About the presenter: Tom Alexander, P. E. is a Registered Engineer in the State of California and is employed by Los Angeles County Public Works Dept. as an Assistant Director. He resides with Marian, his wife of forty years, in Carson California, and they have three married children also living in the vicinity. He is also an Ordained Minister and involved in pastoral work in the Carson area. Tom finds that both his vocation and his avocation provide him with a wide range of speaking opportunities that are both challenging and rewarding. Tom comments.. "The skills I've acquired over the years, since the sixties when I wrote 'The Cure', have enabled me to navigate successfully through the sometimes less than tranquil seas of verbal communication. I appreciate the challenges, and an always glad to share my experiences with anyone involved in the field of stuttering."

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to Tom Alexander before October 22, 2003.

The Cure! - Four Decades Later

from California, USA

An audio version of a short speech I made at an ASHA Convention in Denver, Colorado, in 1968 is part of this presentation. I will also include below some of what I presented in 1968, and comment on my perspective now, 40 years later, so if you have a slow connection to the Internet, listening to the audio file is not mandatory.

It has been a rewarding experience to look back over several decades of my being in, or mostly around, stuttering therapy and to think again of the implications of the quest for "The Cure". My poem by that title, composed in the sixties and when I was in my mid-twenties, contains a certain levity about what would have been a deadly serious subject a few years earlier...stuttering. It also begs the question -- what can one realistically expect concerning a sustained recovery from stuttering.

I have found, in my experience, no reason to disagree with the often presented assertion that. -- one having come to adulthood as a stutter is likely to continue to stutter throughout life to some degree. However, I have also found that stutterers can be genuinely optimistic that they can effectively deal with their stuttering in a manner that minimizes any handicapping effects and rather contributes to strengthening valuable emotional intelligence capabilities. Examples include the following:

These benefits and others have been very strengthening to my effectiveness both in my vocation and my avocation. I have moved forward in some rather heady areas where there were high speech demands. The speech therapy I was fortunate to receive under Joe and Vivian Sheehan was grounded in reality, and has not failed me in the real world. So here I am decades later, Cured Again! I am aware that I may stutter in given situations, depending largely on what efforts I have recently chosen to expend on "preventive maintenance" work. Nonetheless I have the confidence to rush in, even where fluent speakers fear to tread. I guess that's enough to qualify as a Cure, right?. Works for me!!

Information on how long will it take to download my short speech from 1968 and how to play it after it is downloaded is available at http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/how.html. (IMPORTANT: please note the size of each of the files). All the files below are of the same presentation, so you only need to open one of them). I concluded my speech, and this paper, with a poem I wrote long ago. It is below.

Listen with Quick Time or Real Audio (12.7 MB)

It started many years ago,
A child of 6 years old,
When through the pristine eyes of youth
Life I did first behold.

That's when they found -- they knew it first -
Each fateful word I uttered,
I stu- stu- stu- stu- stu- stu- stu-
I stu- stu- stu- stu- stuttered.

They knew it first, but soon I learned.
They said I'd be all right.
They said that they would love me still,
That I was no less bright.

These well-intended words somehow
Conveyed the message sad
That stuttering was ba- ba- ba-
was pretty ba- ba- bad.

I met the many through the years
Who were so very sure
That they had found the answer
And the only fool-proof cure.

Like one who said that I must use
(It failed with but one session)
Greater expre- pre- pre- pre- pre-
Expre- pre- pre- pression.

I learned to speak by patting feet,

And sometimes, when all others failed,
And I had much to tell,
I'd spe- spe- spe- spe- spe- spe- spe-
I'd S - P - E - L - L.

Then, in despair, I chanced to come
Out to U - C - L - A.
They said I'd learn to stutter there
A new and better way.

They said devices, crutches, tricks
Must all be cast aside,
That I must stutter openly,
For "What was there to hide?"

I learned to slide, keep eye contact,
To have a smooth release,
To face my fears of stuttering,
That soon these fears would cease.

This gave me courage, now I knew
At last tat I could whip it,
And now I'm cure- cure- cure- cure- cure
I'm cure- cure- cure- cure , Skip it!

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to Tom Alexander before October 22, 2003.

September 30, 2003