|About the presenter: Lieven Grommen, born 1950 in the northern Dutch speaking part of Belgium, is a busy family doctor. He is married and father of four adult children. He had a mild stuttering, and tended to covertness. Participating to internet discussion groups and giving some presentations (Gent 2001, Anaheim 2002) about covert stuttering, did help him become an effective communicator. His interests are the neurological basis of the mind in general, and stuttering specifically. In free time he enjoys nature, traveling, photography.|
A long time ago I lived with the idea that I was the only person on the planet who stuttered. In those days even the word itself was taboo. The shame was great and I had little understanding about stuttering. Like many others who are contributing to this conference, those were not easy years. Perhaps the most essential aspect of life is interacting with others, and this can be very difficult when you get stuck on the introduction. Stuttering often cast a shadow on each day and for every meeting.
After some difficult years and having met some caring people to protect me against the pitfalls of life, I finally discovered a golden key. It was in the early nineties that the internet brought us everything we ever wanted to ask. There was the self-help community; there was the abundance of information on all aspects of this strange disorder: stuttering. Above all there was that great opportunity to meet others, even at the other side of the world. Suddenly we were able to speak without shame about our deepest pain with others who really understood.
This great bridge, the Internet, is brought to us through some wonderful pioneers. Modern society brings new chances. Let's forget a moment about what is wrong. This is a great world to live in. Young people who stutter are never alone anymore. Let us bring this message to the world to let people know that we can live in a better place.
Come over this bridge and join -- the world is waiting. People are waiting to listen to your story and to hear your wishes. Great scientists are working to explore what causes us to stutter, what tiny little neurons are giving us all this turmoil. Others explore techniques to give us our own language back. Great hearts gather all this information and make it available. Many give their time to manage self-help groups.
Some of us will be able to extinguish the greatest part of their stuttering problem and become nearly fluent. Others will continually need strategies or perhaps medications that will help them communicate. There will be few obstacles left to make our deepest dreams come true.
But you do have to cross the bridge. Many of us feel fear. Crossing the canyon can make us feel dizzy. But once at the other side, a great feeling of freedom and happiness will be yours. You will belong to the happy community of people who are free and able to speak to whomever they want, stuttering or not.
Cross over the bridge now!
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