learn about "stuttering" but not so easy to learn about the "person who stutterers." I think
it is fair to conclude that those "fluent clinicians" who work on the "stuttering acceptance/stuttering modification" side of
the coin come much closer to understanding the "psychology of the person who stutters" than those who are "fluency
shapers." Those who would work to reduce the frequency of stuttered moments down to 1% stuttered words per minute
miss the boat with respect to the fact that severity if more than frequency. Indeed, frequency counts are pretty terrible
measures of severity. 

Normally fluent clinicians need to understand not just the stuttering, but the stuttering experience: the extent to which the
stuttering, the avoidance, the shame and guilt, the denial or acceptance, results in a handicap or disability, as distinguished
from a "minor nuisance." 

These thoughts and concepts are difficult to express on the printed page. 

I commend you not only for your insights, but your ability to put pen-to-paper in ways that communicate this to the ISAD
readership. 

Great Paper -- Well done. Thanks for sharing. 

Steve Hood 

Re: The stutterer's experience

From: Woody
Date: 10/21/99
Time: 3:11:48 PM
Remote Name: 155.247.229.221

Comments

Thanks Steve. I value your opinion, so the kind words are particularly appreciated. I know that you too are a fluenter who
understands something of the stutterer's internal problems, and I am willing to bet that you learned about it the same way
I did, by listening to your clients and believing what they say. I have been teaching my students those two mantras for a
long time, as long as you have. It does pay off in increased understanding. 

One difficulty about dealing with the stutterer's experience; it takes a long time to understand the problem from the inside
out, and it is more complicated than learning about the superficial aspects of it. As a result, it is difficult to teach this
aspect of treatment. That's a problem that I hope we will address at the upcoming Leadership Conference, which is
focused on training of fluency clinicians. 

Woody

Re: The stutterer's experience

From: Steve Hood
Date: 10/21/99
Time: 3:38:11 PM
Remote Name: 199.33.133.50

Comments

Regarding understanding the stutterer's problems from the inside you you wrote, "I am willing to bet that you learned
about it the same way I did, by listening to your clients and believing what they say." 

Yes, Woody.... and also by members of our local NSA chapter, my friends in the NSA, those who post to stutt-l,
stut-hlp, stutt-x, those who have written their stuttering audiobiography (e.g., Marty Jeser, Fred Murray) etc. 

I am reminded of a quotation attributed to Lee Edward Travis: 

The client is paying to speak The clinician is being paid to listen. 

I think this is true, even when little or no money is involved. 

Steve Hood

Stutter's Experience

From: Mary Ahlers  SLP
Date: 10/20/99
Time: 12:05:10 PM
Remote Name: 209.105.65.189

Comments

I just read your article...again. 

Your statement that we (speech therapists) are looking at stuttering from the outside is so true. I do believe in our
profession that we do have a tendency to treat the surface problems...and not always the whole person. 

I have always believed that I listen to my students and try to understand where they are coming from and how they are
feeling emotionally...your article made me realize that I need to do more--or perhaps do less--and let the student do more
(I trust that made sense!). 

Thank you for your paper...thank you for sharing your insights.

Re: Stutter's Experience

From: Woody
Date: 10/21/99
Time: 3:04:39 PM
Remote Name: 155.247.229.221

Comments

Thanks for your comments Mary. To a certain extent we can be excused for not looking deeper in the past. We are
basically trained to deal with surface issues, visible behavior for the most part. There is a lot of "when you have a hammer
every problem looks like a nail" in the way our field has dealt with stuttering. But I am hopeful that with specialty
recognition, more and more SLP's will be getting some skills in the psychotherapy area, and this will remedy the
problem. 

Woody

The Stutterer's Experience

From: Debra Blanton
Date: 10/20/99
Time: 6:54:48 PM
Remote Name: 199.33.133.81

Comments

Woody, what a great article. I am a graduate student and was wondering if I could be effective working with PWS since I
am a fluent speaker. Your article helped me know it's possible and gave me good insight into a stutterer's experience.
Thanks ! In my undergraduate degree we were required to take Counseling, specific to communication disorders.

Re: The Stutterer's Experience

From: Woody
Date: 10/21/99
Time: 3:05:57 PM
Remote Name: 155.247.229.221

Comments

Thanks for your comments Debra. I am sure you will find lots of ways to use the information that you got in your
Counseling course. 

Woody